SSM and domestic partnerships in Maine
National support for SSM.
Senate committee hearing
From the Maine Marriage Initiative, a Roman Catholic website opposing marriage equality:
"Marriages should be strengthened, not redefined."
"Traditions are created when society embraces them."
Lucie Bauer of Rockport, ME commenting on her marriage to
her partner Annie last August in California said on the occasion of passage of
a SSM bill in the Maine senate: "That was a bittersweet occasion: wonderful to
be married but bitter because it wasn?t recognized in my home state and
Support for SSM increases nationally:
The Angus-Reid Global Monitor reported that two of their recent
national polls (2008-JUN and DEC) indicate a 44% support for SSM. This, combined
with polls by other agencies shows that support for SSM
continues to increase in the U.S. and is slowly approaching a majority.
Meanwhile, those undecided are gradually decreasing in numbers.
In late 2008, Jay McDonough published a fascinating graph on his "swimming
freestyle" weblog titled: "Gay marriage will be legal by 2012." The graph is too
tiny to read clearly. It shows the decline in opposition to SSM (in red), the
rise in support for SSM (in blue) and the stagnation of the the number of "don't
knows, from 1986 to 2006. The vertical axis runs from 0 to 100%. 2
The horizontal line half-way up the graph is the 50% support level
-- the goal for many gays, lesbians, bisexuals, civil rights promoters,
religious liberals, etc. It also represents a "Disaster of the Hindenburg class"
for most religious and social conservatives, who regard SSM as "counterfeit
It may be worthwhile comparing support for SSM with support for
inter-racial marriages in the late 20th century. In the latter case:
This was a shift of 40% over 43 years -- just under 1 percentage
point per year.
If support for SSM increases at the same rate as support for
inter-racial marriage, then parity should be reached nationally circa 2013.
||90% of Americans opposed inter-racial marriages in 1948 when
the State of California legalized them throughout that state.
||72% opposed such marriages in 1967 when the Supreme Court
legalized them throughout the U.S. in the famous and ironically named "Loving
v. Virginia" case.
Support for marriage equality on the basis of race only became a majority in 1991.
There were 62 lawmakers in Maine who had gone on record as supporting
LD 1120 and same-sex marriage in the state. The list includes 62 Democrats and 1 Republican.
The lone Republican is Rep. Strang Burgess (R-Cumberland). A list of sponsors is
available online. 5 Sen. Dennis Damon,
(D-Trenton) sponsored the bill: LD 1020, "An Act to End Discrimination in Civil
Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom."
The "religious freedom" referred to is the freedom by which faith groups and
congregations will be able to continue discriminating against marrying
same-sex couples if SSM is legalized.
"There are all kinds of reasons not to sign, so I didn't pressure anyone. I know
there are a lot of people, including some in my own caucus, who are very
concerned about it."
He estimates that about 90% of the messages that he has received on SSM favor
The Legislature's Judiciary Committee originally scheduled a public hearing to discuss
the bill in Cony High School in Augusta, ME. However, because of the
anticipated response they changed the time to APR-22 and the location to the
Augusta Civic Center.
As of 2009-MAR-27, 3,000 petitions had been sent via Equality Maine
to state legislators; they hoped to get 5,000 by the time of the public
hearing. 6 They suggest
writing about one or two of the following talking points:
"Loving, committed same-sex couples need and deserve all the rights
that come with being married.
||Marriage tells the community that two people are committed to each other
and are a family. Same-sex couples need this as much as opposite-sex couples
||Children of same-sex couples are harmed when their parents do not receive
all the protections of marriage.
||Excluding same-sex couples from marriage -- or creating separate
institutions, like civil unions and domestic partnerships -- marks them and
their children as less worthy than other citizens.
Sen. Damon's bill upholds freedom of religion. This bill is about civil
marriage, and leaves decisions about religious ceremonies to faith leaders."
2009-APR-22: Senate Judiciary Committee holds public hearing:
On the order of 4,000 people attended the public meeting of the Senate Judiciary
Committee in the
Augusta Civic Center. The meeting began at about 9:30 in the morning and
lasted "well into the night." 7
Betsy Smith of Equality Maine -- a non-profit that supports SSM -- said of the meeting:
"We out-numbered our opponents 4 to 1. It was history in the making ? and a
giant step forward in winning marriage in Maine. Nearly 4,000 of us crowded into
the Augusta Civic Center yesterday to tell the Judiciary Committee that the time
has come to give LGBT families the protections and recognition of marriage."
"Clad in red shirts, ties, jackets and scarves, we drove from every corner of
the state to support the marriage bill. I?ll never forget the sea of red that
filled the auditorium, and the roars of approval that greeted the powerful
remarks of Senator Dennis Damon ..." 8
Senator Dennis S. Damon (D-Trenton), who introduced bill LD 1020 to legalize SSM, said:
"This bill is fair. This bill's time has come. It recognizes the worth and dignity of every
man and every woman among us."
Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Malone of the Diocese of Portland
testified in opposition to the bill. He said:
"We speak in opposition to same-sex marriage because we are deeply concerned about the
institution of marriage itself -- in this state, and in this nation." 7
The Catholic Church has launched the Main Marriage Initiative: a web
site opposing SSM. Their home page admits that the present system is unfair. The
"Its not about fairness. It's about doing what's right."
"Proponents claim that it's about basic fairness, and that same-sex couples are
denied rights offered to heterosexual couples. But the truth is that Maine's
Domestic Partnership laws already confer many of the rights offered to
heterosexual couples to same-sex couples. And changing the definition of
marriage won't help create other rights, which are controlled by the federal
Supporters of SSM suggest that the battle over SSM very
definitely is about fairness and equal treatment of all loving, committed
couples. The domestic partnership laws cannot give same-sex couples one of the
most important benefits of marriage: the word itself. Everybody knows what
marriage means; domestic partnerships are considered inherently separate, unequal, and
distinctly inferior. If you doubt that statement, imagine how many married
opposite-sex couples would be willing to turn in their marriage certificate for
a domestic partnership certificate.
It is true that SSM would only give loving, committed same-sex
couples a few hundred state benefits of marriage. The federal DOMA act prevents them from receiving about 1,100
federal benefits, protections, responsibilities, etc. However, when a substantial number of states
allow such couples to marry and obtain their state's rights, the pressure will
mount to repeal the federal DOMA act so
that real marriage equity will be available to all married couples in Maine and
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"It's not about fairness. It's about doing what's right," Maine Marriage
Jay McDonough. "Gay marriage will be legal by 2012," Swimming Freestyle blog, at:
Gail Mathabane, "Gays face same battle interracial couples fought,"
USA Today, 2004-JAN-25.
John Rogers, "Kung Fu Monkey" blog, 2005-MAR-16, at:
Christopher Cousins, "Lawmakers Vow To Support Same Sex Marriage," The
Ellsworth American, 2009-MAR-17, at:
"Tell Your Legislators to Support Marriage Equality," Equality Maine, at:
Carlos Santoscoy, "Thousands attend gay marriage debate in Maine," On
Top Magazine, 2009-APR-23, at:
- "Yesterday was Extraordinary," Equality Maine news release, 2009-APR-23.
Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2009-JAN-14
Latest update: 2009-MAY-08
Author: B.A. Robinson