Michael Sargent: Will Maine lead or will it lag behind?

Under current Maine law, marriage licenses are granted to opposite-sex couples, but are denied to same-sex couples. On Nov. 6, voters will decide whether they want the state to continue that policy of treating same-sex and opposite-sex couples differently.

In thinking about this issue, it is instructive to ask who actually supports legalizing same-sex marriage. The Pew Research Center has addressed that very question, by polling Americans about their support for same-sex marriage.

Nationally, opposition fell from 57 percent in 2001 to just 44 percent in the center's most recent polling this year. Support for same-sex marriage rose over that same period from 35 percent to 48 percent (higher than the level of opposition).

In Maine, recent polls indicate that a majority of likely voters (as many as 57 percent in one poll) support same-sex marriage.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Pew national data indicate that Democrats and independents have shown the greatest increases in support, with Republicans showing the least support and the smallest increase over time.

Additionally, faith makes a difference. Among those most opposed to same-sex marriage were black Protestants and white evangelical Protestants. Interestingly, Catholics and white mainline Protestants were more supportive. In fact, a majority of U.S. Catholics (53 percent) supported legalizing same-sex marriage.

Most interesting are generational differences. In the words of the Pew report, “Younger generations express higher levels of support for same-sex marriage.” For example, in 2012, 41 percent of baby boomers (Americans born between 1946 and 1964) supported same-sex marriage. By contrast, 63 percent of so-called millenials (those born after 1980) supported same-sex marriage.

Such generational differences are important because, as younger Americans grow into positions of political influence and as they vote more frequently, their attitudes will have a greater influence on public policy. In other words, today’s young Americans are tomorrow’s leaders and voters.

What’s more, even today, all generations are shifting in the direction of greater support for same-sex marriage. For instance, that 41 percent level of support among Baby Boomers is higher than it was in 2001 (when only 32 percent supported it). Even though some of the oldest Americans in the sample (those born between 1928 and 1945) were the most skeptical about same-sex marriage, their support also rose from just 21 percent in 2001 to 33 percent in 2012.

What about in states where same-sex marriage has been legalized? Do people in those states think the sky has fallen? No.

For instance, Public Policy Polling found earlier this year that in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2004, 67 percent of those polled said that legalizing same-sex marriage had not affected them at all, and an additional 19 percent said it has had a positive impact. In short, 86 percent of Massachusetts residents said that legalizing same-sex marriage either had no impact or it had a positive impact on their lives.

The bottom line is that more Americans support legalizing same-sex marriage than oppose it, and that support is only going to grow as younger Americans become more active voters and leaders, and as more people realize that people in states that have legalized same-sex marriage don’t feel they’ve been hurt by it.

I understand that some will view these trends as regrettable and will resist them. I respect their sincerity, but they are swimming against a current of public opinion that is unlikely to change direction.

The question for the rest of us is where we want Maine to be in relation to these trends. If a new national majority is arising in support of marriage equality, do we really want Maine to lag behind, in much the same way that southern states lagged behind and resisted the struggle for racial equality? Or do we want Maine to take its place among those states at the forefront of this movement for fair treatment of all Americans?

On Nov. 6, we will decide if, on this issue, Maine will live up to its state motto, which translates to "I lead."

Michael Sargent is a social psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Bates College.

Michael Sargent

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Jason Gregoire's picture

A second look, and maybe a second option.

