Vermont was the first state to outlaw slavery. Neighboring New Hampshire declared its independence from England before any other colony. Maine led the way with Prohibition.
These days, Yankee activism has another cause – gay rights.
Two states in New England already allow same-sex marriage, and lawmakers in three more are considering it, although passage is far from certain.
To some, the push is emblematic of a live-and-let-live ethic and burnished by gradual acceptance of gay relationships after Vermont’s groundbreaking civil unions law took effect in 2000. Others see it as a targeted effort by a vocal minority that has turned to the Northeast because its message can’t get traction elsewhere.
Only Massachusetts and Connecticut permit same-sex marriage. California, which briefly allowed it before a voter initiative in November repealed it, allows domestic partnerships, as do a handful of other states.
New Jersey and New Hampshire also offer civil unions, which provide many of the same rights that come with marriage. New York recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, and legislators there and in New Jersey are weighing whether to offer marriage. The Iowa Supreme Court has heard arguments on a marriage equality suit.
But for now, the focus on legal recognition of gay relationships has returned to northern New England.
More below…The breakdown:
The voices – on both sides – are growing louder:
• New Hampshire, which enacted a civil unions law last year, moved a step closer to legalizing gay marriage Thursday when the state House of Representatives voted in favor. The state Senate still must vote, though, and the governor – who signed a civil unions bill last year – opposes it.
• The Vermont Senate has approved a similar measure, but the House has yet to vote. Gov. Jim Douglas vowed Wednesday to veto the bill if it reaches him, spurring a protest that drew about 300 people to the Statehouse on Friday. Protesters say they’ll push to get enough votes in the Legislature for a veto override.
• In Maine, a bill to legalize gay marriage has nearly 60 co-sponsors in the Legislature. Gov. John Baldacci, who opposes gay marriage, says he hasn’t taken a position on the measure.
I disagree with that last and strongly doubt Baldacci would ever pull a “Jim Douglass”. That just does not hit me as the sort of person he is, at all.
And the bill did not have “near 60”; it had 64 sponsors. But I digress…
So what saith the opposition? Let’s take a peek:
Opponents contend that the measures don’t have popular support, saying that gay rights measures are nearly always defeated at the polls. Amendments to ban gay marriage were approved in November in Arizona and Florida. Now, 30 states have gay marriage bans in their constitutions.
Michael Heath, executive director of the Maine Family Policy Council, which opposes same-sex marriage, said lawmakers out of touch with real people are the ones pushing same-sex marriage.
“I think it’s because the politicians up here have become more left-leaning. I have experienced a significant disconnect between the public in Maine and the politicians on the issue of gay rights,” Heath said.
No, Mikey, you have simply experienced a DISCONNECT. Period.
And looky who else is weighing in- AGAIN. Why, it’s Mike’s newest bff, Maggie Gallagher!
“There is not an easy way to get the issue on the ballot and before the voters so that it can be decided directly by the people,” said Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage and is underwriting a radio campaign against it.
“Therefore, it is more a creature of special interest politics and legislative dealmaking. These are small states which can be influenced by fairly large amounts of outside money coming in. And it’s very hard for regular people to feel that they can have a voice on this issue in these states.”
You mean like YOUR gang out of Princeton, New Jersey, Maggie?
Believe me- New Englanders are FULLY capable of making up our own minds without the interference of outsiders like YOU. Inviting you and Tony Perkins in was a HUGE error for
CCL, er, Maine Family Policy Council.
Mike Heath’s gonna end up singing,“Oh Maggie, I wish I’d never seen your face… you made a first class fool outta me… but I’m was blind as a fool can be…”
Second verse, same as the first!!