Community Conversations

Please click on one of the dates to join us for a series of Community Conversations: 

Sunday, Dec 6 - Augusta
Monday, Dec 7 - Ogunquit 
Tuesday, Dec 8 - Ellsworth
Thursday, Dec 10 - Bangor
Tuesday, Dec 15 - Lewiston*
Wed, Dec 16 - Portland**

* Note: The Lewiston / Auburn Community Coversation was originally scheduled for Wednesday, Dec 10 but due to the massive snowstorm it has been rescheduled for Tuesday, December 15. 

**Note: The Portland Community Conversation was previously scheduled for Tuesday, Dec 15 but is being rescheduled to accommodate for the Downeast Pride Alliance event the same night.  

Marriage: Common Questions

Some common questions

I'm not gay and I don't know anyone who is gay. Why should I care about marriage equality?
Someone in your life may well be gay or lesbian, but he or she may not feel comfortable speaking openly about it. Or perhaps the topic just hasn’t come up: how often do you discuss sexual orientation with your dentist or the bank teller or during a Thanksgiving meal? The fact is, thousands of Maine citizens identify as gay or lesbian. For many of them – and their parents, families and friends – marriage equality has become a critical issue in their daily lives.

And remember, you don’t have to be gay or lesbian yourself to support equality for all Maine citizens. In 2005 a majority of voters, gay and straight, agreed that gay and lesbian Mainers should not be subject to discrimination in housing, employment or education because of their sexual orientation. That’s how real progress toward full equality is made. Many men worked to win women the right to vote, and people of all races came together to abolish slavery and end segregation in America.

What about civil unions or domestic partnerships? Aren’t they just as good as marriage, or a good alternative?
No. Civil unions and domestic partnerships can never convey the full rights, responsibilities, protections and respect that civil marriage gives. These separate institutions do not treat citizens equally in the eyes of the law or in the eyes of society.

States that have implemented civil unions as a "compromise" -- Connecticut, New Jersey and Vermont -- have found that it's not a very good compromise. Same-sex couples discover that their civil unions are not recognized in many practical ways, simply because people are confused about what a civil union is and what rights it conveys. As a result, states wind up going back to the drawing board for a better solution. This time-consuming process could be avoided by focusing on the form of legal relationship recognition that really provides equal rights for all citizens: civil marriage.

Would marriage for same-sex couples undermine or weaken the institution of marriage?
No. The struggle for marriage equality affirms the importance of marriage in people’s lives and in our communities. By increasing access to marriage for adults in committed relationships, we can strengthen the institution – not weaken it. Marriage will not be weakened by allowing same-sex couples to marry, just as it was not weakened by women’s suffrage or the repeal of interracial marriage bans.

Why do you call it "marriage equality" instead of "gay marriage"?
Because we're not talking about creating a separate institution called "gay marriage." We're talking about providing equal access to the existing institution of civil marriage.

How would marriage equality affect my church?
That’s entirely up to your church. Remember, the issue is civil marriage, not religious marriage ceremonies. Religious institutions are not required to perform civil marriages, and may set their own boundaries for marriage. Some faith leaders will not perform marriages for people who have been divorced, for example, or for people of different religions.

Marriage equality does not challenge the autonomy of religious institutions in any way. Advocates of marriage equality focus strictly on civil marriage, and leave decisions about religious marriage ceremonies to faith leaders.

But isn't marriage about procreation?
Many married heterosexual couples never have children. For some it's a matter of age, for others it's a matter of health or medical condition, and for still others it's just a personal choice. At the same time, many same-sex couples do have children, even though they are prevented from raising them within the protections of a marital relationship, without the benefits of civil marriage.

How can I keep learning about marriage equality?
As the conversation about marriage continues in Maine and nationwide, please stay in touch with EqualityMaine by joining our email list.

At our 2008 and 2009 annual dinners, EqualityMaine's Executive Director discussed marriage, and why it matters. Read her remarks.

For more, please see our overview: Domestic Partnerships vs. Civil Unions vs. Marriage.

EqualityMaine at 25

This year, EqualityMaine celebrated 25 years of progress for Maine's LGBT community. Check out our 25th anniversary celebration video.

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