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News Gay Marriages approved in Maine.

  1. May 7, 2009 #1

    turbo

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    If you watched the national news last night, you know that a bill allowing gay marriage passed the house and senate, and was signed into law by Maine's Catholic governor. Proponents made arguments that convinced the elected officials, that civil marriages (not just civil "unions") recognized by the state were necessary to provide gay couples with basic rights, like the right of co-ownership, passing property without probate, hospital visitations, shared insurances, etc. Opponents of the measure generally resorted to calling the measure "immoral", "against god's will", and "threatening the sanctity of REAL marriage". We can expect a petition drive to fire up immediately to put a "people's veto" on the ballot next spring. With nothing else pressing on the ballot, the Christian Right thinks that they can motivate their constituents to go to the polls to undo the will of the people's elected representatives. Look for a messy fight on this one.

    http://knox.villagesoup.com/Government/story.cfm?storyID=157665
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2009 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Are you arguing that direct democracy is somehow undemocratic?
     
  4. May 7, 2009 #3

    LowlyPion

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    Susan Collins was on yesterday talking about this. She indicated that there would undoubtedly be an election issue over it. Think they will do it by November this year? I think her term is up in 2010, and it could be on the same ballot as she will be next year.

    (You'd think people would have better things to do in this economy than deny gays what they would enjoy.)
     
  5. May 7, 2009 #4

    turbo

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    No, I'm not. The separation of church and state will be blurred, though as Michael Heath rallies Christians to overturn a long-overdue law based only on their religious beliefs and force the minority (let's face it - gays are a distinct minority) to give up their hard-won rights to satisfy the religious convictions of the Christian Right. In an election with few important items on the warrant, it might be tough to get a good turnout among average citizens, but Heath's army will be out in droves.
     
  6. May 7, 2009 #5

    turbo

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    Heath is shooting for the June ballot, so as not to have any important races or ballot initiatives to increase poll-attendance, apart from his get-out-the-churches effort. He's no dummy. If the anti-gay marriage initiative was on a fall ballot with a Senatorial race up for grabs, his "peoples veto" would likely fail. Susan Collins was up for election last time around. The next senatorial seat up for grabs is Olympia Snowe's.
     
  7. May 7, 2009 #6
    The politicians who voted in favor are not unaware of their constituency. I doubt they would stick their necks out for any issue at the peril of their jobs, let alone this one. So if there is to be a petition, then they probably feel like saying "bring it on." If there is a movement to have the law repealed by petition and this constituency votes against it (and thus in favor of gay marriage) then I expect it will have a huge impact throughout the country.
     
  8. May 7, 2009 #7

    turbo

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    You may be right, jimmy, and I hope you are. The vote margins in the House and the Senate were quite impressive, demonstrating that the legislators had confidence in the socially liberal core in their constituencies. It will be a matter of which side can motivate the majority of the voters in that spring election. If nothing else, the fundamentalists are great at getting out the vote.
     
  9. May 7, 2009 #8
    This rate of progress just this last month or so has just been breathtaking. Just since March 23 we've seen:

    - Same sex marriage now legal in Connecticut
    - Japan recognizes same sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions
    - Same sex marriage now legal in Sweden
    - Same sex marriage now legal in Iowa
    - Vermont legalizes same sex marriage, starting September
    - Maine legalizes same sex marriage, starting September
    - Washington DC recognizes same sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions
    - Washington passes full Domestic Partnerships [yet to be signed by governor]
    - New Hampshire legalizes same sex marriage [yet to be signed by governor]

    And of course the Maine is a huge deal because it was the first time a state legalized same sex marriage solely through the legislative process [Vermont was helped along by a court decision mandating civil unions], and the first time a governor signed a same sex marriage bill.

    Meanwhile Illinois is considering a civil union bill, New Jersey is likely to pass a marriage bill soon and possibly (?) New York, and the California supreme court has to rule whether Proposition 8 passed legally before June 3...