The title of Professor Michael Sargent’s OP-ED piece is missing a critical third option of which it promotes primary; it should therefore be more aptly titled “Will Maine lead, FOLLOW, or lag behind?” Professor Sargent’s argument is that Maine will “lead” by coalescing and riding the rising national tide that socially supports same-sex marriage. This is by the nature of his argument Following - not leading. For Maine to “follow” it would slowly accept the controversial expansion of State-defined marriage requisites to include same-sex couples that would conflict with the rights of some institutions such as the Catholic Church. Personally, I support the idea of choice and equal rights under law; however, for Maine to LEAD, Maine has to forge a solution that is inclusionary and maximizes rights for ALL, not just a minority sub-group of society. For Maine to LEAD, a solution needs to be created that doesn’t limit or breach the rights of other critical not-state institutions that includes, but are not limited to: religious organizations, non-profit organizations, private NGOs, et cetera. The current referendum and conversation is a zero-sum argument that can generally be described as one where the amount of “Rights” is fixed and for one group to get more another must loose. This is the fundamental problem with the conversation that adds to its controversial nature and must be changed in order to find a more socially amiable solution. For Maine to LEAD and not just ride the rising tide, Maine must make take a bold and unorthodox step to change the conversation that makes it inclusionary, maximizing Rights for all. Maine should conduct a trial for America that privatizes the granting of Marriage certificates to state-registered private institutions such as social groups, religious organizations, fraternal organizations, et cetera. This is not as radical idea. These registered private groups could provide social marriage contracts in accordance with their own organizational beliefs and values. Additionally, all present state rights/responsibilities currently associated with legal marriage such as taxes, estate laws, inheritance laws, child care/support laws, guardianship, and tax dependents, et cetera would be renamed Legal Unions and would be available to couples comprising a “household”. Legal Unions would strictly be for legal standing of two people that commit to comprising a “household” and would not embody a social standing, social standing would remain with Marriages. The separation of “church and State” might again serve us well. This change might too provide greater stability and protection for children and the vulnerable. With this simple separation of social and legal assignment, a new option to maximum the utility and rights of all interested parties would be achieved, while still protecting: tax/legal rights of lawfully-recognized unions, vulnerable members of Maine’s population such as children, the mental ill, and the handicapped; and greater coverage for healthcare and social security benefits to same-sex couples and their children.
Yes a lot would have to be resolved to make this a smooth transition, but it does something that simply following the rising tide or falling behind does not - it transforms this social debate from a zero-sum conversation to an option that maximizes and protects our rights and social recognition, and doesn’t breach the rights of our important social institutions such as the Catholic Church. Let’s lead the Nation, not be led to an imperfect solution by it.

Interesting, but misguided

Mr. Gregoire's suggestion is certainly novel, but there are several obvious problems with it. First, this suggestion is irrelevant to the issue before voters (and one wonders if it is only presented in an effort to confuse the issue). The issue before voters is simple, and arises from the fact that the state is already (and has long been) in the business of granting marriage licenses to opposite-sex couples. That horse is out of the barn now. The question is whether the state will continue granting those licenses in a discriminatory fashion, which is what it does when it grants them to opposite-sex couples but denies them to same-sex couples, and denies them without any sound reason. If you think the state should not discriminate, then you should vote "Yes" on Question 1 on Tuesday.

Second, Mr. Gregoire is suggesting that, rather than open the institution of state-sanctioned marriage to gay and lesbian couples, we should simply close the entire institution down, leaving the state to license so-called "legal unions" and transferring the right to sanction marriages to private institutions. The logic of this suggestion is identical to that of the Mississippi high school that canceled its prom, rather than allow a lesbian student to bring her female date. Rather than accommodate same-sex couples, we would rather just shut down the prom? Why? What is it about the love of committed same-sex couples that is so objectionable that would lead Mr. Gregoire to suggest that it's better to end state-sanctioned marriage than include them within the institution? I shudder to think what a candid answer to that question would be.

Finally, Mr. Gregoire suggests that a "yes" vote on Question 1 is a vote to somehow breach the rights of religious organizations and the referendum involves a zero-sum game where expanding same-sex couples' rights necessarily entails reducing opposite-sex couples' rights. This is not true--not true at all. I quote verbatim from the language of Question 1: "Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?" That, and only that, is the question before voters. It is about the actions of our state government. The question before voters is whether our state government will grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it already does for opposite-sex couples. Churches are not mentioned in the ballot language, and churches will not have to perform any marriage that they do not consider sanctioned by their faith. As for opposite-sex couples, they may be invited to a few more weddings (oh, my....more parties to attend and a few more presents to buy....good heavens!), but they will not be harmed. The only "right" that will be compromised is the "right" of opponents of same-sex marriage to stop other people from being happy.

