Thursday, September 3, 2009

Maine Chance

A referendum to repeal Maine’s same-sex marriage law has made it onto the November ballot.

Election officials announced Wednesday that gay marriage foes surpassed the threshold of signatures necessary to put the state law on the November ballot, setting the stage for a furious, two-month campaign that’ll determine whether the number of states allowing same-sex nuptials shrinks to five.

Maine’s gay marriage law was supposed to go into effect on Sept. 12, but it was put on hold while the secretary of state’s office verified the number of signatures. With the signatures validated, Gov. John Baldacci on Wednesday signed a formal proclamation putting the gay marriage law to a statewide vote Nov. 3.

“I fully support this legislation and believe it guarantees that all Maine citizens are treated equally under our state’s civil marriage laws,” Baldacci said. “But I also have a constitutional obligation to set the date for the election once the secretary of state has certified that enough signatures have been submitted.”

The anti-marriage-equality folks raised a stink when the Supreme Court of California held — correctly — that to deny two people the right to get married based on their gender was a violation of the equal protection clause of the state constitution. They railed against judicial “activism” and said that the only way for marriage equality to be enacted was through the legislative process; that is the true voice of the people. (It should be noted that the California State Assembly did pass a marriage equality bill on two separate occasions, only to have them vetoed by the governor.) For good measure they mustered enough homophobia and outside help from the Mormons to pass Prop 8 to amend the state constitution. So other states, such as Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, passed laws enacting marriage equality. Now the “family values” people are saying, at least in Maine, that the law should be repealed; the legislature in Augusta doesn’t truly represent the voice of the people because, apparently, they didn’t get their way.

There are two reasons that I hope the people of Maine vote down the repeal of the law. The first, obviously, is because marriage equality is the fulfillment of the promise of equal rights for all people. The second would be to say firmly to these ignorant and sniveling bigots that they are tired of their non-stop games of Calvinball and making up the rules as they go along.