Editor's note: Only a portion of this story ran in Monday's edition. This is the complete version
AUBURN — More than 200 people stood in support of gay rights, and against the hot-button ballot question putting Maine voters in the spotlight, during the Interfaith Celebration of Marriage Equality held at the First Universalist Church in Auburn on Sunday.
Some stood as traditional couples, some stood as same-sex couples and some stood alone. But they stood united to protect the rights of gays and lesbians across the state and equality for all under God.
"I'm not a prophet, but I suggest to you that the question before the people of the state of Maine is no great mystery," said Rabbi Hillel Katzir, of Temple Shalom. "We know what God requires of us . . .we know what is expected of us — only justice, kindness and humility."
Katzir was one of 10 representatives from various faiths and places of worship in the Twin Cities who participated in the hour-long service. Like his fellow religious leaders, he encouraged the crowd to vote "no" on Question 1 in order to preserve the right of all Maine couples — regardless of sexual orientation — to marry.
The issue is shining a national spotlight on Maine as people from both sides wage a battle over whether or not to repeal the law granting marriage equality signed by Gov. John Baldacci this past spring.
"As a citizen, I'm here because our country is one in which civil liberties are to be assured. As a person of faith, I'm here because my God is one of mercy and love," said Klara Tammany, a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Lewiston, who works with the church's Urban Ministry. "As both a citizen and a person of faith, I must hope and pray that we err on the side of equal rights and compassion."
In addition to religious leaders addressing equal rights for all Mainers and urging the crowd to vote down Question 1, the service also featured several hymns supporting gay rights and calling on the community to stand together in strength as one unified voice.
A call and response reading led by Ethelind Wright, senior deacon of High Street Congregational Church in Auburn, summed up the theme of the evening. Following Wright's prompts about subjects such as peace, justice and equality in race, ethnicity and sexual orientation, the crowd answered "What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with your God."
The Rev. Dr. Jodi Cohen Hayashida of First Universalist Church said that the church opened its doors to host the interfaith service because of its founding principals support the inherent worth and dignity of every person and call for justice, equality and compassion for all.
"Support for equality of all the people of the state of Maine is clearly in line with our teachings — and to not support marriage equality flies in the face of that," Hayashida said.
Everyone attending the service was given a strip of ribbon in varying colors that they were asked to tie to a banner during a ritual of celebration and support. According to Emily Wright-Timko, associate multi-faith chaplain at Bates College, the ribbons symbolize the ties of marriage, the binding of laws and the knots of commitment to equality.
"It's a lot like what I saw back in the '60s," said Dave Dawn, 69, a member of First Universalist Church, talking about how interracial marriage was once against the law. "It just makes me mad when I see people treated that way, you know? I prefer a society based on love, not fear."