I am many things. I am male. I am a paramedic. I am Catholic. I am six feet four inches tall. I am gay. I have brown eyes. I am the sum of my experiences in life and I can be nothing more. I believe that all people are genuinely good, and though there may be some with bad or evil tendencies, I still believe that all people are genuinely good.
I have asked many people many times how my right to marry would affect them and their life and their marriage. I have heard many arguments against same-sex marriage, yet still no one can tell me how my right to marry would affect their marriage. As I said I am Catholic. I was raised in the Catholic Church, I was involved in youth ministry, I directed a choir, I was a Eucharistic minister, I served on my parish council. I base my belief system on the teachings of Christ, not the bureaucracy of the Catholic Church. I have argued with devout Christians who call me ignorant when I say that the Bible is a living document. These are the same people who fail to realize how many times the Bible has been changed over the course of its existence. There are dozens of versions and translations of the Bible, each with its own changes chosen by the translator or reviser, often using the Bible as a means of controlling the masses or defying the current authority. This has been documented throughout history and cannot be denied.
Several people have said to me that same-sex marriage would defile the sanctity of “traditional” marriage. I have done well to hold my tongue and not ask these same people if their divorce from their first (and sometimes second or third) spouse in any way defiles their current marriage. This nation has a marriage failure rate that has been hovering around 50% for quite some time. I’m sorry, but heterosexuals have already messed up marriage.
I have a good friend who believes that marriage is to be between a man and a woman, but he also believes that when the government got into the business of licensing marriage then religious restrictions placed on marriage became invalid. This is a perfect example of how the First Amendment of the United States Constitution works. The First Amendment is often referred to as allowing freedom of religion, while this is true it is also an absolute truth that the First Amendment more importantly allows for freedom from religion, meaning that the government cannot impose a religion upon the people. There is no government sponsored or sanctioned religion in our nation and thus when it comes to codified law the use of religion against same sex marriage is invalid. Our government is a republic, not a theocracy.
When both houses of the Maine Legislature passed LD 1020 and Governor Baldacci signed it into law there are some who decried it as a travesty, who wanted a recall of every legislator who voted in favor of it, who said that the Maine people do not want such a law. These people obviously fail to understand the structure of our government. Our legislators are charged with the task of making law while remaining true to their constituency. Deny it as they may, they do not realize that our legislators did just that. Thousands of people wrote to and called their representatives and senators to voice their opinion. Thousands of people gathered in Augusta to testify before a legislative committee. What these detractors fail to realize is that the people spoke and those in support of same-sex marriage spoke louder and in greater numbers than those who spoke against same-sex marriage.
All of this having been said, people fail to understand how LD1020 is written. The law allows for same-sex marriage but also allows for affirmation of religious freedom. LD1020 removes gender-specific pronouns from Maine’s marriage law and most importantly protects religious freedom. When LD1020 is enacted then Title 19-A Section 655 of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated will read:
This Part does not authorize any court or other state or local governmental body, entity, agency or commission to compel, prevent or interfere in any way with any religious institution's religious doctrine, policy, teaching or solemnization of marriage within that particular religious faith's tradition as guaranteed by the Maine Constitution, Article 1, Section 3 or the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. A person authorized to join persons in marriage and who fails or refuses to join persons in marriage is not subject to any fine or other penalty for such failure or refusal.
This law protects everyone’s rights. It grants me the right to get married and it protects the rights of religious organizations from having to solemnize marriages that are not in accordance with its beliefs and teachings. I ask you, do what is right on November 3rd and join me in voting no on Question 1.