Moments ago, the Maine House of Representatives passed LD 1020, titled: “End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirms Religious Freedom.” Voting in favor with 87-61, the bill will now be sent to Gov. John Baldacci to be signed (hopefully)- or, he could choose to veto the bill.
Immediately after the passage of LD 1020, Ammedment A was proposed that would send the bill to the the voting ballot. After hearing the argument for the proposed amendment, an opposing Representative proposed an indefinite suspension of the amendment, which was passed by the House, stating that “[the House] should make its stand. If the people file a people’s veto, that is their move- but this is ours.”
I had the opportunity to watch the live broadcast, I was deeply moved by the numerous arguments made on our behalf. Members of both the Republican and Democratic parties spoke about their own feelings, experiences and beliefs regarding this issue of civil rights, and their stories were extremely touching.
One of the most touching moments for me was from Republican Rep. James J. Campbell. Rep. Campbell is in his early 70’s and will be celebrating his 53rd wedding anniversary in the coming months. In his speech, Campbell talked about his marriage and how it has been such a blessing for him in his life- but more importantly, how he couldn’t imagine trying to tell two people, regardless of whether it’s two men or two women, that they cannot experience the same love and relationship that he has.
One of the biggest challenges for the gay rights movement has been the views of the older generations. Polls conducted on the issue show that this is the case- so, to have a Republican Representative in his 70’s show his support for the gay rights movement, in my opinion, is absolutely phenomenal.
It is currently undecided whether Gov. Balducci will sign the bill into law, which would make Maine the 5th state to allow gay marriage and only the second to have done so via legislation (as opposed to court rulings). Supporters are confident that the bill will be signed due to it’s large number of sponsors (50+), however, the governor has not yet made any comments stating one way or the other.
As with every state that is making movements towards gay marriage equality, Maine also has a face to represent those that hate. Mike Heath, head of the Maine Family Policy Council, has already announced his intentions to start a people’s veto of the bill- which would require he and his supports to obtain 55,087 signatures in 90 days from the date of adjournment.
Heath’s statements about homosexuality and the issue of gay rights in general border on comical, if they weren’t so offensive. “…Homosexuality is very sad, and sinful. Maine must not create a culture that winks at something so debilitating on so many levels. To present this ‘orientation’ as benign to impressionable children is the height of arrogance, and surely qualifies as evil.” He has also stated: “Politicians pretend this debate is complicated and emotional. It isn’t. Maine people know the difference between right and wrong. What has been going on in Augusta for the past twenty years is a horrific farce,” and “the other side has that part right. This is about equal rights. It is about making sure everyone has equal legal rights that are rooted in something substantial. Common sense tells all of us that you can’t give rights to people for doing wrong!”
Heath and his supporters will likely face pretty stiff resistance due to the number of other New England states that are making headway in marriage equality- but our hearts, prayers, karma, whatever, are all aimed at you now, Maine, now that this bill is successfully passed into law.
Congratulations on the win of moving this bill to the next step!