Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Maine
2012-NOV: Governor signs off on referendum vote.
Marriage licenses may be available on DEC-29
In this section, "SSM" refers to "same-sex marriage, and
"LGBT" refers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
This topic is a continuation from the previous essay
2012-NOV-29: Governor signs off on election results. Marriage licenses to become available:
The election results were certified by the Office of the Secretary of State. Governor Paul LePage (R) then signed off on the results on NOV-29. The referendum becomes effective 30 days later, on 2012-DEC-29. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) reported:
" ' The long wait for marriage for same-sex couples in Maine is almost over,' says Betsy Smith, the executive director of EqualityMaine. 'Before the end of this year, all loving and committed couples in Maine will be able to stand before their friends, family and community and make a lasting vow to be there for one another'."
"On Nov. 6, Maine became the first state to allow loving, committed same-sex couples to receive a marriage license through a popular vote of the people. ..."
" ' There is much to celebrate as we move closer to marriage for same-sex couples in Maine,' says Lee Swislow, the executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. 'We will continue to work closely with state officials and with couples who want to get married to answer as many questions as we can about Maine’s new law'."
"Maine Question 1, An Act To Allow Marriage Licenses For Same-Sex Couples And Protect Religious Freedom, was approved by the voters 53 to 47 percent."
• Repeals the provision that limits marriage to one man and one woman;
• Authorizes marriage between any two persons who meet the other marriage requirements of state law;
• Specifies that a marriage between two persons of the same-sex in another state that is valid in that state is valid and must be recognized in Maine; and
• Provides that a member of the clergy is not required to perform and a religious institution is not required to host or perform a marriage in violation of [their] religious beliefs, and that refusal cannot be the basis for a lawsuit or legal liability, and will not affect the tax-exempt status of the religious institution." 1
Thus Question 1 ends up being a mostly win-win situation:
- Same-sex and opposite-sex couples will be able to marry, restricted only by the usual age and consanguinity limitations of the marriage act. They will receive state marital benefits and protections for themselves and their children, just as opposite-sex married couples do. Same-sex couples will not initially receive any federal benefits or protections because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). However, this law has been declared unconstitutional by many federal courts and is expected to be terminated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.
- Conservative clergy who wish to exercise their religious freedom to discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to marry then can do so with impunity. They cannot be subjected to lawsuits. They are given immunity by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and by the Maine marriage laws.
- In a truly major victory for religious freedom, liberal clergy are free to marry all of the loving committed couples in their congregations, for the first time.
- The only group to have lost anything as a result of Question 1 are those who want to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying and prevent such couples and their children from receiving equal benefits and protections.
Webmaster's opinion: (Bias alert):
State Rep. Johnson's beliefs are probably based on his denomination's theological position on marriage. If so, then by all means, his church should be free to act on their religious freedom to discriminate against sexual minorities by choosing to refuse to marry loving, committed same-sex couples. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees faith groups this right, if they want to implement such discrimination, and the new Maine marriage law confirms it.
However, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) not withstanding, it is the state government that is authorized by the U.S. Constitution to define who can and who cannot marry. Various states and territories throughout North American history have, at different times and locations:
- Allowed and later banned polygynous marriages.
- Restricted marriages to non-Blacks only.
- Prohibited and later allowed interracial marriages.
- Prohibited and later allowed marriages by deaf couples.
- Allowed or prohibited common law marriages.
- Allowed or prohibited marriage by first cousins.
It is the state government that issues marriage certificates to couples, registers their marriage, and offers benefits and protections to married couples and their children.
A person might feel that their personal interpretation of the Bible represents truth. A faith group may feel the same way, and regulate their practices accordingly by discriminating against same-sex couples. However, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court as erecting a wall of separation of between religion and government. This is often referred to as the "separation of church and state." Thus the state government cannot codify the teaching of one specific faith group into a marriage law. To do so would be to infringe on the religious freedom and liberty of other faith groups that hold different beliefs about marriage eligibility.
On the other hand, if the government defines marriage as the consensual union of two persons of suitable age, then conservative faith groups of every religion are free to refuse to marry same-sex couples, while liberal faith groups of every religion can marry same-sex couples if they wish. Same-sex couples can then choose to be married by a clergymember in a liberal faith group or in a civil ceremony. Passage of Question 1 assures that every Mainer's civil rights and religious freedoms -- and those of all faith groups in the state -- are respected. We suspect that in time, everyone will understand that religious liberty calls for the availability of SSM to loving, committed same-sex couples.
2012-DEC-29: Marriage equality arrives in Maine:
The referendum becomes effective 30 days after the Governor signed off on the election results. This will be on 2012-DEC-29, which is a Saturday when most government offices are normally closed. However, some offices are always open on Saturdays and some others are planning to open specially on that day. The Maine Office of Vital Records and Statistics will have new forms designed with changed wording, printed, and distributed to town and city clerks for DEC-29.