This is about fair treatment. If the state licenses marriage for opposite-sex couples (as it has for a long time), then it is only fair to grant the same licenses to same-sex couples who are committed to each other, and want to make a life together. Unless you believe that same-sex couples are second-class citizens, there is no basis at all for denying them the same licenses that the state already grants to opposite-sex couples. In short, if you believe that gays and lesbians are citizens just like all of us, and that they deserve to be treated fairly, then that suggests you should vote "yes" on Question 1.

Jason Gregoire's picture

I appear to have missed my mark...

While I was hoping to open a logical and rational exchange of ideas under the forum of Professor Sargent’s OP-ED piece, it seems instead I uncovered a one-way conversation. So instead of reflecting on counter-arguments and thought-provoking policy innovation, I will laboriously and unfortunately spend this reply unwinding the spin that was very quickly used to silence an interesting conversation.
First, the statement “…this suggestion is irrelevant to the issue before voters (and one wonders if it is only presented in an effort to confuse the issue).” Given your reaction and response, I obviously failed in communicating 1.) my primary concern was with your OP-ED argument construction and claim that Maine is presenting Leading on this issue, and 2.) my goal to discuss potential alternative options (State-Sanctioned Legal Unions & Private marriage certifications) to maximize ALL couples and organizations rights and utility concerned the broader nationwide discussion on same sex-marriage, not Question One on Maine’s ballot. If you review my previous response, I echoed your championing on Yes on Maine’s Question One. Lastly, I’m assuming your allegation that somehow my purely academic suggestion of considering an alternative way to give everyone more rights was trying to confuse Maine voters was an unfortunate emotional reaction that probably would have been best removed.
Response to “The logic of this suggestion is identical to that of the Mississippi high school that canceled its prom, rather than allow a lesbian student to bring her female date. Rather than accommodate same-sex couples, we would rather just shut down the prom? Why?” I’m not sure if your argument holds as Legal Union as I thought I presented it would maintain and expand current State-sanctioned recognition rights, and the “marriage” label would be universally available for everyone. I think that is what we all want - equal rights for everyone? If this politically-loaded question wasn’t controversial and it was as simple as claimed, we wouldn’t be discussing it now. Discrimination is an ugly thing, and if that was the only issue, I believe all states would universally adopt anti-discriminatory laws and this would be a non-issue. But you know this already.
Response to “What is it about the love of committed same-sex couples that is so objectionable that would lead Mr. Gregoire to suggest that it's better to end state-sanctioned marriage than include them within the institution? ” This is yet another emotional, unjustified, and uncorroborated allegation. In my opinion this statement is undeserved and offensive, and I wholeheartedly object. If you review my prior post, you’ll see that no such statement or logic was presented and to the contrary I advocated for the expansion state-sanctioned recognition to ALL couples regardless of preference, so your statement is unfounded.
Response to “…a "yes" vote on Question 1 is a vote to somehow breach the rights of religious organizations and the referendum involves a zero-sum game where expanding same-sex couples' rights necessarily entail reducing opposite-sex couples' rights.“ Again your spin and priority (Question One). Your response and original OP-ED relates to your objective in influencing Question 1 voters, where my discussion relates to ALL initiatives to make ALL couples and ALL organizations better off now and in the future. I was just looking for an informed forum to unemotionally discuss how we can maximize everyone’s benefits in a way that isn’t controversial so that Maine might truly lead the country down an unbiased path that maximizes the rights of all Americans in a way that removes the controversy. It might be impossible and maybe partial victories are all that can be hoped for, but politics is all about compromise right?
Thanks for the rapid response and I look forward to either continuing this conversation or reading your next OP-ED.
~Cheers!

I'll be brief

I doubt anyone is still reading this, Mr. Gregoire, so your time and mine would be better spent doing other things. Indeed, I plan to. But first, just a few comments in brief.

1. At no point in your original post did you "[echo] my championing on Yes on Maine's Question One." You just made that up now. What you did was to couch your odd alternative in the language of "choice and equal rights under law," but you are presenting it as an alternative to the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the institution of state-licensed marriage. To present your proposal as an alternative to same-sex marriage and to explicitly take no position on Question 1, and to now claim to have joined me in endorsing it is ..... well, the most polite thing that can be said is that what you say now is untrue.

