Initiative under way to legalize same-sex marriage

LEWISTON — Less than two years after voters repealed the state's fledgling same-sex marriage law, gay rights advocates announced Thursday they're beginning a campaign to convince a majority of Mainers to change their minds.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert announces his support for gay marriage in front of a crowd outside City Hall in Lewiston on Thursday.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Stan Davis of Wayne shows his support for marriage equality outside City Hall in Lewiston on Thursday.

Amid the occasional heckles of disapproving passers-by, a crowd of about 70 gay marriage supporters gathered at Lewiston City Hall at a rally kicking off a citizen initiative to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

If successful in gathering more than 57,000 signatures, the issue could appear on the November 2012 ballot. It will ask voters if they favor a law allowing marriage for same-sex couples.

Supporters hope to ride the momentum of the recent approval of a gay marriage law by New York lawmakers last week. However, representatives said their decision to launch the ballot initiative in Maine had been in the works since 2009 when Mainers repealed the same-sex marriage law by a vote of 53-47 percent.

Matthew McTighe of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders said organizers were hopeful that Mainers were becoming more open to same-sex marriage.

"We’ve seen some real movement on the issue," said McTighe, referring to recent statewide polling showing a majority of respondents favoring gay marriage. "We feel like we can continue to build on that. It’s going to be a challenge, we do know that. But I think time is on our side now and I think people have really evolved on this issue and are continuing to evolve."

McTighe and supporters of the initiative know they'll face some tough opposition, just as they did in 2009 when the National Organization for Marriage spent more than $1 million trying to defeat the same-sex law enacted by the Legislature.

The effort is being launched by EqualityMaine. Executive Director Betsy Smith said her organization was going door to door to change hearts and minds.

"We are here to tell you that we intend to finish the job we began in 2009 and bring marriage equality to Maine," Smith said.

Marc Mutty of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland said in a news release that his organization will fight for marriage "between a man and a woman."

"The people of this state rejected same-sex marriage in November of 2009 and should not be put through what will likely be another divisive, drawn-out campaign," Mutty said. "The people of this country have rejected same sex marriage in all cases where the issue has been put on the ballot; there is no reason why we should expect a different outcome this time."

Mutty said the diocese's role in a public campaign to "preserve marriage" was yet to be determined.

Mutty led the repeal effort in 2009 but later expressed regrets in a documentary about the tactics deployed during that effort. At one point Mutty says on camera, "I fear I'll be remembered for the work I did on this campaign."

Mutty also expressed hope that he would be forgiven "for the ways in which I might have betrayed my own self in this endeavor."

Katie Zema, a college student from South Portland, attended Thursday's rally. Zema said she worked during the 2009 effort to preserve the same-sex marriage law.

"I missed school on Election Day canvassing across the state," Zema said. "I was crushed (after the vote). But I’m hoping to be back doing volunteer work and I’ll be here when Maine passes marriage equality."

She added, "What’s clear to me is that the right to marry is a civil right. If you vote against same-sex marriage, you’re voting to take away somebody’s civil right."

Darryl Woodward of Lewiston disagreed. During the rally, Woodward yelled to the speakers, "What you're teaching these kids ain't right!"

"This stuff isn’t God’s way," Woodward said in a later interview. "God made Adam and Eve. ... Man and women were made to reproduce. You can’t take two women and make a kid. You can’t take two men and make a kid."

smistler@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Definition of marriage

The word "marriage," with its meaning of a union between a man and a woman, was not invented by lawmakers. It goes back much further than any government we know of today. It is also not the property of any religion. People of all religions and none have been getting married and talking about marriage for as many centuries as anyone can trace. This is just common speech.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Define marriage

Marriage as defined by law says that it is between a consenting man and woman. This definition was crafted by lawmakers who chose to make it so . The dictionary defines marriage as a union. The law says it is between a man and a woman. Religion says marriage can be between a man and a woman and is indissoluble according to the Catholic faith or could be between a man and several women according to the Mormon faith and between children according to some cultures who arrange marriages. The law says you may only have 1 partner and you may divorce that partner and take another and you must consent freely. People who say marriage is for procreation are ignoring the fact that of the nearly 8 billion people who populate the planet many came without benefit of marriage. Marriage according to the law was defined by lawmakers and they would be within their rights to redefine it if they chose.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Define marriage

Marriage as defined by law says that it is between a consenting man and woman. This definition was crafted by lawmakers who chose to make it so . The dictionary defines marriage as a union. The law says it is between a man and a woman. Religion says marriage can be between a man and a woman and is indissoluble according to the Catholic faith or could be between a man and several women according to the Mormon faith and between children according to some cultures who arrange marriages. The law says you may only have 1 partner and you may divorce that partner and take another and you must consent freely. People who say marriage is for procreation are ignoring the fact that of the nearly 8 billion people who populate the planet many came without benefit of marriage. Marriage according to the law was defined by lawmakers and they would be within their rights to redefine it if they chose.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

Forcing it down your throat?

You might come up with a better metaphor, Jim. Or is a Freudian slip?

 's picture

So called Gay Marriage

Here we go again. Hasn't this issue been voted on twice and been rejected twice by the people in the state of Maine? I guess three strikes and you're out. Why do the gay and lesbians feel they have to force this issue down our throats? As far as I know they have the same rights and privileges as everyone else. Please stop the nonsense and let's work together on more important issues like jobs and ending unemployment, helping people stay in their homes etc.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Well stated. They (lesbians

Well stated. They (lesbians and homos) were all jacked up over the right to civil unions a few years back; remember that? They were telling us then, that civil unions would never lead to them wanting marriage, but untrue to their words, as they so often are, we're right back with the same sex marriage again even though it has been, as you stated, defeated twice by the voters of Maine. In fact, of the six states that have approved same sex marriage, NONE had done it by a vote of the people. All have been put into law by the legislatures of those states. Yes, as you have said above,Jim; they are indeed jamming this issue down our throats. Like the metaphor or not; it's happening and some of us are pretty damn sick of it.

