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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Maine

Prop. 1: Events leading up to the vote
2009: Mid-August to mid-September

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Background:

The National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family, and Schubert Flint Public Affairs -- the public relations firm that successfully promoted Proposition 8 in California in late 2008 -- have mounted a major campaign to restrict marriage in Maine to opposite-sex couples. The Human Rights Campaign believes that religious and social conservatives have funded this campaign with $600,000. There are rumors that the Roman Catholic Church has promised to donate $2 million; that is probably unrealistic because of the fragile shape of the church's finances caused by their child sexual abuse scandals. 1

With the public opinion almost evenly split on marriage equality, the proposition may well be decided on who has the more effective and better financed ad campaign. Since negative fear-based TV ads tend to be more effective than ads with positive messages about love and equality. those supporting Prop 1 have a strong advantage. It will probably all come down to funding.

2009-AUG-26: Rev. Bob Emrich opposes SSM:

Rev. Bob Emrich, co-chair of the Stand for Marriage Maine Coalition, wrote an article opposing SSM in Maine in which he objects to the new marriage law that permits all loving committed couples to marry -- a law that Governor Baldacci refers to as "marriage equality."

Emrich wrote:

"Maine law said: 'The union of one man and one woman joined in traditional monogamous marriage is of inestimable value to society. ... The State has a compelling interest to nurture and promote the unique institution of traditional monogamous marriage in the support of harmonious families and the physical and mental health of children. ... and that the State has the compelling interest in promoting the moral values inherent in traditional monogamous marriage'."

"Finally, the whole purpose of Maine's marriage law was, 'to encourage the traditional monogamous family unit as the basic building block of our society, the foundation of harmonious and enriching family life'." 2

He suggests that the new marriage law threw all these noble ideas on the trash heap, because:

bulletIt begins: "Marriage is the legally recognized union of two people."
bulletIt continues by stating that: "Gender-specific terms relating to the marital relationship or familial relationships ... must be construed to be gender-neutral for all purposes throughout the law..."

Let us assume that lesbians, gays, and bisexuals total about 6% of the population and that half of them -- 3% of the population -- will want want to commit to a lifetime of support with a spouse of the same gender over the next generation. Rev. Emrich is saying that to transition the culture:

bulletFrom a marriage structure in which 100% of the marriages are by opposite-sex couples, to
bulletA culture in which 97% of the marriages are by opposite-sex couples,

will result in the destruction of "... the traditional monogamous family unit as the basic building block of our society, the foundation of harmonious and enriching family life." He does not indicate how 3% of the married couples would have this magical destructive power.

Emrich concludes:

"We believe Maine people still believe that 'the State has a compelling interest to nurture and promote the unique institution of traditional monogamous marriage in the support of harmonious families and the physical and mental health of children'." 2

There is, of course, no reason why the state cannot continue to encourage opposite-sex couples to marry even as they enlarge the pool of spouses by also encouraging same-sex couples to marry.

He draws an analogy to a forest that has been clear cut, leaving only a barren field full of tree stumps. All the trees were chopped down, creating a system of "tree equality." Similarly, he suggests that allowing loving, committed same-sex couples to marry would destroy the entire institution of marriage in Maine, leaving only devastation in its wake.

Emrich's comments are reminiscent of the situation before 1967 when 16 states did not permit persons of different races to marry. The Supreme Court ruled that year that all anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. From that year to now, a small percentage of marriages throughout the U.S. have been inter-racial, and yet the culture adapted to the change.

2009-SEP-04: Marc Mutty circulates letter:

There is probably no topic that strikes more fear and anger into the hearts of parents than the combination of sexual behavior and their children. Linking same-sex marriage, human sexuality, and children may well be the most effective way to raise anxiety in adults against marriage equality. That may be why Marc Mutty, Chairperson of "Stand for Marriage Maine," distributed the following letter throughout the state:

"For many of us, this week marks the start of the new school year. So in honor of back-to-school season, let's try a little pop quiz. Which of the following does not belong in the same group as the others:

(A) History
(B) Mathematics
(C) English
(D) Homosexual Marriage"

"If you guessed ''D'' - you're right! Mainers firmly believe homosexual instruction has no place in the classroom. Maine's public schools should focus on reading and writing, not mandatory gay sex education."