David Farmer, spokesperson for EqualityMaine said:
"It could be that for the vast majority of people, the first practical time they can get a license will on (Monday) December 31. But we anticipate that some of the [city or town halls in the] bigger municipalities will in fact open; we don't have confirmation of that yet." 2
Michael Brennan, mayor of Portland ME said he will look into the possibility of opening Portland's City Hall on that Saturday, possibly at 12:01 a.m., for the city's -- and possibly the state's -- first same-sex marriage ceremony. On NOV-03, he said:
"We just found out about this today, and we'll look into all the details and make a determination from there. We can't say for sure we'll be open on Dec. 29 or rule that out as a possibility." 3
Kim McLaughlin, the president of the Maine Town & City Clerk's Association, said that there is no waiting period in Maine, so marriages could take place immediately after the license is issued. 4
Thus, the first same-sex marriage may take place very early on Saturday morning, DEC-29. Other weddings will probably be solemnized late that day or on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. There appear to be strong financial incentives to marry before the end of one year rather than at the start of the next year.
Carroll Conley, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine has been a main opponent of SSM. He said that her group is:
"... dealing with notaries and clerks and religious organizations. ... The other issue we're dealing with is religious institutions that rent their properties out for weddings."
There are undoubtedly some notaries and clerks who would like to use their individual religious freedom to denigrate and discriminate against same-sex engaged couples by refusing to sell them a marriage license. However, they have sworn an oath of office to apply all of the laws of the state impartially. This may place them in a conflict situation.
There are many churches that frequently rent their halls for weddings and wedding receptions and who would also like to use their religious freedom to deny access to same-sex couples. The law does contain wording that does not require:
"any church, religious denomination or other religious institution to host any marriage in violation of" its religious beliefs. ... The refusal to perform or host a marriage ... cannot be the basis for a lawsuit or liability."
However this refers only to individual congregations and their clergy. The law does not include a clause giving such privileges to faith groups concerning rental of their halls, or wedding photographers, wedding cake bakers, wedding dress retailers, etc. They may still be subject to anti-discrimination laws.
Reactions by the public to marriage equality:
Some readers of the article published by the Portland Press Herald 3 posted some lively comments:
- Amy R Brown, a legal secretary/receptionist at Sebben & Sebben, who apparently is or has access to a notary public wrote: "... my calendar is open for anyone seeking to get married in this state! :-)"
- Erin Nadeau wrote "And I'm available to photograph!"
- John Dennett wrote: "I'm a Minister with the ULC, Live in Wells, Work in Portland, and will be happy to do weddings of any combination, Drop me a note on Facebook.
"ULC" appears to be the Universal Life Church.
- Kim Wallace wrote: "I am a notary and I would consider it an incredible honor to officiate at any wedding! I am currently available on the 29th if anyone needs an officiant :)"
- Gordie Raynes wrote a very unlikely scenario: "There I STILL time to OVERTURN this travesty as is is immoral & WRONG."
- To which:
- Pastor Michael Stoliker responded: "god [sic] made ADAM AND EVE. NOT ADAM AND STEVE."
Webmaster's note: Actually, Genesis states that God made Adam and Eve. It was their descendents who made Adam, Jr. and Steve. If God made Adam And Steve as the first and only two humans that he created, the human race would never have developed into over 7 billion individuals by today.
- William Stuart wrote: "Ok. . . give that a shot while the SCOTUS deliberates."
- Tedlick Badkey wrote: "Go for it sweetie... it'll be fun to watch."
- Michael Ritter wrote: "Morrill said she hasn't heard from a lot of people asking when same-sex couples could come in to get married. Seeing as only.5% of the 2% of the homosexual population even gets married when same sex marriage is legalized I hardly expect too many people to make the big rush to get married....
' I'm hoping we'll be bombarded,' Morrill said.
Don't hold your breath. This has been a big ruse. It's not really about marriage or much more than.5% would get married when allowed. It's about destroying traditional marriage and destroying the traditional family unit.
Here is a more comprhensive [sic] view of what's going on in America, eye opening video: vimeo.com.
Webmaster's note: I think what Michael Ritter is saying is that only 2% of the adult population is gay or lesbian, and that only 0.5% of them will get married. I think that these figures are way off:
- The common wisdom among human sexuality researchers is that 10% of adults are sexually attracted to persons of the same gender. Of these about half are gay or lesbian and half are bisexual. Thus they conclude that about 5% of the adult population is gay -- not 2% as Ritter seems to believe.
- California has a population of about 38 million of which perhaps 27 million are of marriageable age. Accepting that 5% of the latter are gay or lesbian, then this amounts to 1.35 millions in the state.
- Between 2008-MAY when the courts authorized SSM in California and 2008-MAY, when Proposition 8 cancelled access to marriage, some 36,000 same-sex couples were married. Essentially all were both gay men or lesbians. They represent about 2.7% of the gay and lesbian population. Ritter's 0.5% appears to be too low by a factor of more than 5. If Prop. 8 had failed, MANY more than 36,000 gay and lesbian couples would have married by now.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Maine Marriage Law Effective on Dec. 29, 2012," GLAD, 2012-DEC-03, at: http://www.glad.org/
- Zach Howard, "Save the date: Gay marriages in Maine to start December 29," Reuters, 2012-DEC-03, at: http://www.reuters.com/
- Scot Dolan, "Maine gay-marriage law effective Dec. 29," Portland Press Herald, 2012-DEC-04, at: http://www.pressherald.com/
- "Maine gay marriage law effective Dec. 29." Associated Press, 2012-DEC-03, at: http://seattletimes.com/
Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2012-DEC-05
Latest update: 2012-DEC-08
Author: B.A. Robinson