LEWISTON — Advocates for both sides of the gay marriage issue will have a chance to share their views at this month's Great Falls Forum presentation Thursday, Oct. 15. It will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in Callahan Hall at the Lewiston Public Library.
Speaking on the topic "Marriage in Maine: Gay or Nay" will be civil rights advocate Lew Alessio and Mark Mutty, chairman of the political action committee Stand for Marriage Maine.
Alessio is a lifelong champion for social equality who, since 1994, has served as a speaker with Maine Speakout, which seeks to address issues of discrimination in the state. A former actor, director, playwright and teacher, he currently works as a public health educator and the program coordinator of MaineGeneral Health's HIV prevention education program for men under the auspices of the Maine and national Centers for Disease Control.
In this role he has been effective in furthering understanding of the direct correlation between the spread of HIV/AIDS and discrimination, and as a result was the recipient in 2007 of Equality Maine's Cameron Duncan Award for outstanding achievement.
In addition to his experience as a civil rights activist, Alessio will bring a personal perspective to the upcoming forum program. Ten years ago his life partner, with whom he had shared a home for 30 years, passed away from pancreatic cancer. Because Alessio was not recognized as a legal relative, he was not allowed to make any decisions regarding the handling of the his partner's remains. The complications that followed motivated Alessio to pursue marriage equality in Maine.
Marc Mutty has served for many years as the director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. In this position, he has functioned as spokesman as well as registered lobbyist for the diocese, testifying frequently before legislative committees and commissions. He has co-chaired a legislative commission to study poverty among working parents, and has been involved with several other commissions, committees and statewide referendums over the years.
Mutty is a past trustee of Mercy Hospital's board of directors, member and past president to the Maine Equal Justice Partners, a member of Consumers for Affordable Health Care, vice president of the Maine Council of Churches and a member of the South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Rotary Club. He also serves on a number of boards and committees for other service organizations.
Lewiston Public Library Director Rick Speer said he anticipates Thursday's Great Falls Forum to attract a large and enthusiastic turnout, and feels "privileged to be able to host such a timely examination of both sides of this important issue which is up for public vote in November."
The audience will be invited to submit questions to the speakers following their presentation. Admission to the event is free, with attendees invited to bring brown-bag lunches. Bottled water will be available.
Attendees may also take advantage of the forum's partnership with Guthries cafe and request one of the eatery's sandwiches or salads to be delivered to the library in advance of the talk. Orders should be placed preferably by 7 p.m. the day before the event.
Partnering with the library as cosponsors of the Great Falls Forum series are the Sun Journal, Bates College and St. Mary's Regional Medical Center.
The Lewiston Public Library is located at 200 Lisbon St., at the corner of Pine Street. More information on Thursday's lecture, or other upcoming events in the Great Falls Forum series, is available by contacting the Lewiston Public Library at 513-3135 or www.LPLonline.org.