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09/10/2012

Emrich to Maine: Protect the sanctity of late '90s missteps

by Jeremy Hooper

In two different marriage fights in Maine, I've watched those on the so-called "Protect Marriage" side tout the following language as if its is some longheld, God-ordained verbiage to which the state is forever bound. This latest reference comes from Bob Emrich, one of the co-heads of the coalition effort in both '09 and now:

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What these folks never tell you is that this language was only put into state law in 1997, when a wave of DOMA era anti-gayness was tarnishing various constitutions across this great nation. That's it—it's fifteen years old. It's not some legal gospel that's been guiding the Pine Tree State for all of time—it's a late 20th century misstep that will, ideally, be remedied by this state's voters as they express their newfound commitment to equality.

Oh, and who put this language into the law in the first place? Well, the state legislature, of course. That's right—the very same body of lawmakers that folks like Bob Emrich condemned as being activist-minded usurpers of the state constitution when they approved marriage equality back in '09 is the very same body that implemented this decade-and-a-half–old language. So apparently it's totally kosher for a legislature to act on a marital matter without consulting "the people" when it comes to implementing bias, but it's completely out of line to act in a pro-equality way without first holding a majority up/down vote. How's that for fairness?

Then again, when has the "protect marriage" crowd ever cared about consistency, fair practice, or historical perspective. The goal is to stop people like me (and possibly you) from securing a fair footing in this world. That's the endgame. The contrived journey to that end will, by definition, be filled with noise.

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