Editorial: New York, Maine, and gay marriage

Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2011 in Opinion

Editorial: New York, Maine, and gay marriage

Last week New York legalized gay marriage, and people who cherish equality rejoiced.  It is a bitter pill to swallow that Maine - with its ideals of liberty and a strong live and let live ethic - should have gone to the polls to reject gay marriage only two years ago, after it was enacted by the Legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. John Baldacci. 

A grassroots effort to bring the issue back is currently being attempted by Equality Maine , with the intention of getting the issue on the ballot - and passed by Maine voters - in 2012.

By this time, it should be obvious to anyone paying attention that gay marriage will eventually be the law of the land.  It really can't be any other way - marriage and the building of a family with the person of your choice is a fundamental human and civil right, and all Americans are entitled to equal protection. Marriage, for better or for worse, is a subset of contract law. A series of Supreme Court decisions from the 1960s to the 2000s chipped away at the legal rationale for denying equal protection to gay adults in the United States.  In 2003, the last hurdle fell - under Lawrence v. Texas, sodomy was decriminalized for consenting adults.

While churches can and do restrict who can marry in their establishments as is right and proper under the first amendment, the fourteenth amendment guarantees that civil marriage cannot be denied to consenting adults.  Eventually, a Supreme Court - perhaps this Supreme Court - will finally bow to the unquestionable Constitutional issues in permitting gay marriage, and nothing - not the so-called 'Defense of Marriage Act', not state law, not the people's veto, not a thousand churches protesting on the Capitol steps, will prevent this serious miscarriage of justice from being rectified.

The question is, do we want to be part of the reaction that will then occur, or lead the way now? Mainers, known for their tolerance and committment to fairness, should want to bring our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, into a position of equality to the rest of us.

The task will be formidable, but the hour for full equality is here.  When a young person arrives on your doorstep, have a conversation with him or her. Offer your support.  And stand ready to vote for what you already know in your heart is the right thing - fairness for all citizens.

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