2. You repeatedly accuse me of emotion and you say that I make unjustified allegations. But all that I am doing is taking your position seriously. And to take it seriously is to examine what you are saying and point out its parallels. In the case of the Mississippi high school, the school said, "We'll close down our prom rather than let a gay couple participate." Your proposal says, "We'll close down state-licensed marriage rather than let gay couples participate." If you want to defend that position, go for it. But don't pretend that it isn't parallel to a case so obviously similar. That's like acting as if up is down and down is up.

3. I know you are eager to paint yourself as a reasonable participant in civic discourse, but rules are rules. There is a question before voters on Nov. 6. That question is a simple "yes or no" question: Does each voter want to allow the state to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples? Period. Perhaps there might have been a time, months ago, when it would have been appropriate for you to offer your novel proposal. But that's not what Maine voters are going to decide on. I'm sorry if you feel silenced, but the need for orderly elections precludes someone standing up less than a week before the election to say, "Hey, we shouldn't vote on this....we should vote on something else." Shall we also just rip up the ballots for the U.S. Senate race and put Eliot Cutler's name on too? Come on, man. Be serious.

4. Finally, yes, I am emotional about these issues. Sometimes emotions are useful guides to judgment. Compassion, empathy, outrage in the face of unfairness, these are all emotions worth having and following. Anger at injustice (as well as compassion for its victims) motivated abolitionists to oppose slavery. Was that emotionality wrong? In fact,there is evidence that some of the most complex, coldly cognitive reasoning at the time was displayed by those searching for compromises that would have preserved slavery in parts of the U.S. As that case demonstrated, sometimes emotion is what leads one to a position that is vindicated in the end. In this case, when I see the state grant marriage licenses to opposite-sex couples but deny them to same-sex couples, and when no good reason can be offered for that difference in treatment, I get angry because I don't like unfairness. And I think it's OK to be angry in such circumstances. I would hope that unfairness would make you angry too.

And now, on Tuesday, we have a chance to end that unfairness. I hope we do.

Zack Lenhert's picture

According to the Maine

According to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, "It is important to remember that a registered domestic partnership is NOT the same as a marriage and does not entitle partners to rights other than those for which the registry was intended. This registry is intended to allow individuals to have rights of inheritance as well as the rights to make decisions regarding disposal of their deceased partners remains."

THAT is the crux of the argument. It's about LEGAL RIGHTS granted by the State, It's NOT just about silly definitions.

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

Relationship...

How will you relate to me if I vote no on Question 1?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You will be vilified and

You will be vilified and called a perverted bigot.That's usually their standard approach.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Will Maine lead or will it lag behind?

Mike, 12.11.27 17:11
. . Maine will lurch forward ?
Over this past month i had the opportunity to , once again , enjoy the - most - delicious berry pie served up by two older women in _______ ME , who , ( i am certain ) , have been enjoying marital and conjugal bliss since sometime last century . When i attended Bates ( '74 - '78 ) , i used to purchase similar yummy pies from Arch and Shell King on Rt. 202 ( 302 ? ) in Leeds , both gay and older gentle-men who lived together as friends and lovers and were as caring and pleasant a folk as you might meet any where in the Great State of Maine
Tolerance is a hallmark of Maine ever since Bates accepted blacks into a small Baptist seminary in L / A about 150 years ago
Mainers love love as much as anyone else
All one can really say to bigots and homphobes one encounters along the way is something along the line of , " What if your child or grandchild was gay , lesbian , bisexual or transgender ? Would you love her or him any less ? Would you want them to be less happy because of it ? Would you deny them the rights you enjoy ? "
Of course not
Ludicrous •
Happy All Saints Day \ Night /s Dr. Dosh , Hawai'i :D

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

In my opinion...

this is a classic case of a person who believes in diversity as long as we all think alike.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

It's called libthink.

