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Religious Tolerance logo

SSM and domestic partnerships in Maine

Videos ads in support of, and
opposition to, SSM in Maine

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At last count, adults in Maine were in a statistical dead heat over whether to allow same-sex couple to marry. The eventual outcome of the plebiscite may well depend upon the money that each side has, and how effective their ads are.

Unfortunately, for the pro-marriage equality side, negative, fear-based ads tend to be much more effective than appeals to equality for persons of all sexual orientations.

Three early ads favoring marriage equality:

"Stand for marriage's" initial ads opposing marriage equality:

The people appearing in the pro-equality ads shown above were all volunteers. However, the opposing side apparently has had to hire actors for some of their TV ads. This is not a good sign for their side.

According to AmericaBlog, casting director James Stiles sought two "real Maine" women to appear in a television ad produced by groups opposed to marriage equality. He was looking for a "teacher type" and a "working waitress type," both in the 35-45 age range. Auditions were held on 2009-SEP-02. The job pays $500 a day for a three day gig. 1

In early 2009-SEP, we speculated that when the Maine television ads appear, they would be similar to the one promoted by National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in 2009-APR. That is, they would take the form of a very professionally produced fear-based video describing a frightening agenda being promoted by a nameless, faceless army of homosexuals. The ad will not emphasize same sex marriage. Rather, it will give major emphasis to a perceived attack on religious freedom by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community.

Three such rights were mentioned in that TV ad:

bulletThe right of a physician to discriminate against GLBT persons in the provision of health services that she or he supplies to the general population.
bulletThe right of church groups to discriminate against GLBTs in the provision of services that they promised to provide to the general population, and for which they received tax exemptions.
bulletThe right of parents to require their local public school board to restore past policies of teaching discrimination against the GLBT community.

On the other hand, we held out the possibility that they may take an entirely different approach this time. Maine is one of the most secular states in the U.S. The 2009-APR fear-based approach might be less effective in this state.

It turns out that we were at least partly correct. When the first anti-SSM appeared, it was, as expected, fear-based. Also, it mainly discussed perceived religious freedom consequences to the bill.

The ad titled "Consequences," features Scott FitzGibbon, a law professor from Boston College Law School in Newton, MA. The sponsors apparently could not obtain the services of a Maine law professor. FitzGibbon predicts three dangers. The first two are:

bullet"...real consequences for Mainers. Legal experts predict a flood of lawsuits against individuals, small businesses and religious groups.
bulletChurch organizations could lose their tax exemption because of their conscientious objection to same-sex marriage.

We sent the following Email request to Stand For Marriage Maine:

"Your ad would have been far more effective if Professor FitzGibbon had cited actual cases in jurisdictions that have legalized same-sex marriage, and where where individuals, small businesses or religious groups were subsequently sued by same-sex married couples."

"We have searched for such lawsuits but have not been able to find any."

"In Canada, where same-sex couples have been marrying since mid-2005, we could not find a lawsuit either. We did find one case in there where a woman had  signed a contract with the local Knights of Columbus to rent their hall for her wedding reception. The Knights unilaterally terminated the contract when they found out that her spouse was another woman. She laid a successful human rights complaint. But that is as close to a lawsuit as we have been able to find in the 6 U.S. states, 7 Canadian provinces, and 3 Canadian territories that have legalized same-sex marriage in North America."

"Can you cite others?"

"BTW, your link to send an Email on your website at http://www.standformarriagemaine.com/?page_id=111 is broken; the HTML coding is defective."

As expected, we did not receive an answer to our Email or even an acknowledgment that it was received.

The third fear expressed by Professor FitzGibbon was:

bullet"Homosexual marriage [would be] taught in public schools whether the parents like it or not."

The term "homosexual marriage" is not a good one. It is true that most same-sex marriages (SSMs) involve two gays or two lesbians. However, some involve a person with a homosexual orientation married to a bisexual. A few involve two bisexuals. So, "same-sex marriage" is a much preferred term.

FitzGibbon's comments feed into a fear-filled misunderstanding by many adults. Some believe that if we completely isolate children from any information about homosexual orientation, then 6% of children will not choose to have a homosexual orientation after puberty, as they believe now happens.

This can be proven to be a false view of sexual orientation. Consider:

bulletChild psychologists are able to interview pre-school aged children and determine with 85% accuracy which ones will grow up to be lesbian and gay.
bulletChildren are far more knowledgeable about sexual orientation today than were the previous generation. Yet although gays, lesbians and bisexuals are far more visible today, they do not appear to be more numerous.
bulletWe have never been able to find an adult -- with a heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual orientation -- who can recall ever choosing their sexual orientation. Rather, it appears to be something that a person discovers.
bulletMany lesbians, gays and bisexuals can recall feeling different from other children from a very early age, before they knew anything about human sexuality or sexual orientation.

If SSM becomes available to Maine lesbian, gays, and bisexuals, it would appear that SSM is an important topic to discuss SSM in school. Even if SSM does not become legal in the state, it will be available in many other U.S. states and across Canada. Armed with knowledge about SSM, that 6% of students who will become lesbian, gay or bisexual as adults will realize that they can choose from various lifestyles later in life:

bulletTo develop a celibate, loving, committed relationship, and then marry.
bulletTo develop a sexually active, loving, committed relationship and then marry.
bulletTo remain single and sexually active with a variety of others over their lifetime, or
bulletTo lead a celibate existence.

These, of course, are exactly the same lifestyles from which heterosexuals can now freely choose.

In summary, it would be important that all students learn about same-sex marriage whether it becomes available in Maine so that the 6% would reach their full potential, and that all of the students will understand what marriage equality means.

It would probably take only a minor addition to the course curriculum whenever marriage is taught.

More information on the use of fear in these videos.

Site navigation:

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

Home> "Hot" topics> Homosexuality> SSM> Menu> Maine> here

References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Joe Sudbay, "Anti-marriage campaign in Maine hiring actors for its ads," AmericaBlog, 2009-AUG-28, at: http://www.americablog.com/

Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2009-JAN-14
Latest update: 2009-SEP-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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