Maine Voters Repeal Law Allowing Gays to Marry

100px-Seal_of_Maine.svg180px-New_York_City_Proposition_8_Protest_outside_LDS_temple_20The gay-rights movement has suffered a harsh defeat at the hands of voters in Maine. The voters repealed a law that allowed for same-sex marriage — reducing the states allowing same-sex marriage or civil unions. Maine is now the 31st state to reject same-sex marriage. [The two men on the state seal are now strictly prohibited from marrying each other in the State of Maine].

With most polls reporting, 53 percent of voters had approved the repeal. At the same time, a liberal measure passed with voters expanding the state’s 10-year-old medical marijuana law — keeping Maine as the third state with New Mexico and Rhode Island allowing marijuana dispensaries. Thirteen states have legalized medical marijuana.

Notably, the other states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont — have legalized same-sex marriage through court rulings and legislative action. No state has passed a same-sex measure by popular vote.

225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamaThe only hopeful news is that the vote was relatively close. One has to wonder how President Obama might have made a difference if he supported the law. Obama declined to even state support for the law or a similar campaign in Washington state and Kalamazoo. Obama appears to have forgotten his campaign promises to the gay community to fight for their rights. Even after a year in office, the Administration has yet to even end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — something that Obama can do unilaterally. With such a close vote in Maine, the President’s support might have made the difference.

Personally, while I support recognizing marriage for gay couples as an alternative, I remain convinced that the best approach is for all couples to register civil unions with the states and leave the term “marriage” to individual religions to define, here.

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30 thoughts on “Maine Voters Repeal Law Allowing Gays to Marry”

  1. Prof. Turley’s idea is a good one, however, it should be unnecessary to resort to that fix when the Constitution is supposed to work for all Americans. This is a Civil rights issue and should be treated as such. If the South had the opportunity to vote for slavery they would have had almost 100% in favor of slavery. Of course, the reason why we have Constitutional protections is to protect the minority from the majority.

  2. These are the final 2 paragraphs from Prof Turley’s 4/2/2006 article, over *3.5 years* ago.


    [“Whether damnation awaits monogamists or polygamists or same-sex couples is a matter between citizens and their respective faiths. The government should address that aspect of marriage that concerns its insular needs: confirming the legal obligations of consenting adults. As for our politicians, there are levees to be rebuilt, corruption to end and wars to win.

    Of course, this solution would deprive both sides of the debate of a controversy that has been a political and financial windfall. Nonetheless, the public certification of the moral relationships is not the call of government; it is the call of the faithful. It is time we move beyond moral licensing by the government and return marriage to its proper realm: in the churches, temples, mosques, and the hearts of every citizen.”]

  3. First of all, thank you for your consistently principled advocacy for fairness and equality across the board. Particularly in these disappointing times – and I was (emphasis on “was” unless he changes radically by the end of his term) a vocal Obama supporter – it provides some needed courage and a ray of hope.

    I’m certainly not a legal scholar, so correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the Maine result makes all that much clearer that this issue will ultimately have to be decided in the Supreme Court. Any right granted by a benevolent majority or by executive order can be taken away capriciously. If your suggestion (a thought I’ve often had myself) to limit the use of the word “marriage” to religious ceremonies and to define all civil marriages as “civil unions” – a contract available to all consenting adults – became law due to legislation or executive order, wouldn’t there forever be either right-wing hardliners spearheading movements to repeal or Republican Presidential candidates vowing to reverse the executive order? Short of an obviously unlikely constitutional amendment, which I don’t think enough of the country would support to make it a real threat, the Court’s ruling would most likely be the end of the matter.

    Thanks for everything you’re doing, Jon.

  4. Anonmously Yours: “How do you get divorced in a state in which you do not have legal residence/jurisdiction?”

    From what little domestic relations law I recall, the idea of the marital res (marital thing) greatly affected where and how you could get divorced. If you got married in New York, then the marital res existed in New York and therefore allowed in rem process & proceedings.

  5. PJT wrote:

    “I remain convinced that the best approach is for all couples to register civil unions with the states and leave the term “marriage” to individual religions to define…”

    That is the only tenable solution to this contentious issue. However, it is too logical to make sense to the illogical majority.

    The foregoing opinion is from a man who is anti-gay marriage and emphatically anti-religion.

  6. Bob Esq,

    Sorry to disagree but Clinton was forced to sign a thing called “in defense of marriage” hence not all states have to give FF&C to other states marriages, so this presents a legal conundrum. How do you get divorced in a state in which you do not have legal residence/jurisdiction?

