Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Maine Marriage Equality

Maine became the second state to pass a law allowing same-sex marriage.

Gay-rights advocates moved remarkably close to their goal of making same-sex marriage legal throughout New England on Tuesday, when the Maine House of Representative voted to legalize such unions.

Supporters of same-sex marriage have won victory after victory this spring, with the legislatures of Vermont, New Hampshire and now Maine embracing it. The region is close to offering such marriages full support; Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to let gay couples marry in 2004, and Connecticut began allowing same-sex marriage last fall.

But in Maine and New Hampshire, the governors, both Democrats, will be pivotal in determining whether same-sex marriage proponents succeed in winning over an entire region of the country. Neither Gov. John Baldacci of Maine nor Gov. John Lynch of New Hampshire has made his intentions public. Both men opposed same-sex marriage in the past but have indicated they might be reconsidering.

As goes Maine, so goes the rest of the country? One can only hope.

In a related note, the City Council of the District of Columbia has voted to recognize same-sex unions performed in other states. This puts the matter on the plate of Congress, which under the Home Rule Charter, has 30 days to review the legislation.

The bill could present the House and Senate with their biggest test on the same-sex marriage issue since Congress approved the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

At least one GOP member said yesterday that he will try to block the bill from becoming law.

“Some things are worth fighting for, and this is one of them,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), the ranking Republican on a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that oversees the District. “It’s not something I can let go softly into the night. . . . I recognize the Democrats are in the majority, but I represent the majority of Americans on this issue.”

Um, not really, Mr. Chaffetz; you represent the majority of ignorant homophobes.

It also points out the arcane and undemocratic system of government we have in our nation’s capital. The D.C. City Council is held hostage by the Congress, who can, it seems, override anything they do. It’s like the student council in high school; they can talk all they want about changing the rules, but they really have no power.

But marriage equality is moving forward, and Congress has better things to do than act like feudal lords.