Gay Marriage Setback in Maine


New England’s GLBT community and allies felt the chill this morning as results were declared on Question 1 in Maine. By a vote of 52.6% to 47.4%, Maine’s gay marriage law was repealed by popular vote.

Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, Washington State voters passed Referendum 71 by an equally narrow margin of 51% to 49%, meaning that same-sex couples get to keep the domestic partnership benefits previously granted by the legislature. (Stats courtesy of The Bilerico Project.)

Let the post-mortems begin…

These results, coupled with the unwelcome success of Proposition 8 last year by a nearly identical margin, suggest two things to me: First, that nearly half the population supports gay marriage, but perhaps we could pick up some crucial swing voters by not calling it marriage. Whether this is a sacrifice worth making is not for me to judge, since I’m straight and have never had to weigh the burden of second-class symbolism against the fear of losing financial security for my family.

Second, the poll numbers suggest that mainstream GLBT activist groups aren’t reaching Christian voters. We’ve been treating this as a lobbying issue when it’s a spiritual and cultural one. A hundred get-out-the-vote calls won’t convince someone who answers to a higher authority. Our ads speak the secular liberal language of tolerance and diversity. “Yes on 1” voters probably feel frightened that mainstream culture doesn’t value, and in fact actively assaults, marital fidelity and children’s innocence. To them, more sexual freedom seems like a wrong turn. Of course, scapegoating gays isn’t the answer, but we first need to show that we heard the question.

A conservative Christian friend of mine believes that the Bible calls gays to celibacy, but she’s not interested in legislating away their rights. The Bible’s rules only apply once you’ve made a commitment to Jesus, she says. For the general public, the state should legislate according to secular principles.

I think this is a potentially useful argument for swaying those voters who will never personally feel comfortable with gay marriage. If it’s framed as a question of church-state separation, they might be persuaded to leave the issue up to personal conscience, like pro-lifers who believe abortion is immoral but aren’t inclined to use state coercion to worsen a tragic situation.

At the same time, “open and affirming” Christians need to make specifically Christian arguments for a gay-friendly reading of the Bible, and publicize them through sermons, mailings, and videos, just as their Catholic and Mormon opponents did. I’m working on some ideas in this area. Contact me if you want to help.

4 comments on “Gay Marriage Setback in Maine

  1. Hank Rodgers says:

    Excellent points Jendi! I am in agreement with the substance of this cause, but I come from a “third” viewpoint on this — “separation of church and state”, indeed!

    You have a point, maybe we should stop calling “it” marriage. It seems to me that marriage is historically a matter of family custom and ritual, and “church-family” sacrament, and is not a proper business of government.

    It is a legitimate business of government to enforce civil contracts (of all kinds, and preferably those in written form), as well as to, DIRECTLY, protect the rights of minor children who cannot protect their own interests. Government sanctioned and enforced “marriage” is necessary for neither of these worthy functions.

    Issuing “marriage” licences (with the freedom to change the terms of the “contract” after the fact, with retroactivity and without the consent of the parties, as per the history of “legal” marriage), thus attempting to regulate the sexual relationships of free adults, is unecessary and inappropriate — and obviously ineffective as well.

    Let us leave to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to families, and to “God”, that which is theirs.

  2. Jendi Reiter says:

    Good suggestion. Maybe we are looking to the state for too much symbolic approval. It’s become our God-substitute. The state could simply regulate the financial and legal aspects of family contracts and leave the cultural meanings up to us.

    But this would be a hard sell for many anti-gay folks because they *want* that nod of superiority from the state. It’s not enough for them to believe that God likes them better. They also want Caesar to rub our noses in it!

    Ah, I’m mad today…

  3. My personal feeling is that the quest for marriage equality would be best done in two stages: to get civil unions with full state and federal benefits of marriage across the U.S., and later upgrade them to marriage.

    I feel that the best system, although probably unobtainable, is to disengage the financial and security benefits from the religious aspects of marriage. Let the state handle the former by registering all loving committed couples of whatever gender. Let religions marry people, or refuse to marry them, just as many baptize and confirm them.

    By the way, we have a large section of our website devoted to sexual orientation from all viewpoints. See: http://www.religioustolerance.org/homosexu.htm

    We have a large sub-section of the above on various interpretations of what biblical passages mean about same-sex behavior at http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibl.htm

  4. Marlon says:

    I am not familiar with this site but stumbled upon this by accident. Not too sure what the belief system supports but personally I exegete scriptures so that makes me quite affaired with the bible.

    18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
    19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
    20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
    21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
    22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
    23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
    24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
    25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
    26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
    27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
    28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
    29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
    30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
    31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;
    32and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

    From the above scripture it is quite evident that Godly inspired scriptures are NOT for same sex relationships.
    Sodom was destroyed because of this and has contributed to the discovery of the word SODOMY.

    God created Adam and Eve not Adma and Steve nor did He created Madam and Eve. Why because He blessed them and asked them to multiply. YES, everything that was created was blessed and was meant to multiply. Humans of the same sex cannot mulitply.
    Imagine if Mary was lesbian – NO MULTIPLICATION.

    Help me if I am missing the point here!!!

    People professing to be wise are fools according to this scripture.
    They prefer flesh gratification rather than die to the flesh.

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