    Congress unfortunately doesn't look likely to take up DOMA (the law that currently bans the Federal government from recognizing state same-sex marriages) until next year, but by the time they do we could have nine states waiting for their marriages to be recognized...
     
  10. May 7, 2009 #9

    turbo

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    Not only that, but if Gov. Baldacci had vetoed the bill, it was entirely likely that the legislature would pull together and pass it over his veto. This is a pretty big deal, and a long time coming. My wife and I have long-time friends (and a number of relatives) who are gay and who are wonderful decent people. Maine is fiscally conservative, with some pretty tough old coots in prominent positions in local governments, but they generally are socially "live and let" live types.
     
  11. May 7, 2009 #10

    russ_watters

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    Do you think people would have better things to do in this economy than pursue an issue of marriage definition? You have the shoe on the wrong foot: republicans are not pushing a denial, democrats are pushing an allowance. It is the democrats who are putting forth the effort and making this an issue because the issue is about changing the status quo in a way the democrats want. Californians, for example, were shocked when prop 8 passed because the opponents of it were the ones driving the issue and making all the noise.

    It reminds me a lot of Clinton's first 100 days in office, when one of the most important issues he faced (to him) was the issue of gays in the military. It was important enough to him to make it an issue in his campaign and address it quickly after entering office - despite the fact that we were in recession when he took office.
     
  12. May 7, 2009 #11

    LowlyPion

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    Yeah, but the Maine Governor signed it into law already.

    The effort now must be mounted by the Christian Conservatives if they want to undo it.
     
  13. May 7, 2009 #12
    Let's say someone is in a situation where they or their partner or both could lose their jobs, and then not be able to get the COBRA coverage that someone in an opposite-sex relationship would-- because COBRA rules mandate spouses be covered, but say nothing if the spouse is same-sex.

    Or, say, in a position to need to find a new job, and know we have to do so in an environment where there is no federal protection against employment discrimination for LGBTs, as there would be for other groups...

    For someone who is or could be in these or any of a number of other situations, then no, really there isn't anything more urgent than this or any time more appropriate than this. Recessions test society's edge cases, and for LGBTs right now there are a lot of edge cases-- with laws regarding gay people still a state-by-state patchwork, and gay relationships locked into federally-unrecognized "marriages" or "civil unions" where it's a case-by-case mystery whether you get access to any particular benefit that a normally married couple would. There are many LGBTs for whom the progress of gay equality laws directly effects whether and in what state they will make it through the recession.

    Why anti-marriage conservatives would be so invested in these issues at this particular time, on the other hand, is a bit more of a mystery to me...
     
  14. May 7, 2009 #13

    mgb_phys

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    But I bet if you are living with somebody same-sex their income IS taken into account when assessing benefits.
     
  15. May 8, 2009 #14

    turbo

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    Update: Yesterday, two right-wing religious groups filed for petitioner status, so that they can gather signatures to mount a peoples' referendum to repeal the same-sex marriage law. At least one of the groups has stated that they intend to get the referendum on this November's ballot because there are a couple of initiatives on the fall ballot backed by the GOP, including a Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, and a proposed repeal of excise taxes for vehicles. Presumably a high GOP turnout will help their chances of killing the new law. If the required number of signatures is obtained, implementation of the same-sex marriage law would be delayed until the referendum question can be voted on, leading to speculation that the signatures cold be turned in late in order to drag out the delay in implementation until after the 2010 mid-term elections. We'll see where it goes.
     
  16. May 12, 2009 #15
  17. May 12, 2009 #16

    turbo

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    One cannot discount the power of the right-wing religious groups in such a situation. They have tax-free status and own properties that generate income for them (also free of taxation) while actively advocating for or against political initiatives, so they have access to the faithful and access to funds. I would like to see churches lose their tax-exempt status if they continue to do this type of political advocacy. There are Unitarian and Anglican (and some Congregationalist) congregations in the region that welcome gay parishioners and even ordain them to lead congregations, and they are not only inclusive, but do good things for the people in the region. In this state, there is an "alliance" between the Roman Catholic Church (still paying off generations of men who were sexually abused by ordained pedophiles) and Evangelical Christian denominations who are gearing up to prevent same-sex marriage.

