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Same sex marriage (SSM) and civil unions

LD 1118 to expand the
domestic partner benefits

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Bill LD 1118 launched:

Representative Leslie Fossel (R-Alna) introduced a bill on 2009-MAR-20 that he said would avoid a "culture war" over same-sex marriage. His bill would extend the full set of state rights and responsibilities -- normally given only to opposite-sex married couples -- to same-sex couples who are enrolled in the state's domestic partner registry.

According to Judy Harrison of the Bangor Daily News:

"Proponents of same-sex marriage said they would oppose Fossel?s bill because it would create a separate institution for gay and lesbian couples while supporters of traditional marriage said they would oppose both bills. ..."

About "traditional marriage:"

The term "traditional marriage" is an expression that is a synonym of "opposite-sex marriage." Many religious and social conservatives believe that same-sex marriage (SSM) represents a grave threat to "traditional marriage." Thus they feel that in order to support "traditional marriage" they must aggressively oppose SSM. For example, in 2004, Dr. James Dobson of the fundamentalist Christian group "Focus on the Family" wrote about the threat to American's opposite-sex married couples:

"Dear Friends, I write to you today with a profound sense of concern...Barring a miracle, the family as it has been known for more than five millennia will crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself. ..."

"For more than 40 years, the homosexual activist movement has sought to implement a master plan that has had as its centerpiece the utter destruction of the family." 2

Such conservative beliefs are threatened by divorce data from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This was the first state to legalize SSM. It also has had the lowest divorce rate in the United States for many years now. Talk to Action reports:

"In 2004 the Massachusetts divorce rate, at 2.2 per 1,000 residents per year, was considerably lower than the US national average rate for that year, 3.8 per 1,000. Indeed, it was lower than the national average rate for 1950 (2.6 per 1,000) and even approached the national rate of 1940 (2 per 1,000). "

"In 2003, total divorces in Massachusetts declined 2.1% relative to 2002. But in the first two years of legal same sex marriage in the Bay State, Massachusetts showed a more rapid decline and will very likely hold on to its title as the US state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation. ..."

"[T]he group of US states...which have passed both state laws and also state constitutional amendments prohibiting same sex marriage, lag dramatically in terms of divorce rate improvement when compared to same sex marriage friendly states."

"Among those US states that are most opposed to same sex marriage which have also provided divorce data for the time period...the average divorce rate (unadjusted for population changes) for 2004 and the first 11 months of 2005 increased 1.75%. This group contains 4 of the 5 states with the highest divorce rate increases in the US during 2004 and the first 11 months of 2005." 2

About bill LD 1118:

Judy Harrison continues:

" 'When Senator Damon announced his bill,' Fossel said, 'I could see another culture war coming and that what?s happened. As with a whole lot of issues in the state, the money and energy always seems to be on one side or another, but the way communities work is in finding consensus'."

" 'The question, for me, became how to ensure equal rights to everyone without changing the definition of marriage,' he continued. 'I think we can do that because the way we make change in this country is we change the law, then we change minds, and the words and the definitions [in the vernacular] follow that'."

"Fossel has said that his bill was not intended to create civil unions that have been made legal in other states." 1

The bill states that:

"... registered domestic partners have the same rights, protections and benefits and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties under law, whether they derive from statute, administrative rule, court rule, government policy, common law or any other provision or source of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses."

Opposition to the bill:

Betsy Smith, executive director of EqualityMaine, opposes the bill because:

"... separate is inherently not equal. It does not confer the same kind of dignity and respect marriage does. It?s being married that carries dignity and respect. Marriage says that we?re in a loving, committed relationship, that we intend to take care of each other and, maybe, raise children together. We don?t get that with domestic partnerships." 1

The Maine Family Policy Council, -- formerly called the Christian Civic League of Maine -- favors reducing loving committed same sex couples to the status of roommates, and recognizing their children as illegitimate. They and the Main Marriage Alliance -- a coalition of religious and social conservative pastors, congregations and other individuals -- favor enshrining the Maine Defense of Marriage Act in the state constitution.

Michael Heath, the Council's executive director, said that his group is:

"... very much opposed [to bill LD 1118 and LD 1120]. We reject Rep. Fossel?s bill based on the principle that the law ought not to recognize privileges or benefits outside of traditional marriage. We?ve never supported civil unions and I can?t see us supporting domestic partnership laws." 1

Marc Mutty, director of public policy for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, has not read the bill  but commented:

"My first reaction is that it won?t fly with this Legislature. It appears that the proponents of same-sex marriage are not interested in compromise."

There doesn't seem to be much support for LD 1118.

Site navigation:

Home> Religious info.> Basic> Marriage> Same-sex marriage> Menu> Maine> here

Home> "Hot" topics> Homosexuality> Same-sex marriage> Menu> Maine> here

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Judy Harrison, "New same-sex bill aims to avoid 'culture war:' Alternative bill to same-sex marriage rolls off press," Bangor Daily News, 2009-MAR-20, at: http://www.bangordailynews.com/
  2. Bruce Wilson, "Christian Right Wrong On Gay Marriage in Massachusetts," Talk to Action, 2006-JUL-13, at: http://www.talk2action.org/

Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2009-JAN-14
Latest update: 2009-MAR-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

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