I hear that you have joined the ranks of the enlightened in the Northeast, and got yourselves a great new gay marriage law, passed by the legislature! I'm sure you are especially proud of your governor John Baldacci, who said,
“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions. I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.”Way to go, Maine!
“Article I in the Maine Constitution states that ‘no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of that person’s civil rights or be discriminated against.’”
“This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs. It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of Church and State. It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine’s civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government."
Unfortunately, I hear that your law allows those opposed to collect signatures to put a referendum on the ballot in an attempt to overturn this. Oh, be very careful, Maine.
Because you will be assaulted in parking lots and shopping malls, as professional signature collectors harass you. At churches, signature-getters will chase congregants across the parking lot insisting they sign, even if they don't want to. They may tell you that you are signing something completely different, or that you are signing to SUPPORT gay marriage.
And if the referendum gets on the ballot, it's just beginning. Because out-of-state money, and out-of-state Hate, will pour into your state.
You will get angry advertisements that are full of lies and more lies, and if those don't work, there will be threats and vandalism.
And, Maine? Regardless of the outcome of the election, there will be anger and deep bitterness and injury that will not heal easily. And your civic, civil discourse will be deeply damaged for a long time to come. People will stop speaking to each other. Work relationships will degrade. Neighbors will shun one another. Long after the election, people will flip each other off on the freeway and wariness and anger will simmer for a long time.
Think hard, Maine. The legistlature did their job. So did the governor. Be proud, and decline to sign.
(Keep track at Equality Maine.)