With early voting in Maine’s gay marriage referendum beginning perhaps as soon as next week, both sides in the debate are stepping up their campaign rhetoric. Maine has become the latest battleground in the state-by-state debate over gay marriage. Petition signatures were gathered over the summer by gay marriage opponents to trigger a “people’s veto” referendum aimed at overturning a state law passed last spring allowing gays and lesbians to wed. If Maine voters vote “no” on the ballot question to keep the law, it would become the first state in the country to approve of gay marriage through a voting process. The five other states which allow gay marriage – New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa – did so with direct legislative or judicial action. A representative of the Elections Division of the Maine Secretary of State’s office said Tuesday early voting can begin once ballots are printed up which could be by the end of this week. Election Day is Nov. 3rd. The salvos began in earnest last week when Yes on 1/Stand for Marriage Maine aired a television commercial featuring Boston College Law School professor Scott FitzGibbon talking about the potential consequences of approving gay marriage. In the ad, which had a companion piece running on the radio, FitzGibbon highlighted three main arguments: 1. Lawsuits will be filed against small businesses and religious organizations, 2. Church organizations could have their tax-exempt status stripped if they oppose gay marriage, and 3. Gay marriage will be taught as acceptable in public schools, including at the early elementary level. “Our ads pulls the curtain back on the flawed process by which LD 1020 (the gay marriage law) was passed by the Legislature, how elected officials tried to prevent the public from voting on the issue and address the serious consequences should Question 1 fail and LD 1020 become law,” Yes on 1 campaign chairman Marc Mutty said in a statement. “These are very real consequences, documented by some of the nation’s most experienced legal scholars. Every Mainer should be aware of the serious consequences that could occur if LD 1020 ever takes effect,” he added. In opposition, No on 1/Protect Maine Equality has put out its own ad accusing the other side of using scare tactics on education. It also issued a memorandum presenting counter-arguments, saying there are no education-related provisions in the bill approved by the legislature nor were there a flood of lawsuits when Massachusetts passed its first-in-the-nation gay marriage law five years ago. “I think it’s important for folks to know the context in which the other side is communicating and that the theme of their ad is, we think, really a red herring,” Jesse Connolly, campaign manager for No on 1, told the Bangor Daily News. Meanwhile, money is streaming into both sides’ campaign coffers as polling data suggests a near dead heat. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland had its second special collection for the traditional marriage proponents last week which key organizer and Plymouth pastor Bob Emrich told the Daily News “went well.” Everyday Christian has previously reported Yes on 1 has received financial support from the National Organization for Marriage and a state political action arm of Focus on the Family. Conversely, No on 1 has benefitted from online solicitations. The site ActBlue.com, which raises funds for Democratic candidates and liberal political action committees, lists No on 1 as its third highest-ranking group for current contributions. As of Tuesday afternoon, the site listed total contributions for No on 1 at $608,501. No on 1 has also sent out an e-mail solicitation to supporters asking for $1 to accumulate for an online “walk” of the state’s 35,855 square miles and a combined contribution of the same amount. The poll released Friday by the organization Daily Kos shows the height of the stakes and opinions cut sharply along political and demographic lines. Overall, “yes” voters to ban gay marriage hold a 48-46 percent lead. Seventy-four percent of Republicans indicate they will vote yes, while 60 percent of Democrats say they will vote no. In the crucial independent category, no votes enjoy a 52-45 lead. Men oppose gay marriage 52-43, while women favor it 49-44. Opposition to gay marriage rises with age on a sliding scale. In the 18-29 age range, voters favor gay marriage 52-43. In the 60+ group, voters oppose gay marriage 55-38. Links: Yes on 1/Stand for Marriage Maine ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U7bs5yHJv4 No on 1/Protect Maine Equality rebuttal ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Gm7HvaCW2k&feature=channel Daily Kos poll: http://www.dailykos.com/tag/dkos%20poll
Published September 22nd, 2009 by Peter Elliott
Maine gay marriage early voting looms as rhetoric intensifies
Peter Elliott is a veteran news and sports journalist. He enjoys interviewing others about how God works in their lives and sharing that with readers. He is also a lifelong, long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan. He resides in Indianapolis with his wife and three sons.
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MARRIAGE IS FOR ALL AMERICANS. Our Christian brothers and sisters should live and let others live. Gay is not wrong or bad fro everyone. The American Psychiatric Association has confirmed that sexual orientation is natural, biologically induced, morally neutral, immutable, neither contagious nor learned and has no relation to an individualâ€™s ability to form deep and lasting relationships, to parent children, to work or to contribute to society. The American Psychological Association states that homosexuality and homosexual relationships are normal. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have all endorsed civil marriage for same-sex couples because marriage strengthens the mental and physical health and the longevity of couples, and provides greater legal and financial security for children, parents and seniors. When Americaâ€™s premier child and mental health associations and their expert panels endorse marriage equality, there is thus no ethical reason to discriminate against gay people and their children. The U.S. Census reveals that one-third of Americaâ€™s same-sex families are raising children, with the same responsibilities of any American family, needing and deserving all the same financial, legal and social protections that current marriage laws provides. Three percent of every generation of children from every culture will always realize that they are gay. The question that we need to ask ourselves is: what are we doing to make the world a safer and more welcoming place for them? To prevent bullying and to raise children ready for society, pediatricians say that we should teach children that same-sex marriage equals opposite-sex marriage because they need to know that all American families are equal in the eyes of the law. Christians should realize that those scientific associations have reviewed the research and made policy statements that are for the good of America. They represent more than 400,000 mental health and child health specialists. There are no divergent opinions from mainstream scientific organizations. All the published evidence says one thing: marriage is good for Americans, and that it should be availble to all American adults. Galileo was persecuted by the Catholic church and died miserably for his correct scientific views. This looks like the same deal.
