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Dirigo and Marriage Equality

Update: Photos of Tuesday’s announcement at the Statehouse in Augusta here.

Dirigo is Maine’s state motto- it means literally, “I lead.”

It goes back to earlier days, when Maine was the only state in the nation to vote in September. The entire country paid attention to the results and trends of our elections; in fact Republicans used to say, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation!”

We also have a saying here as well as signs  greeting visitors driving up I-95 that read: “Maine- The Way Life Should Be”.

Yet, currently that is not the case.

THIS- is how Maine SHOULD BE.

Let’s hope that soon Maine will live up to this slogan and that “Dirigo” is once again the case.

More below the fold…As I said last night to Lurleen, this has been difficult to write- most of my diaries and comments tend to be nonsensical in nature and having married elsewhere, I didn’t even know how a couple goes about getting married in Maine. Let alone who “could or couldn’t”- for instance, cousins CAN legally marry here. HUH.

But now that Maine is taking the first steps towards full and equal marriage rights (check out the astounding 500+ comments!), in a very REAL AND LEGALLY BINDING SENSE, it’s time to set the foolishness aside (temporarily) and WORK.

This editorial from yesterday’s Bangor Daily News is excellent:

A Marriage Proposal

The announcement Tuesday of two legislative bills that seem radically opposed perfectly highlights the path toward protecting marriage and ending discrimination against gay and lesbian couples. The solution, which a bill to allow gays to marry moves toward, is to separate the civil benefits of such unions from their religious aspects.

Aside from age of consent and preventing incest, the state has no interest in who marries whom. Neither does it matter to the state whether a wedding takes place at City Hall or in a cathedral.

Marriage, from a civil rights perspective, confers benefits to its participants – lower tax rates, health insurance benefits, visitation rights at hospitals, among others. These benefits strengthen communities by encouraging and supporting long-term relationships. Denying these rights and benefits to one group because of their sexual orientation is wrong and weakens communities.

That is why Sen. Dennis Damon has sponsored legislation to allow gays to marry. “It is important to end discrimination wherever it exists,” the Trenton Democrat said Tuesday.

The same day, House Minority Leader Josh Tardy said he planned to put forward a constitutional amendment to restrict marriage to the union of one man and one woman.

The two measures show the importance of the word marriage. Both the coalition supporting gay marriage and groups opposed to it talk of the special status of marriage. “Marriage confers a dignity and respect to a couple that a civil union does not,” the Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition says in its talking points. A couple joined in matrimony by notary public at City Hall has the same respect as a couple who held their wedding at a church. But only the civil ceremony performed by a notary public was necessary to confer the tax and legal benefits of marriage. Such a ceremony can, and should, be available to all. Consigning gay couples to civil unions does not meet this goal.

At the same time, traditional marriage through churches also deserves respect. These churches have matters of deep faith to consider before offering the rites of marriage to any couple, and a church could fairly decide that certain couples don’t adhere to its beliefs.

Separating these two functions – the state sanctioning a union wherever it takes place and a religion blessing a union because it meets its requirements – allows a way forward, while protecting marriage.

Sen. Damon’s bill moves in that direction. A draft shows that it is carefully crafted to remove prohibitions in current law that prevent gays and lesbians from being married while affirming the rights of religious institutions to control who may or may not marry within their faiths.

As this debate begins, there’s time to recognize that there are honest differences of opinion both about who should be allowed to marry and whether a constitutional amendment is required to protect this distinction. But, while we recognize that ideas about marriage are deeply held and cherished, preventing gays from creating formal and legal ties is needlessly exclusionary.

Here is a draft of Senator Damon’s rough proposal, via “Turn Maine Blue”.

So what are the chances of this passing through the legislature and ending up on Governor Baldacci’s desk for his signature? Sight unseen, I’d say pretty good.

Maine voted. Equality won.

EqualityMaine is proud to announce the re-election of all 15 pro-equality incumbents in the State Senate who were eligible for another term. Eight new pro-equality candidates were elected to join them, bringing the pro-equality majority in the State Senate to a total of 23.

Pro-equality Senators-elect, by district

SD 1 – Peter Bowman (D-York)

SD 4 – Nancy Sullivan (D-York)

SD 5 – Barry Hobbins (D-York)

SD 6 – Phil Bartlett (D-Cumberland)

SD 7 – Larry Bliss (D-Cumberland)

SD 8 – Justin Alfond (D-Cumberland)

SD 9 – Joseph Brannigan (D-Cumberland)

SD 10 – Stan Gerzofsky (D-Cumberland)

SD 12 – Bill Diamond (D-Cumberland)

SD 14 – Bruce Bryant (D-Oxford)

SD 15 – Deborah Simpson (D-Androscoggin)

SD 16 – Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin)

SD 17 – John Nutting (D-Androscoggin)

SD 19 – Seth Goodall (D-Sagadahoc)

SD 21 – Earle McCormick (R-Kennebec)

SD 22 – Chris Rector (R-Knox)

SD 24 – Libby Mitchell (D-Kennebec)

SD 25 – Lisa Marrache (D-Kennebec)

SD 26 – Peter Mills (R-Somerset)

SD 28 – Dennis Damon (D-Hancock)

SD 30 – Elizabeth Schneider (D-Penobscot)

SD 32 – Joseph Perry (D-Penobscot)

SD 35 – Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook)

In the State House of Representatives, EqualityMaine is proud to announce the re-election of 58 pro-equality incumbents who were eligible for another term. Twenty-four new pro-equality candidates were elected to join them, which means we hold a pro-equality majority of 82 in the House.

