“When I grow up I’m going to find out everything about everybody and put it all in a book.”
Friday, November 6, 2009
Marriage equality takes a hit in Maine
I was hoping that I would wake up Wednesday morning, turn on the radio, and hear the wonderful news that Question 1 on yesterday’s ballot—the “People’s Veto” referendum to overturn the Maine legislature’s decision to make same-sex marriage legal in our state—had been soundly defeated.
The earliest poll results looked promising, with No On 1 leading, 55% to 45% when only five percent of the votes were in. But by the time I went to bed, 38 percent of the votes had been tallied, and the race was a virtual dead heat, with No On 1 leading by only about 250 votes, and I began to consider, for the very first time, the possibility that the referendum might pass.
I knew from the beginning that it would be close, but I honestly thought we Mainers would live up to our reputation as fair and decent human beings, not inclined to meddle too much in other people’s business.
I’m sorry to say I was wrong.
I never heard a single solid argument against retaining the law allowing same-sex couples to marry that wasn’t based on religious grounds, and I’m frustrated a) that people were apparently unable to separate the concept of religious marriage from that of civil marriage (you know, civil, as in “civil rights”), and b) that the religious argument would sway so many people in a state that ranks 6th from the bottom in regular church attendance.
Since most of the time I think I come across as kind of a shy, quiet, frumpy 50-year-old mom, some people are probably surprised when they discover that underneath the dowdy exterior beats the heart of a flaming liberal, at least when it come to social issues. (This is probably why I get approached by people like the “Yes On 1” people who tried to interest me in signing their petition at the dump one day last summer.)
I try to be respectful of people whose viewpoints are diametrically opposed to mine, which isn’t usually very difficult, since I’m a big believer in the avoidance of confrontation, and since I usually figure that in most cases, people are a product of their upbringing and it’s pretty hard to change after the age of ten or so.
But I’m having a hard time watching the news footage of the jubilant “Stand for Marriage Maine” people (“Praise God for the work He has done!”), as they celebrate the “preservation of marriage,” without entertaining thoughts of sucker-punches, or at least the judicious application of a Nerf bat to a few thick skulls.
Because the thing is, those folks on the “Vote Yes On 1” side woke up on Wednesday morning with all their rights intact and their lives virtually unchanged—whereas if Question 1 had been defeated, they would have woken up on Wednesday morning with…all their rights intact and their lives virtually unchanged.
When it gets right down to it, they just didn’t have that much at stake…certainly not enough to warrant the kind of effort they put forth to deny others their basic civil rights.
And even if your viewpoint on this issue is a result of your upbringing, or your religious views, or your homophobia, or whatever, I’m sorry, but it’s time to grow up and think for yourself.
I share a birthday with Dr. Seuss. I am exactly one week older than Barbie, and much more sensibly shaped. My “spiritual home” is a musty, dusty, ramshackle family camp on a lake. I have spent every single summer of my life there, starting when I was three months old. I am so lucky. I married my second husband one day shy of eight weeks from our first date. We have four kids—one his, two mine, one ours, all grown up (more or less). It took me 31 years to earn a BA. I cook from scratch. I have had the same best friend since the second day of second grade. I love Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Colbert, and Jason Varitek. I miss Paul Newman, Johnny Cash, and my mom.