That a basic, seemingly inherent human and civil right – the right to equality under law – can be put up for a vote is abhorrent to me.
And that rights that have been granted by government can be taken away via referendum is doubly abhorrent.
The scary side of referenda reared its ugly head last year in California, with the passing of Proposition 8, overturning the right of same-sex couples to marry and be equal under the law and to the majority of society. Reactionist and fringe groups rallied support against equal rights, and stripped the rights of millions of Californians via a simple vote.
Human and civil rights, denied.
And it seems that the voters of Maine have done the same tonight, in the form of Proposition 1. Maine’s governor and legislature granted the right for all couples, regardless of gender, to have access to civil marriage. In the same measure, they also preserved religious freedom by not requiring churches to perform marriages that run counter to their tenets.
But on November 3, 2009, slightly over
23 29 percent of registered voters in Maine decided to strip the rights of their fellow citizens. They decided that discrimination is just fine, and that the United States Constitution is wrong, and that all men (and women) are not created equal.
It makes me angry that anybody would vote to deny rights to people simply because they don’t agree with genetics. That anybody would be so twisted with hate, fear or confusion (or a combination of all three) to declare via one of the most basic responsibilities a United States citizen has that there is an under-class of people who don’t deserve the same access to a public and legal expression of love and commitment is something that does not compute with me.
I understand that a belief in God, or in the literal word of The Bible, or in a set of morals and beliefs that denies full inclusion for all members of society is a reality, and that many people ascribe to a life molded around such a code of conduct. But when these people have such myopic views and insist on forcing these views upon all others, I have a problem.
I grew up in a theocracy, where such practices are commonplace throughout the state and local government. As an atheist, I feel most unwelcome in places that force such beliefs and practices upon me.
I believe that love is the answer, that love makes a family, and that a family is not defined by a ratio of women to men. If two people love each other, are committed to each other and are willing to legally declare their love and commitment to each other, who am I to deny them that right?
Indeed who is anybody – individual or government – to deny that right?
Society should embrace those who love each other with true commitment and responsibility. They should allow them to be married – in a civil marriage. Marriage need not be religious to be legitimate, but it needs to be marriage. A civil union, seen by many conservatives as the “equivalent” of marriage, is separate but decidedly not equal under the law or under most societal definition.
I hope that DC’s pending legislation to legalize same-sex marriage equality (with protections for religious freedom) passes into law, and that all people in DC will embrace a society where all men and women are equal under law.
But tonight, Maine just makes me sad, angry, and wishing that fear and division were a thing of the past. Indeed, I feel sick to my stomach over this.
To the voters of Maine who voted NO on Proposition 1, I send my heartfelt thanks, and urge you to continue to fight the good fight.
To those who voted for Prop 1, I hope that you open your eyes to love, equality and acceptance of all people. Because fear, bigotry, hatred and myopia will get you nowhere in this world (or, according to friends of mine who are believers, the world after this one).