It's called libthink.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Tom , Post a picture • It's

Tom ,
Post a picture •
It's EZ to do
Happy Halloween
:D
/s, Steve

 's picture

What the issue is

Throughout your column, Michael Sargent, you have misrepresented the issue that we are contending about, so naturally you arrive at conclusions that have little to do with reality. The issue is simply one of words. Same-sex couples are perfectly free to get together and do whatever they think appropriate; the only reason we don't call it "marriage" is because that word has another meaning. Some of us continue to speak English.

So it has nothing to do with "legalizing" anything. "Same-sex marriage" is not the name of an illegal activity, it is just a misuse of words. And certainly there is nothing unfair about using words accurately. If same-sex couples want to come up with a new term for their relationships they can probably get most people to use it. Telling people that they are being discriminated against because we can't change the English language is unconscionably divisive and serves no good purpose at all.

Your attempt to appeal to people's desire to be trendy is shameful and hardly deserves comment, but I'll just point out that whenever this question has been on the ballot in any state it has been voted down.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Great post.....

Great post.....

Susan Ravdin's picture

Words are more than ... Well words

I've been reading all the exchanges relating to Prof. Sargent's op-ed piece, and have to have my say. Yes, we are talking about a word here (marriage), and yes, that word has had a certain meaning. But the English language is one of the most malleable in the world, and definitions are constantly changing as society and its needs change. If not, students wouldn't need Cliff notes (oops, I think I just dated myself) when reading Shakespeare, as we would all still be speaking Elizabethan English.

The question, as I see it, is has society changed enough, or in such a way, as to require the definition to be written? Perhaps, perhaps not. Next Tuesday should tell.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Licia ? 12.11.27 17:30

Licia ? 12.11.27 17:30 Hawai'i time • 
We believe it's much more that a question of semantics or politics . We simply love love and include it in our lexicon , no matter what language we speak ( En'sha'Allah , O'ja'la & God willing :) We despise , dislike , and hate intolerance but not the people who practice it . Hate is just an other four letter word . Love is forgiveness , caring , thoughtful , reconciling , and all that other ƒunny stuff mentioned in the New Testament by that single guy with 12 boyfriends ( the Apostles ) and the whore ( Mary Magdaline ) who died about 2012 years ago for our sins after being betrayed with a kiss
That's about all there is to it as far as i can see
Happy All Saints Day . We have a new one here - today - : Mary Anne Cope , in addition to our patron saint Saint Damien . They both worked with lepers and died from leprosy on Mo'lu'kai ( the forgotten island )
Enjoy all the sweet , lovely , tasty , and yummy candy you'll be giving to the young happy children who will knock on your door Wednesday night
Shalom , Salem , Peace & Love
:D /s, Steve , a practicing Christian Mainers United member from the rainbow warrior state of Hawai'i

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

32 states, in fact, have

32 states, in fact, have voted against same-sex marriage. Hopefully, Maine will continue to lead as Mr. Sargent suggests, and become the 33rd state to vote against it.
That someone affiliated with Bates college is speaking publicly in favor of same-sex marriage is no surprise. One could not fill a bathroom towel closet with the people affiliated with Bates who are NOT in favor of same-sex marriage.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Paul , 12.11.27 17:45 hst

Paul , 12.11.27 17:45 hst ?
AaAarGgh matie .? Bates is , in fact , a very liberal arts and science college . We just this past week installed a new female President we are happy to report . At $50k per student x 1,600 students every year ? $US80,000,00 / yr. to the greater L/A economy ( not to mention what us alumni contribute ) we help your community out . Local taxes stay local . ..
Where'd you say you went to college again ?
Don't go and cut you nose off despite your face
There are much larger issues than this . . ...
Happy Halloween , pirate . Rum , bum and bugger ( i.e., the British navy )
/s , Steve
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Log_Cabin_Republicans

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

AARRGHH!!! I'll spare you

AARRGHH!!! I'll spare you from a trip on the plank this one time. Where do you think a pirate would go to college?

