November 5, 2009

Since Massachusetts legalized same sex marriage through a court order back in 2003, four of the other give New England states have followed suit. Two through court order and two through legislative action.  Only Rhode Island hasn't been heard from in this arena.

One of the two states to approve gay marriage through its legislature was Maine. But before the ink dried on the bill after it was signed by Governor John Baldacci calls from citizens for a statewide referendum were heard and petitions quickly signed, putting the law on hold.  Tuesday, the citizens of Maine rejected by six points an action that was considered a sure thing.  For now, at least, the domino effect of New England states falling into the gay-marriage agenda has stopped.

Cecelia Burnett and Ann Swanson had already set their wedding date. When they joined about 1,000 other gay marriage supporters for an election night party in a Holiday Inn ballroom, they hoped to celebrate the vote that would make it possible. Instead, they went home at midnight, dejected and near tears after their failed bid to make Maine the first state to approve same-sex marriage at the ballot box.

Burnett, a 58-year old massage therapist, walked out of the ballroom early Wednesday with Swanson at her side and said she was "ready to start crying. I don't understand what the fear is, why people are so afraid of this change."

The answer to that is that a majority of Maine's citizens do not want to redefine an institution which has always been in every culture and civilization throughout history as being between one man and one woman.

When all of the precincts finished tallying the vote, gay-marriage foes had 53 percent of the vote in a referendum that asked Maine voters whether they wanted to repeal the law allowing.  Frank Schubert, the chief organizer for Stand for Marriage Maine, said the institution of marriage has been preserved in the state and he believes it will stand in all the rest of the states across the nation.  Stand for Marriage Maine was the main ground which lobbied for the repealed.

For the gay rights movement, which has gained a foothold in New England, it was a stinging defeat. Gay marriage has now lost in every state _ 31 in all _ in which it has been put to a popular vote. Gay-rights activists had hoped to buck that trend in Maine, framing same-sex marriage as a matter of equality for all families in a campaign that used 8,000 volunteers to get out the message.

In addition to Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut have legalized same-sex marriage and the state supreme court in Iowa has forced its interpretation down the throats of its citizens, legalizing gay marriages.  All of these states have not given it citizens a vote on the matter.

Portland resident Sarah Holman said she was torn, but decided, despite her conservative upbringing, to vote in favor of letting gays marry.  Many non-gay voters who favored the bill say they thought or believed that if two people love each other and desire to live together in marriage that they should not be denied that right.

While the gay marriage opponents claimed victory, Jesse Connolly, campaign manager for No on 1/Protect Maine Equality, held off conceding until early Wednesday, when he issued a statement vowing to continue to press the issue. He told supporters that the fight for marriage equality will continue.

Connolly said that his followers were not "not short-timers." He said "We're here for the long haul and whether it's just all night and into the morning, or it's next week or next month or next year. We will be here. We'll be here fighting. We'll be working. We will regroup."

That's not what gay marriage opponent Chuck Schott wanted to hear. At age 71, and after other gay rights efforts in 1998, 2000 and 2005, Schott said he's getting tired of taking his fight to the polls. He told a CNN reporter early Wednesday that "before the final tally last night was even in, the No on 1 warned us that we'll have to fight the battle all over again - soon. I wish they'd take their battle to some other state, and give us a rest."

Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Malone, who urged his followers to reject same-sex marriage, said he was grateful to people, like Schott, who voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman "as it has been understood for millennia by civilizations and religions around the world."

Gay Right activists from Lambda Legal and the GLB&T organizations vowed to fight the referendum through the courts and also have set their eyes on Rhode Island and New York state.

We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.