Pro-equality Representatives-elect, by district

HD 2 – Ken Theriault (D-Madawaska)

HD 7 – Patricia Sutherland (D-Chapman)

HD 13 – Robert Duchesne (D-Hudson)

HD 14 – Richard Blanchard (D-Old Town)

HD 15 – Adam Goode (D-Bangor)

HD 16 – Steven Butterfield (D-Bangor)

HD 17 – Sara Stevens (D-Bangor)

HD 18 – James Martin (D-Orono)

HD 19 – Emily Cain (D-Orono)

HD 20 – Benjamin Pratt (D-Eddington)

HD 23 – David Richardson (R-Carmel)

HD 31 – Anne Perry (D-Calais)

HD 34 – Robert Eaton (D-Sullivan)

HD 35 – Elsie Flemings (D-Bar Harbor)

HD 36 – Hannah Pingree (D-North Haven)

HD 37 – James Schatz (D-Blue Hill)

HD 40 – Kim Rosen (R-Bucksport)

HD 41 – Veronica Magnan (D-Stockton Springs)

HD 44 – Andrew O’Brien (D-Lincolnville)

HD 45 – John Piotti (D-Unity)

HD 46 – Joan Welsh (D-Rockport)

HD 47 – Edward Mazurek (D-Rockland)

HD 48 – Charles Kruger (D-Thomaston)

HD 50 – Wendy Pieh (D-Bremen)

HD 52 – Elizabeth Miller (D-Somerville)

HD 56 – Anna Blodgett (D-Augusta)

HD 57 – Patsy Crockett (D-Augusta)

HD 61 – Bruce MacDonald (D-Boothbay)

HD 62 – Thomas Watson (D-Bath)

HD 63 – Charles Priest (D-Brunswick)

HD 64 – Leila Percy (D-Phippsburg)

HD 65 – Peter Kent (D-Woolwich)

HD 66 – Alexander Cornell du Houx (D-Brunswick)

HD 67 – Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham)

HD 68 – Michael Beaulieu (R-Auburn)

HD 72 – Mike Carey (D-Lewiston)

HD 73 – Richard Wagner (D-Lewiston)

HD 74 – Margaret Rotundo (D-Lewiston)

HD 76 – Henry Beck (D-Waterville)

HD 77 – Pamela Trinward (D-Waterville)

HD 79 – Sharon Treat (D-Hallowell)

HD 80 – Nancy Smith (D-Monmouth)

HD 82 – Patrick Flood (R-Winthrop)

HD 83 – Pat Jones (D-Mount Vernon)

HD 84 – Edward Finch (D-Fairfield)

HD 85 – Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan)

HD 87 – Paul Gilbert (D-Jay)

HD 89 – Janet Mills (D-Farmington)

HD 90 – Thomas Saviello (U-Wilton)

HD 93 – Sheryl Briggs (D-Mexico)

HD 96 – Larry Sirois (D-Turner)

HD 103 – John Robinson (R-Raymond)

HD 106 – David Webster (D-Freeport)

HD 107 – Melissa Innes (D-Yarmouth)

HD 110 – Mark Bryant (D-Windham)

HD 113 – Joan Cohen (D-Portland)

HD 114 – Peter Stuckey (D-Portland)

HD 115 – Stephen Lovejoy (D-Portland)

HD 116 – Charles Harlow (D-Portland)

HD 117 – Anne Haskell (D-Portland)

HD 118 – Jon Hinck (D-Portland)

HD 119 – Herb Adams (D-Portland)

HD 120 – Diane Russell-Natera (D-Portland)

HD 121 – Cynthia Dill (D-Cape Elizabeth)

HD 122 – Terry Morrison (D-South Portland)

HD 123 – Jane Eberle (D-South Portland)

HD 124 – Bryan Kaenrath (D-South Portland)

HD 125 – Ann Peoples (D-Westbrook)

HD 126 – Timothy Driscoll (D-Westbrook)

HD 127 – Sean Flaherty (D-Scarborough)

HD 128 – Peggy Pendleton (D-Scarborough)

HD 130 – Linda Sanborn (D-Gorham)

HD 132 – George Hogan (D-Old Orchard Beach)

HD 133 – Donald Pilon (D-Saco)

HD 134 – Linda Valentino (D-Saco)

HD 135 – Paulette Beaudoin (D-Biddeford)

HD 137 – Alan Casavant (D-Biddeford)

HD 138 – James Campbell (R-Newfield)

HD 140 – Gary Connor (D-Kennebunk)

HD 142 – Andrea Boland (D-Sanford)

HD 149 – Dawn Hill (D-York)

HD 151 – Walter Wheeler (D-Kittery)

One of the folks on this list is a very dear friend of mine- one of those “I would call or accept a call from her at 2am” kind of friends. She’s been gently dragging me, kicking and screaming, out of my comfort level at home and out into my community, helping out when I can. Now- it’s payback! ūüėČ