Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maine: NOT The Way Life Should Be

58% of the registered voters in Maine went to the polls yesterday. (detailed results available by county and town from the Bangor Daily News) Of those voters, 52.77% voted to repeal Maine’s Marriage Equality law. 47.23% voted to let Marriage Equality stand in Maine.

The approval of Question One which means the repeal of Marriage Equality in Maine is disheartening, disappointing, dispiriting. But two towns in particular who voted to strip same sex couples of their ever so recently afforded rights shocked and angered me.

Remember Mr. Spooner, the World War II Veteran, Veterans of Foreign Wars Chaplain, widower and the father of four sons - one of whom is gay? His fellow citizens in the city of Biddeford voted to repeal Marriage Equality in Maine: 53% Yes, 47% No.

And remember Mr. Redicker, the Vietnam War veteran and father of two daughters; one gay, one straight? His fellow citizens in the town of Fort Fairfield also voted to repeal Marriage Equality in Maine: 70% Yes, 30% No.

Do we blame ignorance? Fear? Hatred? I don’t know. But this process of state by state referendums on Marriage Equality now stands at zero victories. The comparison to the lengthy and enormous African-American Civil Rights Movement is fraught with differences and controversy. But the three federal legislative landmarks were the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The important part of that last sentence is the word “federal”. But ever since the perversely named Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) became law in 1996, the federal deck has been stacked against Marriage Equality. And the language of DOMA explicitly undermines the impact of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution on marriage, which says states must respect the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings” of other states.

Same sex marriage is currently legal in just five states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont; with New Hampshire’s law to take effect on January 1, 2010. But until the day when the Respect for Marriage Act of 2009 (H.R. 3567) , which repeals DOMA, becomes federal law, each of those states will be standing alone. Same sex couples legally married in those states will not have their marriages recognized in other states. The work for Marriage Equality must continue at the state level - including vigilance that existing rights are not eroded or overturned. But after yesterday’s vote in Maine, I believe the most important work is to get the Respect for Marriage Act of 2009 passed into law.

1 comment:

Roo said...

Shame! A backward step....