“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” – Abraham Lincoln
Because I believe in those words. As does Maine native, World War II veteran and self-described lifelong Republican Philip Spooner, above.
If you believe in Lincoln’s proposition, that transcendent idea that we are each of us created equal, I do not believe that you can in good conscience vote yes on Question 1. Question 1, of course, being the ballot referendum here in Maine which seeks to reject the right for same-sex couples to marry.
Stripped of the fearmongering, the issue before us is not complicated: should a citizen of this state be denied a basic human right because of the way that they were born?
This is not about schools, in spite of what the Yes On 1 campaign would have you believe. The Maine Attorney General studied the question at the request of educators, and replied: “Our answer frankly is ‘no,’ there is no impact on the curricula of Maine’s public schools.”
Even if it was about the schools, I’m not sure I see how Proposition 1 represents a solution. Denying same-sex couples the right to marry does not remove them from the state. Children in cities and towns all over Maine are far more resilient and perceptive than we give them credit for, and more importantly are already aware that some households have two moms or two dads. Permitting these couples to marry will improve their lives with no material impact on the lives of children whatsoever.
Nor is this a question about imposing values on religious communities, or the threat of a flood of litigation. As the Portland Press Herald observed,
“Arguments that same-sex marriage would inhibit religious freedom or cause a flood of lawsuits also fall flat. The same claims were made in campaigns against Maine’s anti-discrimination laws and neither of them came true. Maine has strong exemptions for religious organizations in its employment and housing laws, and the marriage law would not require anyone to preside over a ceremony in violation of his or her religious beliefs.
Last year, only 32 out of 1,394 civil rights complaints to the Maine Human Rights commission were based on sexual orientation, and few, if any of them, are ever likely to end up in court. The marriage statute would not provide any new grounds for lawsuits.”
When you remove those arguments – as you must if you are committed to rational discourse – what remains? Nothing, except for your own personal or religious objections.
Which you are entitled to. What you are not entitled to, in this country, is the right to impose those beliefs on others. The Declaration of Independence speaks of “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” For many, happiness lies in the institution of marriage. Just as the Supreme Court of the United States once ruled “that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” so may we conclude that civil unions, the alternative favored by some same-sex marriage opponents, can never be a reasonable substitute.
You don’t have to like it, and you do not have to approve. All that is required is that you respect the rights promised to them, as you would expect them to respect yours.
We have, sadly, not always lived up to the promise of our forefathers. It took us 191 years to guarantee people the right to marry irrespective of the color skin they were born with. It is my sincere hope that we don’t deny committed couples the right to marry for another 191 years based on the sexual preference they were born with.
I am fortunate that the law says that I may marry the person that I love. I cannot imagine what I would do if it said otherwise. Please. If you are registered here in Maine and you believe in the rights that make this country worth dying for, vote No On 1.