 's picture

The face of hatred is wasting away

Selective mis-reading of religion is just a cover-up for either mental instability or hatred and it is slowly disappearing. First, because its foolish. No fundamentalists follow, support, or believe in much of the stupidity in the early books of the bible (written when people thought the earth was the center of the universe).
Marriage is not older than government. You have no marriage without government even in the bible. The earliest and currently most popular form of marriage is polygamy. So the statement the marriage is only between a man and a woman are obviously false.
What they really mean is that their christian belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman and they have the right to force other people to follow their belief. This idea is so unamerican it deserves nothing but contempt.

 's picture

that's right

Marriage is a CIVIL contract, no religion needed.

 's picture

Misuse of words

This entire campaign seems to depend on misusing the English language, just as it did in 2009. There is no question of "legalizing" "same-sex marriage," because "same-sex marriage" isn't illegal. When was the last time someone got arrested for committing "same-sex marriage"? The phrase is, however, a contradiction in terms because "marriage" means the union of a man and a woman. Not because the state says so--because that's the English language, which existed long before the state, as did marriage. Government doesn't invent language, and it doesn't invent marriage.

Jim Cyr's picture

Words

Ms.Kuenning, you summed it up well.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

So let me get this straight ( no pun inteneded)

Shall we revisit Genesis? (But I hate that Phil Collins!) Adam makes Eve from his own rib. ("Mmmmmm . . . ribs" --Homer Simpson) He then has intercourse with his rib, er, Eve, and has kids (and we know how Cain and Able faired) who then have kids. . . . So autoerotic incest and marriage is fine, but gays can't marry? That's rich.

What about intersex individuals (formerly and wrongly called hermaphrodites), which account for thousands upon thousands of babies born each year? Unfortunately, this one man, one woman nonsense is oversimplified, as is the fundamentalist way -- yes or no, this or that, up or down, black or white. It's all so easy. No thinking necessary. That's why it's so appealing to people who can't handle ambiguity, nuance, or shades of grey. (See: Palin, Bachmann, Beck, Lord Voldmemort)

Nature is full of queer love, btw. Dolphins, for instance. (Now that's hot!)

And lastly, the people who are most against gays and gay marriage actually have latent homosexual fantasies they repress by raging against those that they secretly would love to indulge with in utter licentiousness. (Cue Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On."

Like the world doesn't have bigger fish to fry, people. Heck, gays should be allowed to as miserable as the rest of us heterosexually married folks. *wink*

Unfortunately, referendums are anathema to our nation's representative democracy was intended by the Founders. So much for you Constitution "originalists." Our legislature did their job and made gay marriage law. It was only the tyranny of the masses -- and religious BS -- that undid the deed.

And we all know marriage is so sacred -- that's why Reagan had two of them, Rush three, Newt three, McCain two, George Will two, Dick Armey two, etc.

Judge not, lest ye be judged. If only . . .

 's picture

take a good look at the Yes

take a good look at the Yes on 1 side admitting that they had to stoop to dirty tactics to get their victory in 2009.......Question 1 A Documentary: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qc2fwGNLv4

 's picture

truth

No Larry, the Catholic Church's leadership in its official capacity admitted it lied and deceived the people. One should not condemn the Catholic Church for the sin committed by Malone and his evil cohorts like Nutty, but after this struggle if Malone takes the same position that he took on 1 in 2009 his co-religionists should move him to a homeless shelter.

GARY SAVARD's picture

As long as it's legal, I

As long as it's legal, I agree with you 100%. On the same train of thought, If the majority of the people find it offensive, then it probably shouldn't be legal. This rationale can be applied to many, many things that groups of people advocate for that aren't legal for various reasons.

 's picture

Key word in your statement is

Key word in your statement is MAJORITY, who are they to decide what 2 other adults do? I am pretty sure back in the 60's the MAJORITY would have said no to interracial marriage as well, does that make it right? No. Just Saying.

 's picture

Who would have figured that

Who would have figured that Mayor Larry would be there. (sarcasm) While he was sniffing out a photo op, punks were beating up a mailman down the street.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

Where was the mayopr supposed to be?

Flying through the skies above the city, spotting crimes before they happen?

Jim Cyr's picture

Priorities

Mr, Wright, I guess Mayor Gilbert shows his priorities well!

 's picture

like before .....

they just don't understand maine does not want gay couples to marry it is between a man and a woman who can procreate it will get voted down once again hopefully for the last time

 's picture

It is going to be a tighter

It is going to be a tighter race every time it is voted on because the older generation pass away. The younger generation does not find anything wrong with two consenting adults having the freedom to marry. Churches wonder why they are losing people, look into the crowd next time and see how many 30 or younger are in the crowd. If we go into the next life, where ever or what ever that is, at least we will have a clean conscious.

 's picture

rich

"Man and women were made to reproduce. You can’t take two women and make a kid. You can’t take two men and make kid." So, any married couples who do not, or cannot, reproduce? All those marriages don't count? And where do test tube babies figure into all this?

 's picture

"Occasional heckling"? One

"Occasional heckling"?

One guy...

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