"There's only one problem: an irresponsible piece of legislation known as LD1020. If allowed to take effect this law would throw to the trash heap our decades-old interest in promoting traditional marriage. It would legalize homosexual, genderless marriage. And if marriage is redefined to be genderless, then same-sex marriage must be taught as being the same as traditional marriage. This has profound consequences for your child's classroom education." 3

It is not clear what the term "genderless marriage" means. Every legal marriage in the U.S., whether by opposite-sex or same-sex spouses is between two persons, both of whom have one of three genders, either female, male, or inter-sexual.

It is perhaps worth noting that the enabling legislation LD 1020 contains no wording that would require same-sex marriage to be mentioned in schools, let alone discussion of "gay sex education."

With the multitude of subjects and courses taught in Maine schools -- science, chemistry, history, government, English, foreign languages, mathematics, etc., we suspect that less than 1% would deal with family organization and functioning. It would seem that only a few minutes out of every school year would probably be devoted to the state's eligibility criteria for marriage. Of those few minutes, only a fraction would be needed to mention same-sex marriage. As long as some states in the U.S., and all of Canada -- the country with which Maine shares a border -- continue to legalize SSM, this amount would probably be the same whether Maine reactivates LD 1020 or not.

In fact, one sentence would probably suffice:

"In Maine, the vast majority of marriages solemnized involve one woman and one man. However, couples of the same gender can also marry."

Why the fear over nine words and perhaps ten seconds of instruction time?

2009-SEP-08: Senator Larry Bliss supports SSM:

Senator Bliss (D-South Portland) responded to Rev. Emrich's article. Sen. Bliss wrote:

"I question whether he and I live in the same state."

"Rev. Emrich looks at marriage equality in Maine and sees 'acres of clear-cut land.' I look at marriage equality, and I see thousands of Maine couples whose lives are more secure, whose children have more protections under the law and whose rights are assured to love each other and to have the law acknowledge and honor their partnerships."

"In Rev. Emrich's Maine, if you disagree with how your neighbors are living their lives, you have a right -- even an obligation -- to interfere with the decisions they make in their personal lives. In the Maine where my neighbors and I live, we believe that everyone should be able to live their lives the way they want to live them."

"In Rev. Emrich's Maine, there is one set of rules for him and his supporters and another for those Mainers he disagrees with. In the Maine where my neighbors and I live, we believe that everyone should be treated fairly under the law."

"For Rev. Emrich, marriage is a restrictive club guided by the rules he and his supporters make. Rev. Emrich totally ignores the most important facts about marriage and the rights, responsibilities and protections it confers on the two people who marry and on their children."

"In his zeal to close the door to marriage for thousands of our neighbors, co-workers and family members, Rev. Emrich fails to address the injustice behind repealing Maine's marriage equality law in November."

"Marriage equality strengthens Maine families, protects Maine children and reflects core Maine values of fairness and individual liberty."

"Marriage equality honors the commitment that thousands of loving same-sex couples in Maine have made to each other, often for decades."

"These loving couples are not recognized as a legal pair and, therefore, cannot file taxes jointly; do not have access to health insurance as a family, and are not allowed to inherit property at the time of death without the hardship of crushing taxes."

"In addition, their children are not entitled to all of the rights and protections marriage confers on a family headed by a married couple."

"Despite Rev. Emrich's assertions, the truth is that every reputable organization dedicated to children's well-being has found that what children need most is love and support. ..."

"Marriage equality upholds traditional Maine values of personal freedom and equality by respecting the right of every Mainer to marry the person he or she loves."

"That's the Maine I live in. Those are the values I hold dear." 4

Subsequent developments

Site navigation:

Home> Religious info.> Basic> Marriage> SSM> Menu> Maine> here

Home> "Hot" topics> Homosexuality> SSM> 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. Mahayana, "From California to Maine ... and back again," AmplifyYourVoice, 2009-AUG-19, at: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/
  2. Rev. Bob Emrich, "Legislators, governor chopped down Maine's traditional marriage law," Portland Press Herald & Maine Sunday Telegram, 2009-AUG-26, at: http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/
  3. Marc Mutty, "Should children be indoctrinated in Maine schools?" Stand for Marriage Maine, 2009-SEP-04, at: http://www.pamshouseblend.com/
  4. Sen. Larry Bliss, "Opponent of same-sex marriage views Maine, Mainers through narrow lens," Portland Press Herald & Maine Sunday Telegram, 2009-SEP-08, at: http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/

Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2009-SEP-23
Latest update: 2009-OCT-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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