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10/01/2009

Maine's Title 19-A §650: At least there's one thing social conservs found unimpeachable in 1997

by Jeremy Hooper

Of a press conference at which Mainers of faith are meeting to express their support for marriage equality for all, the anti-equality folks at Stand For Marriage Maine say the following:

“Let’s also be clear what position those gathered today are taking. LD 1020, proposed law passed by the Legislature, signed by the Governor, and now subject to the Peoples’ Veto, makes some fundamental changes to Maine law. For example, it deletes from state law the following, existing statute:

The union of one man and one woman joined in traditional monogamous marriage is of inestimable value to society; the State has a compelling interest to nurture and promote the unique institution of traditional monogamous marriage in the support of harmonious families and the physical and mental health of children; and that the State has the compelling interest in promoting the moral values inherent in traditional monogamous marriage.

“I am sure they have a spiritual basis for wanting this passage to be deleted from state law…perhaps they can further explain that.”

Stand For Marriage Maine Issues Statement about Opposition to Question 1 [SFMM]

Well we're not sure how the faith leaders would respond and we won't try to speak for them. But we know what we would say: That despite the long-term, lock-solid holiness that Stand For Marriage maine wishes to place upon the language mentioned above, the truth is that it itself was placedScreen Shot 2009-10-01 At 3.24.14 Pm into the law only 12 short years ago. And this statute, adopted during the wave of DOMA fright that swept this nation around the time, was adopted by the legislature, the very same elected body that Stand For Marriage Maine is hoping to overrule via their "people's veto." So if the "yes on 1" side can claim a "spiritual basis" for using the legislature to cast an ill-advised mid-90's vote against gay lives and loves, then people of accepting faith can ABSOLUTELY find their own bases for using the legislature to remedy the past misstep! In fact, we would argue that it it everyone's spiritual duty to overturn unjust hostility.

The real question is why Stand For Marriage Maine finds principles like liberty and justice for all tax-paying citizens to be up for negotiation, yet considers 12 year old statutes to be sacrosanct. We're as big a fans of 1997 as anyone (it was a particularly good "Real World" season), but we'd never be so bold as to suggest that it was a year without some misses (Spice World, anyone?).

***

**UPDATE: Here's the info about today's pro-equality, pro-faith "No on 1" event:

Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry Speaks Out in Opposition to Question 1
Faith Leaders Support Equality, Call for NO on 1 in November

Portland & Bangor, Maine (Thursday, October 1, 2009) -- Faith leaders from the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine gathered simultaneously today in Portland and Bangor to endorse NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality. Representing 18 faith traditions from Fort Kent to Kittery and from Farmington to Castine, the coalition of active and retired clergy believe that all Maine families should be treated equally under the law.

The coalition, according to its key spokespersons, said only marriage equality confers full dignity and respect to loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. The religious leaders also said they are speaking out so that people of faith know that many faith leaders believe deeply in fully supporting all their congregant families.

“I believe that faithful, lifelong, monogamous relationships are among the building blocks of a healthy and stable society, “ said Rt. Rev. Steven T. Lane, IX Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. “Last spring, the rights and obligations of civil marriage were extended to all Maine citizens. The passage of Question 1 would deny those rights . . . create two classes of citizens and deny one group what we believe is best for them and for society.”

“Marriage creates and enhances stable, committed relationships and the sharing of economic resources and responsibility. Marriage nurtures the individual, the couple, and children,” said Rabbi Darrah Lerner of Congregation Beth El in Bangor. “Good marriages benefit our communities and express our religious values of long-term commitment and faithfulness.”

Coalition members also noted that throughout Maine's history, religious liberties have been both valued and protected under the law and that nothing in the new marriage equality law threatens that tradition.

“Religious groups will have the same freedom to act or not act with respect to same-sex unions as they have now,” said Retired United Methodist Pastor and District Superintendent, Rev. Donald Rudalevige, who lives in Cape Elizabeth.

“It is so very important that we affirm the rights of all families in the State of Maine by voting No on 1, for it is my belief that all families are loved by God,” said Rev. Becky Gunn, Pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bangor. “And, all families deserve equal protection under the law.”

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