Yesterday morning the results for elections were in. The voters in my childhood home of Maine decided to repeal legislation that allowed for same sex marriage. Whatever your view on homosexuality, denying a person the ability to marry is unfair and as marriage is regulated by the government, a denial of equal protection in this country. Yesterday's Facebook comments prompted an on-line discussion among my childhood friends - those who are openly gay and those who are deeply religious. One friend who would describe himself as right wing and religious said that if "they" would just agree to civil unions and not use the word "marriage" then he could live with it. It was the use of the word "marriage" that was too great for him to bear, and civil unions would provide the legal protections that are necessary.
But what is a marriage? Isn't a marriage more than just legal protections. Yes, marriage allows for insurance, estate, and financial protections. But most people enter marriage for deeply personal reasons and many enter a marriage with deep affection for the person they are marrying. Marriage is a way of declaring a commitment to a single person. I understand that for many there is a religious significance to marriage, but there are a good number of heterosexual couples who marry without any religious implication in their ceremony. Are they any less married?
I have friends who are married. They had a ceremony to announce their commitment to one another; they share the responsibility of a home, they work to support one another, they have made wills that leave their estate to the other, they travel together, have family holidays, fight over mowing the yard, pay bills, and in all things, share a life. Their separation would be considered shocking and a "divorce" would have to occur so entwined are their lives. Is there relationship any less of a marriages because they are two men? Denying them the term marriage is choosing form over substance, and is unfair and wrong. And while I understand that not everyone is comfortable with homosexuality, I actually thought that Maine would recognize equal protection.
****now climbing down off high horse, but still deeply saddened . . .