Actually, no

Ms. Kuenning,

Your comment is a red herring. What's at issue is exactly what I state clearly in the opening paragraph of my column--the state's policy on issuing marriage licenses. Marriage licenses are legal documents. They confer concrete privileges on the couples who hold them (such as the right to visit one's spouse in an intensive care unit, or the right to jointly file a tax return). Consequently, this debate is not simply about what labels couples elect to employ for themselves, as you misleadingly imply. It is about access to legal recognition by the state as a couple entitled to those privileges. Currently, our state allows opposite-sex couples to obtain such licenses, but denies same-sex couples access to those licenses. For the state to treat one class of couples differently than another class of couples, and to do so for no good reason (other than that that's the way we've always done things) is discriminatory and it is unfair. I understand that you are committed to the conclusion that it is fair practice, but for you to deny that the state's policy on issuing marriage licenses is not a legal issue suggests that you are either woefully misguided or simply arguing in bad faith.

As for your last sentence, it is striking that you accuse me of appealing to people's desire to be trendy and you imply that such an appeal is shameful, but then you go on to appeal to trends yourself, noting that electoral trends have been unkind to those of us who advocate for marriage equality. I suppose we must each choose the trend of which we will be a part. I choose to stand with those who are advocating for the rights of gay and lesbian couples who love each other and are committed to each other and just want the state to treat them the same as it does other couples. If gay and lesbian couples want to dedicate their lives to each other, to start a family together, to contribute to their communities together, to pay their friggin taxes together, to grow old together, and in growing old, to be confident that no matter where they go, they will be permitted to care for each other, and they just want the state to license them to do all of that, as it already does for heterosexual couples, then I stand with them, and I stand with those who advocate for them.

That's why I will vote "yes" on Question 1.

 's picture

It is not about taxes, hospital visiting, etc.

You are fairly typical of those in your camp that you change the subject to legal benefits that attach to marriage when it is pointed out that the present controversy is about words. It would easy for your group to campaign for those benefits to be given to same-sex couples, and they would probably win, but they won't do it, because their primary interest is in changing the English language. I think that if they expressed their intention in plain terms it wouldn't make nearly such good political rhetoric from their point of view. Apparently a large part of the public is under the illusion that there is some activity, presently illegal, called "same-sex marriage," that people are getting arrested for, and you are trying to legalize it, but there is no such thing.

Please note I said nothing about people who "advocate for marriage equality," as that is just one of the silly expressions that people like you throw around. This election has nothing to do with equality, pound your drums though you may. We all have the same rights, and they include the right to speak our native language.

You accuse me of appealing to trends, simply because I pointed out that in every state where the people have been allowed to vote on it, they have voted against changing the definition of marriage. I said that only because your article contained the false statement that a majority of Americans are on your side of the issue. The evidence is otherwise. But I would vote for what I believe is right whether or not I thought a majority was on my side, or regardless of what I thought the trend was. If that's also your view nobody would ever guess it from the way you wrote your column.

You're ignoring the issue

As much as George Orwell might enjoy your rhetoric, you're off the mark. The issue is simple, and it is one of equaity. The state grants licenses (legal documents) to opposite-sex couples (and those documents are of significant consequence), but it denies them to same-sex couples. So opposite sex couples have access to marriage licenses while same-sex couples do not. And there is no good reason to treat those classes of couples differently. That is discrimination.

For some reason, you are unwilling or unable to even speak to the fact that what we are voting on is a policy on the granting of licenses, which is about more than mere words.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

While Frank Sinatra sings,

While Frank Sinatra sings, "Stormy Weather", the flies and the spiders get along together....

 's picture

Again--what the issue is

Michael, I'm only going to reply to you once this round--your tendency to insert 2 or 3 comments to every one of mine strikes me as one I'd like to avoid.

I can't help the way the ballot question is worded. "Marriage licenses" are meaningless unless we know what the word "marriage" means, and the whole point of your campaign is to change the definition of the word "marriage." The issue was easier to address in 2009 when we had a specific piece of legislation to discuss. That legislation spelled out what changes in the definitions of words were being prescribed. It stated, for instance, that "'bride,' 'groom,' 'husband,' 'wife,' 'widow' and 'widower' must be construed to be gender neutral for all purposes throughout the law." As we all know, these words are not gender neutral in common English. The bill was vetoed by the voters.

