2009-11-10 / Opinion

Slim majority against marriage equality may soon be reversed

In his radio address last week, Gov. John Baldacci spoke briefly but eloquently about the regrettable passage of Question 1, which vetoed Maine's marriage equality law.

He expressed confidence that one day all Maine families will be treated equally, “but for today, we must respect the judgment of Maine voters.”

Certainly the governor of Maine cannot do anything other than follow Maine law. What we found especially welcome was the fact that he included an important word of qualification ”“ the word “today.”

Like many others, Baldacci is clearly looking toward tomorrow, when the rights and responsibilities of marriage will be available for every committed partnership.

The Legislature's careful consideration of same-sex marriage this spring opened many minds. Earnest testimony from otherwise ordinary couples, their children and parents, have made even opponents of same-sex marriage more thoughtful about equal rights.

The editorial board of this newspaper does not see any likelihood of compromise on this issue, but we are hopeful that further legislative efforts will again help to spread tolerance and respect.

Legislators could also address fears raised by critics, like the belief that marriage equality would somehow influence what is taught at school. A new marriage bill should again make it absolutely clear that it preserves the right of religious groups to define marriage according their doctrine.

The  Legislature is not the only route to establishing equal rights. In Massachusetts, California, Iowa and elsewhere, judges have found traditional marriage laws to be unconstitutional. Maine voters should be given every chance to put discrimination behind us, but in the final analysis individual rights should not be subject to a veto by the majority.

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