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.  

Morning Sentinel/KJ Editorial: No One Should Be Denied Equal Right to Marry

From the Morning Sentinel/Kennebec Journal, 1/19/09:

In 2003, after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny members of the same sex the right to marry in that state -- a move that paved the way for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts the following year -- this newspaper editorialized in favor of gay marriage.

Much has happened in the intervening years.

Gay marriages have been performed in Massachusetts, the state of Connecticut ruled gay marriage legal last year, and California has seen both a state Supreme Court decision confirming the constitutionality of gay marriage and a subsequent, and successful, statewide referendum to ban same-sex marriage.

Now, the issue has come directly to Maine.

As part of a coordinated campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in all six New England states by 2012, a bill has been introduced in the Maine Legislature to recognize marriages between same-sex couples. Similar legislation has been introduced, or soon will be introduced, in New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island.

The legislation in Maine, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Dennis Damon of Trenton, has the backing of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, the Maine Children's Alliance, civil rights groups, the NAACP, gay and lesbian organizations and a significant number of Maine clergy members.

The bill has two significant parts: First, it would end the prohibition on qualified gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

Second, and crucially important, the bill would affirm that religious institutions have control over their own doctrine and will not be forced to marry gay couples.

There will be a fight over this legislation, no doubt about it.

And faced with a huge state budget deficit, some have asked why advocates are pressing this bill at this time. But as with past civil rights discrimination, while there is always a strategic value to the timing of legislation to remove legal barriers, there's also a valid argument to be made that no one should have to wait for equal treatment under the law.

We support this move to legalize gay marriage in Maine. And we do so for the very same reasons we supported gay marriage in Massachusetts six years ago.

Our reasoning now is the same as it was then, and we see no reason to reinvent our arguments.

Rather, we offer readers these excerpts from our earlier editorial:

"Marriage is clearly an important right in our society. It grants legal safeguards and standing in the community.

"There is probably no more symbolic event in a person's life than getting married.

"If gays can vote, own property, adopt children and even serve in the military (so long as they don't say they are gay), then why can't they get married?

"If only the debate were that simple. For the same reasons committed gay couples are fighting so hard for this right, others are opposed.

"Hundreds of years of religion, tradition and history define marriage as a man and woman, and even in the hearts of many a tolerant person, that's the only acceptable definition of marriage.

"There is a sense that change is happening too fast. Behaviors that were scandalous only 10 or 20 years ago are now accepted, especially on the sexual front, where Americans have always been contradictory, espousing modesty on the one hand while on the other making celebrities out of Madonna and Britney Spears.

"We're all for propriety, but if we were all that proper the (Internet) spam artists offering, well, just about anything, would be out of business.

"But those who equate a libertine lifestyle with gay marriage are either moralists or badly misinformed. It's been some time since most couples of any orientation waited for the wedding night to consummate their relationship.

"Marriage between two woman or two men has ... everything to do with commitment, love and respect.

"If a group of people who comprise 5 to 10 percent of the population (depending on what study you accept), want to legally bind themselves to each other, and publicly declare their love, perhaps we should be celebrating.

"In a world too lacking in commitment, why stand in the way of those who want to give it a try? They probably won't be any worse than straight marriages, half of which fail.

"It's time for the government -- local, state and federal -- to get out of the way of consenting adults who want to accept each other 'from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.'"

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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