I have assumed that if Question 1 passes, the legislature will then again have the job of producing new legislation that makes sense of the idea of issuing "marriage licenses" to same-sex couples. The statutes at present are in the condition they were in when the 2009 bill was vetoed by the people, so the licenses would be completely meaningless without new legislation redefining the words in the statutes.

Of course if they don't pass such new legislation, we are left with "marriage licenses" being issued that are completely useless because the couple receiving them cannot possibly marry given what the word presently means in English and in the law. But I have assumed that a majority Yes vote on Question 1 would be taken as a mandate for the legislature to redefine the words in the statutes. I don't think that is too much to assume.

And yes, it is precisely about words. Not about pieces of paper. Pieces of paper are meaningless if we don't know what the words in them mean.

I don't think you know where public opinion is headed in the long run any more than you know the outcome of this year's election.

I did look up the website you provided a link to, where you said that "real people's lives are at stake," thinking that you were going to show us how somebody would die if we didn't pass Question 1. It turned out to be a guy who is ill and who considers himself "married" to his gay male partner but was hoping his "beloved state of Maine" would recognize this relationship before he died. Well, there is nothing to stop him and his partner from registering with the state of Maine as a domestic partnership. If he thinks that somehow his beloved state doesn't appreciate him because it can't change the English language for him, that's very sad, but the fault lies either with himself or with whoever indoctrinated him into this delusion. We cannot do anybody a favor by misusing language.

Zack Lenhert's picture

According to the Maine

According to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, "It is important to remember that a registered domestic partnership is NOT the same as a marriage and does not entitle partners to rights other than those for which the registry was intended. This registry is intended to allow individuals to have rights of inheritance as well as the rights to make decisions regarding disposal of their deceased partners remains."

THAT is the crux of the argument. It's about LEGAL RIGHTS granted by the State, It's NOT just about silly definitions.

Miss Kuenning, would you be in favor of allowing ALL legal protections granted by marriage liscences be granted to "domestic partnerships"?

AL PELLETIER's picture

Holy smoke Licia

My sentiment exactly, but I could never present it so eloquently.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Pretty awesome, eh, Al?

Pretty awesome, eh, Al?

Well, I think I'll let you

Well, I think I'll let you have the last word.

and....

And as the public opinion data indicate, more and more people are joining the side of those of us advocating for marriage equality. I just hope that Maine can look back, years from now, when more and more states have shifted, and proudly proclaim that we were among the first to legalize same-sex marriage through the ballot box.

 's picture

Not so

First of all, there are no polls on what people think about "marriage equality" because that is just a political slogan, and a very silly one. We have equal rights now.

But more generally, you don't know that more and more people are joining your side. Opinion polls are notoriously unreliable; let's see what happens in the actual elections. It wouldn't surprise me if Maine went the same way it did in 2009 and by a larger margin. But that you keep harping on this point suggests that you expect to influence people to vote your way just because they think your side will win. I don't know which side will win in any particular election, but I will continue to vote against attempts to change the English language by ballot. It's a really poor idea.

And until you can show me a case where somebody was arrested and prosecuted for committing "same-sex marriage" I will continue to point out that there is nothing to "legalize."

Real people

Oh, and lest anyone think we are only discussing abstractions, this piece is a nice reminder of the fact that real people's lives are at stake: http://www.pressherald.com/news/clock-winds-down-on-mainers-gay-marriage...

Also, at no point in the

Also, at no point in the article did I claim to know what will happen in this specific election. My point is that the polls give an indication where opinion is headed in the long run (and I suspect not that far into the future).

See my last comment.

See my last comment.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Mike 12.11.28 Sunday 18:00

Mike 12.11.28 Sunday 18:00 hst ?
Denial • A river in Egypt ?
Some of us gave up arguing with people who systematically intend to deny others' God given rights and have little yappy dogs as their pictures a long , long time ago • 
Love , Steve and ohana , Hawai'i
" Obama is ohana and ohana means family and family means never being left alone or forgotten ." - Lilo

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

It's a CAT....might be time

It's a CAT....might be time to get rid of the 3XXX cheaters from Rite Aide and get yourself a real eye exam, Stevo.

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