    As an aside, there is a congregation in a very wealthy community to the south of here that accepts donations of clothing, toys, appliances, etc, and offers them for resale at a thrift store in this very poor community that can use the low-cost goods. They have such a volume of goods that every few weeks they offer a $2 day, when the locals can drop in and fill a large plastic garbage bag full of clothing (and some other goods) and only pay $2 for the whole bag-ful. My sister-in law volunteers there, and my wife would too, if she were not already working full-time and caring for her elderly (senile dementia-afflicted) mother for 24 hours every weekend. The people running the thrift shop are nice - they can raise a bit of money for their church while helping the people in our poorer community afford some decent-looking clothes, jackets, etc. One of the main organizers of the shop is a gay woman, so although I won't mention any denomination here, you can be pretty sure the church isn't patronized by fundamentalist loons.
     
  18. May 14, 2009 #17
    More updates? http://www.mydd.com/story/2009/5/14/143628/092 [Broken], under an agreement with the legislature where the legislature will first amend the bill to add additional language guaranteeing the rights of religious institutions to not participate in marriages they disagree with. (This language is described as analagous to the religious protection language already present in other states' same-sex marriage laws, and if so is probably harmless or redundant since it would basically just make explicit a right churches had under the 1st and 5th amendments anyway.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  19. May 14, 2009 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    That gets back to what I see as the hypocrisy in the argument that we need to "preserve the sanctity of marriage". The only sanctity exists in the eyes of churches that already have the right to refuse gay marriages through the protection of religious freedom. There has never been any "sanctity" in a marriage performed by a justice of the peace. A civil marriage is merely a legal agreement. Conversely, through the same protection of religious freedom, it seems to me that churches have the right to recognize gay marriages if they choose or are "spiritually compelled" to do so.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2009
  20. May 14, 2009 #19

    LowlyPion

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    It won't take many more states before gay marriages will be a de facto reality everywhere. With so many valid points of licensure, the patchwork will be a sieve. Legal marriages between gays will be a fact everywhere. (People married in jurisdictions that permit it will suddenly become not married if they travel through or re-settle in a state that doesn't permit it?)

    Basically I think the fundamentalists have lost their fight as regards to imposing themselves on and in other people's business on the subject of marriage. I think it's evolving down to a denominational issue, which I think it should be.
     
  21. May 14, 2009 #20
    Ivan: Absolutely right.

    LowlyPion:

    Legally the important thing here is the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which in part says no state is obligated to in any way recognize a same-sex marriage issued by any other state. As long as this law stands, someone who gets a same-sex marriage in one state and then travels to another might not be legally married for purposes of interactions with that state. ("Might" because this varies from state to state-- for example New York and Washington DC, despite not granting same sex marriages, do honor same sex marriages granted elsewhere. Tennessee doesn't.)

    Barack Obama has pushed for a full repeal of the DOMA, and Congressional leaders have indicated they may consider a DOMA repeal as early as next year. It is unclear whether, when this is attempted, they will in fact repeal the entire DOMA or just part of it. It is further unclear what would happen re: marriage recognition by other states if a full DOMA repeal occurred. One would normally expect that due to the constitution's "full faith and credit clause", in the absence of DOMA a state would be required to honor a marriage performed by another state. However the courts have interpreted a "public policy" exception to the full faith and credit clause, and in the past that exception has allowed states to decline to recognize marriages granted elsewhere. However "in the past" means "in the Jim Crow era", so it's unclear whether the courts would stick to that precedent today! The situation is very messy.
     
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