Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gay Marriage Advances in Maine

The New York Times
Published: May 5, 2009

AUGUSTA, Me. — Gay-rights advocates moved remarkably close to their goal of making same-sex marriage legal throughout New England on Tuesday, when the Maine House of Representative voted to legalize such unions.

Supporters of same-sex marriage have won victory after victory this spring, with the legislatures of Vermont, New Hampshire and now Maine embracing it. The region is close to offering such marriages full support; Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to let gay couples marry in 2004, and Connecticut began allowing same-sex marriage last fall.

But in Maine and New Hampshire, the governors, both Democrats, will be pivotal in determining whether same-sex marriage proponents succeed in winning over an entire region of the country. Neither Gov. John Baldacci of Maine nor Gov. John Lynch of New Hampshire has made his intentions public. Both men opposed same-sex marriage in the past but have indicated they might be reconsidering.

No governor has yet signed a same-sex marriage bill that was not the result of court ruling. Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, vetoed a bill in Vermont last month, and the Legislature then enacted it after an override. And Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, also a Republican, vetoed a similar bill in California in 2005.

Supporters of the measures probably do not have enough support to override a veto in Maine or New Hampshire.

With the movement enjoying momentum from the string of recent victories — including the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision last month that same-sex marriage should be legal there — Mr. Baldacci and Mr. Lynch are facing considerable pressure from advocates and from their own party, which increasingly supports same-sex marriage.

Mr. Lynch will have five days to make a decision after the bill reaches his desk; Mr. Baldacci will have 10.

In California, where the State Supreme Court may rule this week on whether a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional, gay-rights advocates are optimistic even though many expect the ruling to uphold the ban.

The next state to debate same-sex marriage will probably be New York. Gov. David A. Paterson, a Democrat, introduced a marriage bill last month and the State Assembly, which strongly supports it, will probably take it up next week. The bill’s fate in the Senate is less certain.

In Maine, the Democratically controlled House voted 89 to 57 for the bill; the State Senate, also dominated by Democrats, approved the bill last week in a 21-to-14 vote. Mr. Baldacci’s spokesman, David Farmer, said he would not make a final decision before the bill reached his desk. That could be as soon as Wednesday, when the State Senate is expected to formally pass it.

“He absolutely is listening to what people have to say,” Mr. Farmer said. “But at the end of the day, I think it will come down to what he believes is the right thing to do.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland will be among the groups lobbying Mr. Baldacci, a Catholic, to veto the bill, as will the Maine Family Policy Council, an affiliate of the Family Research Council in Washington. “We’re going to be on his case,” said Marc R. Mutty, director of public affairs for the diocese.

The House chamber was thick with emotion on Tuesday as many legislators openly wept and revealed personal details. One told her colleagues for the first time that she has a lesbian daughter; another wept as he explained that he, as a white man, would not have been able to marry his wife of 25 years, who is black, if a law had not been changed. Other legislators spoke of sleepless nights debating how to vote.

Several political observers guessed that Mr. Baldacci, who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election, would sign Maine’s bill and that Mr. Lynch, who might run again, would let New Hampshire’s become law without his signature.

“I could see him letting it pass without his explicit approval,” Dante Scala, an associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, said of Mr. Lynch. “One of his hallmarks has been to put some distance between himself and the legislature.”

After the Senate’s vote last week, Mr. Lynch restated his belief that the state’s two-year-old civil-union law provided sufficient rights and protections to gay couples. But he did not repeat an earlier statement that marriage should be only between a man and a woman.

While the Iowa decision gave supporters of same-sex marriage an important first victory in the nation’s heartland and a few other states are considering legislation this year, New England remains the nucleus of the movement. Gay-rights groups here have been raising money, training volunteers and lobbying voters and lawmakers as part of a campaign called Six by Twelve.

The region’s strong libertarian bent helps explain why the issue has found support. And voters in some New England states cannot initiate constitutional amendments, a strategy for blocking same-sex marriage elsewhere.

Maine does have a “people’s veto” process by which voters can put a question on the ballot. Opponents of the same-sex marriage law will surely try to collect enough signatures — about 55,000 — to suspend it until a public referendum can be held.

A Rhode Island bill is unlikely to be acted on soon; proponents believe its chances will improve in 2011, after Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, a Republican who opposes same-sex marriage, leaves office.

“We are closer than we thought we would be, although not closer than we hoped we would be,” said Lee Swislow, executive director of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the group leading the New England campaign. Pointing out that May 17 is the fifth anniversary of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, Ms. Swislow added, “New England is such a small region that people have been able to see it’s good for everyone.”

Washington Acts on Marriages

The Council of the District of Columbia on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The measure now goes to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who has said he supports it. The committees in the House and Senate that oversee the District of Columbia would then have 30 session days to review the law. If Congress does not act within 30 days, the law will automatically take effect.


The momentum has now increased and the pendulum turned nation-wide in favor of homosexual "marriage." Civil Union's short of "marriage" while providing legal survivorship and other protections to same-sex couples have been seen as inadequate by homosexual activists who purport that the ability to marry is a civil right. By that they mean the right to marry whomever they wish--irrespective of the sex of the partners. This of course is a clear violation of the Natural (moral and biological) Law--as I have written elsewhere. While heterosexual simultaneous pleural marriage (bigamy or polygamy) however is not contrary to the natural law (biologically [and morally for several millennia prior to the ministry of Jesus Christ]), there is no hew and cry for the legalization of polygamy. Why? Presumably because bigamists in the US lack an effective lobby and or too few Americans prefer that arrangement--although many more might be interested in it if given the opportunity the way active homosexuals currently are.

The real question of course is to what extent is the ability to marry a civil right vs: a legally valid union in which the government preferentially (for practical reasons involving procreation, proper child-rearing etc.) favors traditional male/female coupling--theoretically for life--the traditional marriage arrangement?

If marriage is in fact a civil "right", then to remain intellectually consistent, the government must accept any arrangement an individual or group of persons wishes to codify as "marriage." That includes of course, polygamy, human/animal pairings and the like. Again if marriage is a "right" not a societal privilege, one can even question to what extent one person has the "right" to marry their child, sister, brother or even a minor provided the other party is willing. Once same-sex "marriage" is legalized, there is no logical way other than by a form of ad-hoc and completely arbitrary and capricious decision-making, to limit marriage to 2 human adults.

As can be seen here the legalization of same-sex "marriage" creates unresolvable philosophical and political problems which cannot be rectified by alterations in the law. Marriage (from a Natural Law and Christian moral perspective) should be limited to a life-long commitment of one man and one woman. Moreover, the fact that divorce is now available on-demand in the US adds to the difficulty of limiting marriage to heterosexual couples only. Widespread liberalization of state divorce laws in the mid 20th century (to the current on-demand status without requirement of necessary grounds) no doubt prepared the way for the current same-sex "marriage" movement.

The great concern from the perspective of the common good should be that Traditional Marriage (TM) will become inherently weakened as an institution. If virtually any social arrangement among humans is legally to be considered marriage, (the clear direction that current momentum is taking) then what is unique or to be specially valued from a personal or societal standpoint with regard to TM? If males can legally marry males and females-females while both groups are increasingly able to adopt children what is there that is superior about a life-long heterosexual monogamous relationship that anyone should prefer it to any other arrangement including marital or non-marital infidelity? Will not many heterosexual couples simply avoid marriage altogether assuming that the entire concept has become vacuous/meaningless? If the sociological data establish that children benefit from stable heterosexual two parent families--and they do, what are we subjecting our children and grandchildren to while we carry out social experimentation on the institution of Traditional Marriage?

--Dr. J. P. Hubert