The repeal of same-sex marriage by voters at the polls Tuesday should not deter important efforts to instill equality under the law, but rather dictate its future course through the Legislature.
Some, in the heated aftermath of Question 1's approval, called the vote a statement of intolerance. It isn't — this interpretation would mean a majority of Mainers hold hatred in higher esteem than human rights, which is unfair and callous. That is not who we are.
We are instead a unique blend of people, rural and urban, secular and religious, who viewed Question 1 with opinions shaped by a varied blend of backgrounds and lifestyles. Fifty-three percent of us are not bigots, just as 47 percent of us are not foot-soldiers for the "homosexual agenda."
If it were that easy to slap labels on us, the professional pollsters wouldn't be so perplexed about our voting results, and our senators' political sentiments would be as predictable as the sunrise. Instead, Maine is a unique purplish state that defies categorization into the tired hues of "red" or "blue."
So, we should reject the aspersions being cast upon us about Question 1 and focus on what should happen next. In our opinion, the right path is for the Legislature to use Maine's existing domestic partner laws as the springboard for providing equal benefits to all couples and families.
When enacted in 2004, the domestic partner registry was hailed as a turning point for human rights. There's little reason it cannot be again, if considered the foundation for a broad expansion of the benefits now available to married couples to all couples of the same, or different, sexes.
What this campaign made crystal clear is that inequality under the law exists for same-sex couples; the result of Question 1 does nothing to change this sad fact. The repeal of same-sex marriage should not hinder further progress toward doing what is right and just — that is, treating all citizens equally under the law.