Citing the state’s homosexual civil union legislation as precedent, several Maine legislators and homosexual activists are advocating a bill that would instate same-sex “marriage.”
If passed, a bill sponsored by state Sen. Dennis Damon, D-Trenton, will allow marriage licenses to be issued to “any two persons… regardless of the sex of such person.”
State Sen. Peter Bowman, a co-sponsor of the bill, argued that establishing homosexual “marriage” is “the only fair thing to do,” SeacoastOnline.com reports. Arguing that homosexuality is “hard-wired,” he said “our society quite frankly needs to acknowledge that and then structure our institutions and traditions to be consistent and to be fair.”
Betsy Smith of the homosexual advocacy group Equality Maine said that marriage is a “worldwide, recognized, honored institution.”
“If you say, 'we're married,' there's a certain respect and dignity that comes with that. Gay people want the same social recognition for their unions that straight people do. The word means something. The word means a lot."
Smith said the successful 2005 effort to establish civil unions was part of Equality Maine’s buildup to the marriage bill.
"We weren't going to win marriage before we won that," she said, according to SeacoastOnline.com.
On Election Day, Equality Maine volunteers at polling places asked people to sign a postcard if they approved of same-sex “marriage.” The group expected 10,000 postcards, but according to Smith they received 33,000.
“Based on that kind of support, we said now is the time," she said.
Opponents of the bill include the Maine Family Policy Council, the Maine Jeremiah Project, Concerned Women for America of Maine, and the Catholic Diocese of Portland, SeacoastOnline.com says.
Mark Mutty, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Portland, told SeacoastOnline.com that there are “numerous secular reasons” for why the proposal is “a bad idea."
"When we (the diocese) speak in the public square, we speak of the common good and the good of society. Marriage is at the root of our civilization. It comes before religions in many respects. It's deep within the human psyche. Same-sex marriage will have tremendous impact on traditional marriage in the long run.”
"It's important that even though we may individually approach this from a faith perspective, we talk about the implications of this from a purely human perspective," Mutty remarked.
He then noted Catholic belief that marriage is “between a man and a woman, and sexual activity is only in a sanctified marriage for the purpose of procreating. To say this applies to same-sex couples defies logic.”
An amendment will likely be added to the bill that will allow the Legislature to put the matter up for referendum in November. Same-sex “marriage” opponents say they have a good chance of defeating the measure in a statewide vote, while backers said they too were preparing for such a move.