  7. Who cares where the marital res is located when all 50 states are bound by the full faith and credit clause.

  8. Once again, fear rules the day. This nation seems to be chocked full of cowards driven to their knees by religious rantings and mindlessly frightened, poll-taking, elected officials, and media personalities.

    Courage is intellect over fear. The more intellect one brings to a fearful situation, the more bravery ensues. Anyone who has had to take a deep breath, quiet the panic, and face the danger knows exactly what I mean. True, once intellect is brought to the mind-table, the decision may be to run like H but that is not the running of a coward. That is simply “know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em” brought about through the intellectual thought process that allows one to PICK an advantageous route of retreat in order to fight again.

    A brave retreat is not what we saw in Maine. There, naked fear triumphed over thoughtful reflection and intellectual fair mindedness. The only hopeful sign was … not by much.

  9. Mike,

    I have to disagree on former CA Gov. Davis. He was a horrible governor. Not as bad the the B movie actor, but he was very bad. They simply replaced sh*t with shinola at the California polls. Both are messy and of limited use and unlikely to leave the state unmarred.

  10. C.L.

    Reality breaks down the anti-gay-marriage movement even more.
    In America marriage is a civil institution. That’s why even if you have a religious ceremony you’re not legally married until you sign the legal document, or if you live in the right place, meet the conditions to be considered common law spouses. That’s why you can be legally married without a religious ceremony. Weddings CAN be religious, but legal marriage has nothing to do with weddings other than the two usually happen about the same time.

    If people are loud and wrong, they’re still wrong. There’s no need to pander to bigots just because they’re loud bigots.

  11. This vote just makes me sad and mad. The entire voter initiative style of State government is fatally flawed. California, for instance, is in “bankruptcy” because of it. Also too, the Californians recalled a competent and adequate, if non-charismatic Governor and wound up electing a movie star whose greatest screen talent was flexing his muscles. Human rights are not an issue to be put to popular votes. Native Americans would have been completely exterminated, Blacks would still be slaves, Irish Americans, Latino’s, Italian Americans and Jews would also be second class citizens if their rights had been put to popular votes.

  12. Turley,
    I love the idea of having all unions be called civil unions, with all the rights marriage currently has. It breaks down the entirety of the anti-gay-marriage movement’s argument, which is that marriage is a religious act and X religion doesn’t allow gay marriage.

  13. I think the left wing needs to come out strong and articulate social justice. We need justice for the poor, the working class, the middle class. We need justice for women. We need justice for gay and lesbian people. We need justice for people of color. We need green jobs and immediate action on global warming. Very few of the so called leaders of the Democratic party, to include the president, share these goals. It’s time to recognize this fact and get cracking on creating real social justice. That means framing human rights as a moral issue. That means framing the obscene bank bailout as a moral issue. That means confronting our wars of empire as a moral issue. That means confronting corporations as a justice issue. That means speaking up for the downtrodden. It means fighting for a sustainable way of life on earth. It means showing the rule of law is a profound issue of justice for all.

    The left is offering no alternative to the right wing vision of “morality”. To be frank, the Democratic party is just as involved in screwing the people as the Republican party. I grant you that there are Democrats who try for justice in the Congress, but they are few and far between. No wonder there is no difference between the parties to articulate. There isn’t any difference there. That fact must change. The left wing is supposed to care about social justice. We should speak out. We should support anyone from any party who supports justice and deny all money and support to anyone who opposes it. We should support and create endeavors that bring about social justice. We have to do this because no one else will do it.

  14. Why do you call it “hopeful news” that the vote was close? Aren’t you sort of against gay marriage by way of wanting all current marriages to be civil unions and marriage to be a term only affiliated with the religious ceremony/process? Or are you sort of by default for gay marriage because you don’t think that we’ll ever actually get rid of “marriage”?

  15. Bad on you Maine. As a side note, this is what the term “tyranny of the majority” is all about.

  16. I will never be able to understand the willingness that some people show for taking away or limiting the rights of others. And those same people would be screaming blue bloody murder if someone tried to take THEIR right to do something away.

    And all because of a book of Christian mythology. **shakes head in disgust**

  17. I’m not surprised by this result. There were a lot of “they’ll teach your kids gay in Maine schools!!!!!111” commercials and not much response, at least that I heard.

  18. You legalize pot shops and then back away from same sex marriage. Now there’s a mixed message for your liberal constituents.

    Two steps forward and one step back keeps a state standing in place, Maine. But at least you aren’t walking backwards like Louisiana.

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