That Gay couples seek to marry is not an attack on marriage. If anything it is an ENDORSEMENT of marriage, an acknowledgment that it far better to encourage couples toward monogamy and commitment, rather than relegating them to lives of loneliness and promiscuity. Ask any Straight couple why they choose to marry. Their answer will not be, “We want to get married so that we can have sex and make babies!” That would be absurd, since couples do not need to marry to make babies, nor is the desire to make babies a prerequisite for obtaining a marriage license. No, the reason couples choose to marry is to make a solemn declaration, before friends and family members, that they wish to make a commitment to one another’s happiness, health, and well-being, to the exclusion of all others. Those friends and family members will subsequently act as a force of encouragement for that couple to hold fast to their vows. THAT’S what makes marriage a good thing. Gay couples recognize that and support that. And those that want to prohibit Gay couples from marrying do so only because they don’t want to allow Gay couples the opportunity to PROVE that they are up to the task. For those who suggest that the issue of marriage is best left up to the states, it’s important to remember that the federal government has a vested interest in married couples for the purposes of income taxes and Social Security benefits. From the fed’s point of view, it wouldn’t do for a couple to be considered married in one state, then magically “UN-married” once they decide to move somewhere else. The fact remains that the term “marriage” does not occur in the Constitution of the United States. There is technically no “right” for any couple, Gay or Straight, to get married, at least from the federal governmentâ€™s standpoint. And that is why, ultimately, the Supreme Court will have to address the issue of what constitutes a marriage, much as I’m sure they would prefer NOT to.
A Culture-War Compromise: Permit committed gay couples most of the same special privileges as straight married couples, but simply don’t call these unions “marriage”. The term has a tradition which contradicts the usage sought by gay marriage proponents. No matter the legal terminology, gay couples will lack one special privilege which can have no legislative subsitute. The privilege of raising one’s own biological child, with a spouse who is also the child’s biological parent, will remain the domain of heterosexual couples. As long as we continue to support the the love between a man and a woman as the true natural source of families, there should not be a problem with celebrating the unitive love between same-sex couples.
It is not my intention to contradict church teachings on the subject of marriage equality for Gay couples (even though those teachings vary widely between denominations). Nor is it my intention to contradict Scripture (even though most Christians believe that Scripture is open to certain amounts of contextual interpretation). Instead, I would prefer to approach this subject from a purely Constitutional viewpoint. And the fact remains that there is simply no Constitutional justification for denying law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples the exact same legal benefits and responsibilities that Straight couples have always taken for granted. There is admittedly some disagreement within the Gay community over what’s more important, the word “marriage” or the benefits and responsibilities that are connected with it. As someone who prides himself as being nothing if not diplomatic, I would take simple legal equality under the law, even if the operative term is “civil unions.” If social conservatives simply wish to reserve the term “marriage” for heterosexual couples, they can have it, as long as Gay couples are treated fairly. Here’s an example of how the current system is not fair: According to a statement I recently received in the mail from the Social Security Administration, my married spouse would be eligible for over $1400 per month (after retirement) in the event of my death. I think anyone would agree that $1400 per month is a pretty hefty chunk of change. However, it is money that my significant other would not be eligible for, because we would not be allowed to get married. I would like to provide for the financial well-being of my spouse, just as I’m sure any heterosexual would, but in essence I’m throwing away money on a fund that my partner cannot take advantage to in the event of my death. At the root of this discrepancy is the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which was signed, to his eternal shame, by Bill Clinton. Because of DOMA, even Gay couples who are legally married in Iowa or Massachusetts are unrecognized by the federal government, and any such couple becomes magically â€œUN-marriedâ€ once they move to another state. So frankly, even married Gay couples in Iowa and Massachusetts continue to be second-class citizens in the eyes of Washington. At the very least, the federal government should allow Gay spouses to file joint tax returns and to designate one another for survivorship benefits under Social Security. If a “civil union” would allow us to do this, I’m all for it. If not, then nothing but full marriage equality will suffice.
Fish, How could you, as a God-loving American, grant some “couples most of the same special privileges as others” and not treat everyone the same. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Gay Children of God want all the best American traditions that you happen to enjoy. There is no earthly or heavenly reason to deny it. Why would you want to deny gay parents “one special privilege which can have no legislative substitute”? Dear Heart, that is the very essence of discrimination: baselessly denying one group something that others get. Wake up into 2009. The Pediatricians okayed same-sex marriage and parenting, based on abundant research, because gay folk are having children the same as heterosexuals, using the same scientific processes that heterosexuals use to create children. So, Dearie, “the privilege of raising ones biological children, with a spouse who is also the child’s biological parent will [NOT] remain the domain of heterosexual couples” as you asserted. Do you not see that in your heart is a gross bigotry that God does not share? Why the amazing insecurity with your identity? Be loving and generous and welcoming!!! We should support the love between all humans, and grant all who commit forever to each other the same great dignity that only civil marriage can confer. Bless you in your growth process.
Dr. OHanlan, I don’t believe that I, or anyone else, has the power to deny parenting ability to gay couples. Rather, I believe nature limits reproduction. It takes a mother and a father to make a baby; that is what makes hetero-sexual marriage different from any other loving union. That is why I find it misleading to call other relationships “marriage”. That is my one simple point. I probably don’t know as many scientific intricacies as you know. How could two men both be biological fathers of the same child? I know that a child could technically have 2 mothers; a birth-mother and biological mother. But even that is not the same as having two parents who share your genes.