Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gay marriage pushes ahead in New England

Alrighty, folks, we're back in business!

First point of order for the new year: a gay marriage bill moved into the Maine Legislature's agenda on Tuesday, with same-sex marriage activists looking to overturn the statute that already limits marriage to one man and one woman.

Meanwhile, civil unions are no longer enough in New Hampshire and Vermont, where activists are pushing to swap in the term "marriage."

AUGUSTA, Maine—The gay marriage issue moved onto the legislative agenda Tuesday as supporters of the idea said this is the time to recognize marriages between same-sex couples -- even if the debate comes amid major concerns in the State House over budget cutbacks and their impact.

Sen. Dennis Damon said he is introducing a bill to rewrite Maine's existing statute that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, instead defining it as a union between two people. In addition, it recognizes gay marriages from other states.
Damon, D-Trenton, answered critics who questioned the timing of the bill as lawmakers face a $838 million shortfall by saying it's "long overdue."

"Currently there is discrimination. Heterosexual couples who have decided to spend their lives together are treated differently than same-sex couples who have ... that same commitment to each other," Damon said. "I don't see the fairness of that. I don't see the need for that, and this bill will put an end to that."

Maine currently has a domestic partnership registry that's open to gay couples. But
that's not enough for gay marriage supporters. Damon says it's time to "fully end discrimination in Maine."

Gay marriage is being debated elsewhere in the region.

In New Hampshire, a bill's been submitted to replace the term "civil union" with "marriage" in the state's 1-year-old civil union law. Vermont, the first state to recognize same-sex couples with its civil unions law, is now likely to consider a gay marriage bill.

In Maine, Damon's gay marriage proposal faces a fight.

House Minority Leader John Tardy, R-Newport, is expected to propose bolstering the state's one man-one woman definition by putting it in the Constitution.

The Maine Family Policy Council also plans to oppose the gay marriage bill "with everything we've got," Executive Director Michael Heath said.

Heath said gay marriage supporters are making a mistake running their bill now, when so much else is at stake because of the recession and state budget problems.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland also will work aggressively against the bill, which goes to the heart of a fundamental issue for many, said Marc Mutty, diocesan public affairs director. Mutty believes the proposal will ultimately be sent to referendum.

Gov. John Baldacci issued a statement in which he acknowledged his past opposition to same-sex marriage, adding the debate "is extremely personal for many people, and it's an issue that I struggle with trying to find the best path forward.

"Right now, I'm focused on creating jobs and doing what I can to help our economy recover from an unprecedented recession. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided or turned against one another during this crisis," the governor said.

The gay marriage bill has won that support of leaders of more than a dozen faiths across the state, who formed the Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine.

Not to sound like a broken record, but what you term a homosexual union does, in fact, carry a lot of weight - and no, it is not discriminatory to differentiate, so long as the unions establish equal rights across the board for couples, gay or straight.

When you take an existing word and alter its definition, you create an Orwellian dilemma wherein a myriad of statutes, regulations and laws get changed without touching a single word. These alterations make no distinction between civil unions (which have all the same RIGHTS anyways) and traditional marriage, which, in turn, infringes upon religions' rights to adhere to Biblical beliefs that term homosexual behavior as sinful. (Note, it's the actions - not the people - that the Bible condemns. All have sinned and fallen short of God's glory - it's an important distinction to make, lest these ideas get written off as religious bigotry. God is a God of love and mercy as well as perfect justice!)

I respect the right of my gay friends to live their lives free of others' imposed religious beliefs. As one of devout faith, I also expect that same right. There are so many cases I could point out where gay-rights activists have sued churches or religious individuals for "discrimination" when they're merely adhering to Biblical tenets in actions or sermons - and not in a hateful way, I might add.

Opening up the definition of marriage by not defining it as one man and one woman is practically codifying approval for a flurry of discrimination lawsuits against the defenders of traditional marriage, whether they be religions, foundations or individuals. I am so, so glad to live in a state that offers civil unions with all the same rights as marriage. However, pushing to change the name pushes for much more than equality.

If you don't define marriage as between one man and one woman, which it's been for all of human history, then where do you draw the line?


the pomegranate apple said...

thanks christa!

Euripides said...

Thanks for your analysis.

Secular Heretic said...

If you don't define marriage as between one man and one woman, which it's been for all of human history, then where do you draw the line?

This is a question I would like answered too.
If we can stretch the meaning of marriage to include same sex couples why not brother and sister couples or father son couples, or even a man and his dog couple.