So, to those who are still opposed, I have a few questions:
• Isn't it enough that religious freedom is expressly protected by the proposed law? No religious institution would be forced to marry same-sex couples or to recognize same-sex marriages that conflict with religious beliefs. As pastor Michael Gray of the Old Orchard Beach United Methodist Church said at Monday's rally, if you're worried about preserving religious freedoms, you should in fact vote in favor of the referendum.
• Isn't it enough that the sky has indeed not fallen in the places that do allow same-sex couples to tie the knot? (See sidebar, "Where We Stand Now.") Here's just one example: According to the US Census Bureau, five of the 10 states (plus the District of Columbia) with the lowest divorce rates are also among the nine jurisdictions that recognize gay marriages.
• Isn't it enough that studies have shown that growing up with two gay parents isn't harmful to kids — and is certainly better than being raised in a single-parent home? A recent study in the Pediatrics journal, reported by Time magazine, suggested that children of "planned lesbian families" do better academically and "were less likely to have behavioral problems." (The truth is that we won't be able to really study the effect of gay parenting for a generation.)
• Isn't it enough that the most prominent argument of the opposition (the "they'll teach gay in schools" bit) — the one they believed would have the most traction in 2009 — has been proved specious? "Here in Maine, our Learning Results standards and education regulations make no reference to the teaching of marriage in any way," Maine Department of Education communications director David Connerty-Marin was quoted as saying at the time. "So a change in Maine's laws or definition of marriage places no requirements on local districts regarding whether or how they teach about marriage. Such curriculum decisions are strictly local. Before or after passage of the gay marriage law a district could choose to teach about marriage or not, and to teach about it in any way it deemed appropriate."
• Isn't it enough that there are other complicated and crucial policy questions at hand, ones that affect health-care costs and taxes and our state's economic health — but, being less sexy than social issues, often get buried by debates such as this one?
In other words, let's move on.
Still, I'll do my part. At Monday's rally outside of City Hall, Mainers United for Marriage campaign director Matt McTighe implored hundreds of pro-marriage supporters to "talk to every Maine voter you know," and tell them how the freedom to marry personally affects all of us, our friends, family members, and co-workers.
Okay. Here's my story:
I'm fortunate enough to be in the fledgling stages of planning my own wedding, which will take place next year. I am so excited to stand in front of my friends and family and pledge my commitment to a wonderful man. I can't think of a single way that our relationship or our future marriage has been or could be affected negatively — or even positively — by affording same-sex couples the right to experience similar joy.
Wait, that's not totally true. I believe love grows from love, and that my (our) concept of family will evolve from what we see around us. If our community supports strong relationships, our relationship will grow stronger. And if we decide to have children, I want them to grow up in a world where people value inclusion, and most of all, love.