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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Maine

2012-SEP & OCT: Author's personal comments.
Freedom of speech. Fear-based ads on TV.

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In this section, "SSM" refers to "same-sex marriage, and
"LGBT" refers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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A personal comment by the webmaster: Bias alert; personal opinions expressed.

Back on election day of 2009-NOV, there were a total of seven referenda on the Maine ballot: Four were tax items. Question 1 dealt with repealing a state law and thereby terminating a fundamental human right -- preventing loving committed same-sex couples from marrying.

It makes sense to me that the four tax items should be decided by the popular vote. If the measure gets over 50% of the vote, it passes; less than this, it fails. In Maine, three failed and one passed that time.

Same-sex marriage has also been traditionally decided on a simple majority basis, whether it is:

  • A vote by members of a state Supreme Court, as in Massachusetts, or

  • A vote by members of a U.S. state legislature, or the Canadian federal government, or

  • A vote by the public as in Maine.

But should the sole criteria be 50% of the vote when it comes to extending or denying a fundamental human right -- the right to marry, or access to affordable health care, or the right to a trial by jury, or freedom of speech? Shouldn't the basic assumption be that everyone is to enjoy equal fundamental human rights as the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires? Should it not take a much higher criteria to deny a group of people equal rights -- say 80% of the vote?

Citizens should be concerned about the loss of their own rights due to the referendum process. Everybody is the member of at least one minority: I personally am a male, in my mid 70's, retired, former electrical engineer, left handed, a webmaster, an Agnostic, and a model train enthusiast. I am probably a member of dozens more minorities that I have not thought of. All it would take is some group with good PR support to whip up a campaign to deny human rights for a particular minority, and I automatically become a second-class citizen. That just doesn't seem right. It is commonly called "the tyranny of the majority, and was a cause of much concern to the founders of America"

Another factor that confuses me is why this process to deny people equal rights does not seem to be a widespread topic of discussion.

I recall that in In 1967, about 72% of American adults were opposed to interracial marriage and almost half felt that marrying a person of another race should be prosecuted as a criminal act. In the same year, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage everywhere in the U.S. Now, some four decades later, marrying a person of another race is an unremarkable event, except perhaps in states in the deep South like Mississippi where over 40% of the adults would like to reactivate the anti-miscegenation laws that once banned interracial marriage. I have a hunch that the same thing will happen with same-sex marriage, except that it will not take four decades.

As of mid-2011, national polls show that the current level of support among adults for same-sex marriage is about 53%; opposition is about 45%. With levels like this, any voter initiative like Proposition 1 should be a shoo-in within any liberal state, unless organizations that oppose SSM invest many millions of dollars in fear-based TV ads in an attempt to sway public opinion.

2012-SEP-06: Strange message from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM):

Brian S. Brown is the President of NOM. At the time of the Democratic National Convention he issued a letter commenting on the four plebiscites concerning same-sex marriage that will take place on election day, 2012-NOV-06. They are in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington state. But for some reason he refused even to mention the name of one of these four states: Maine. He wrote:

"The fights these days grow intense. Absurd campaign finance laws prevent me from going into detail with you about the national fight for marriage now taking place deep in blue states, but in November the people of Washington, Minnesota, Maryland—and that one other blue state I can't mention legally—will decide the future of marriage in decisions that will reverberate to the Supreme Court." 1

We are at a loss to understand why he won't mention Maine. With the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, how could the mere description of political and religious trends in one state be forbidden? We have written NOM for clarification, but don't expect a reply. Over a month has now passed, and we were not surprised by either an acknowledgment of our email or an answer to it.

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2012-OCT-09: Fear-based anti-SSM TV ads begin:

Although TV ads promoting equal marriage have been running since the Olympics in 2012-JUL/AUG, anti-marriage TV ads only started appearing during the week of OCT-07, as sponsored by Protect Marriage Maine. As expected, they are fear based ads trying to frighten the public about what might happen if all loving, committed couples were treated equally. This ad says that if SSM becomes available in Maine, that anyone in favor of restricting marriage to a union of one man and one woman is at risk of being fired from their job, sued, fined, or punished. The video shows Donald Mendell, a Licensed Social Worker and a school counselor in Palmyra, ME:

  2

Back in 2009 when a citizen initiative repealed the SSM law in Washington State, Mendell was featured in a video called "Safe Schools." He had said: "Vote yes on Question 1 to prevent homosexual marriage from being pushed on Maine students." 3 This resulted in "Ann" initiating a complaint to the State of Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. The complaint was based on the NASW (National Association of Social Workers) Ethical Principles that are binding on all social workers licensed  by the Association. 4

It appears that the TV ad is not accurate in its assertion that "anyone" who is opposed to SSM is at risk of being fired, sued, fined or punished. However, if a person is a licensed social worker and is perceived as actively violating the ethical principles of the NASW, then they make it possible for others to issue a complaint against them. This happened to Mendell during 2009-OCT.

The Associated Press states:

"... Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, said Sunday [OCT-07] that the issues raised in the Protect Marriage Maine ads have nothing to do with allowing same-sex couples to marry.

"Allowing same-sex couples to marry won't change people's freedom to speak out and say what they believe," he said. "Question 1 is about allowing our friends, co-workers and neighbors to have the freedom to marry the person they love." 5

That statement is also inaccurate. Licensed social workers, and probably members of some other professional associations, are restricted in what they say publicly if it involves the promotion of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, skin color, religion, disability, etc.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Brian S. Brown, "A letter from the president," National Organization for Marriage, 2012-SEP-06, at: http://www.nomblog.com/
  2. "Protect Marriage Maine TV Ad - Don Mendell," Protect Marriage Maine, at: http://protectmarriagemaine.com/
  3. "Donald Mendell returns in ad opposing gay marriage in Maine," On Top magazine, 2012-OCT-09, at: http://www.ontopmag.com/
  4. "Ann," "Professional licensing complaint...," As Maine Goes, 2009-OCT-19, at: http://www.asmainegoes.com/
  5. David Sharp, "Gay marriage opponents launch two new ads," Associated Press, 2012-OCT-09, at: http://www.pressherald.com/

Copyright © 2011 & 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2011-JUL-04
Latest update: 2012-NOV-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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