Inequality in Maine

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November 7, 2009 by Daniel Stack

Earlier this week the people of Maine, via a ballot initiative, repealed a law which affirmed the right of same-sex couples to marry.

I guess this a triumph for democracy. A minority group has been blocked of a right held by the majority. Does this seem right?

But we live in a democracy. It was what the majority of the people wanted. Right?

To be honest, I skew towards John Adams. Majority rule could be a terrifying thing, hence all the checks and balances in the US government, as well as elected representatives. Look at California’s budget disaster. The use of ballot initiatives has allowed them to vote for spending as if they were socialists and taxes as if they were libertarians. In Maine, as in California, people who want to enter into a legal commitment to each other are blocked from doing so. Or if they are fortunate, forced into a “separate but equal” recognition of their relationship.

Ive heard the religious arguments against same-sex marriage. And to be honest, I don’t give a damn about them. We have no state religion. The religious beliefs of one group should have no impact on the rights of a group not affiliated with that religion. I don’t see anyone in a hurry to inscribe Sharia law at the local, state, and federal levels of the United States.

But isn’t this to protect the institution of marriage, whose purpose is to produce children? I don’t buy that for one second. Elderly men and women, after the death of a spouse, often remarry. Should we require 80-year old men and women to take fertility tests and if they fail give them a civil union, which is just as good, right? What about couples who are infertile? Or who just don’t want kids?

Speaking of kids, I’ve heard the argument that this means parents won’t be able to protect their kids from the “gay agenda” in schools. You know, there are gay people out there right? And lots of other people who don’t live a life you consider moral, right? Should we deny that men and women ever cohabitate? Or that there are single parents? Let’s have a little perspective. Kids are going to grow up in a multicultural society. They are going to be exposed to different morals and ideas. At my Catholic high school we were educated on different religions. Not once was such a discussion begun with “this religion, which is wrong and whose adherents will go to hell…” We were taught to respect other beliefs. Heck, a more than trivial number of the student body was of other religions — either other Christian denominations or Muslim or Jewish. My daughter’s school has members of all those faiths, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, and probably a lot more.

Rereading this I see that it sounds angry. But I am angry. I keep thinking of what American attorney David Boies once said: “If we were prepared to consign minority rights to a majority vote, there would be no need for a constitution.”


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November 2009
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