Shana Kelly-Cohen, her partner, and her two-and-a-half-month-old son Joshua are attending the event to support LD 1020. After a morning's worth of testimony by the opposition questioning the parenting skills of gay and lesbian couples, Kelly-Cohen is frustrated. "It makes me feel sad that they don't have the information that children need," she says. "I feel angered that my child's needs are not recognized."
SIDE BY SIDE: Pro-marriage clergy and gay-marriage opponents outside the Civic Center.
People who were neither for nor against the bill are invited to express their thoughts. Mark Henkel, who represents a non-Mormon polygamist group based in Old Orchard Beach, offers polygamy between consenting adults as a solution to the discord, suggesting that the government stay out of defining marriage altogether. "If (a child) can have two mommies, then she should be able to have two mommies and a daddy," he says.
Equality Maine presents testimony from clergy in support of LD 1020 including several rabbis, the Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ, and a devout Catholic couple. "This helps to topple the vicious stereotype of homosexuals as promiscuous," says Methodist Reverend Don Rudalevige. "What the opposition is truly afraid of is the erosion of male hierarchical society."
Reverend Steve Young from Thomaston then stands up for the opposition. "Gay people get sick more often than straight people," he says. "If we do this, your Anthem bills will go up."
To indicate their distaste for Young's remarks, gay-marriage supporters stand up and turn their backs to the podium. Those wearing red did this several times over the course of the day, including when Alan Lowberg, of Washington, claimed that permitting gay marriage would give homosexuals "unfettered access to children ... for the purpose of molesting them."
"He's trying to dehumanize us. We have more in common than he may believe," says LD 1020 supporter Dwight Sholes.
Jonathan Yellowbear from the Sokoki band of the Abenaki Indians testifies for the opposition. Yellowbear tells lawmakers that his wife of 10 years left him for a woman.
Equality Maine representatives ask those wearing red to move down and fill the lower seats as the 5 o'clock news cameras begin to appear.
Jeff Post, a deaf man, stands up in support of LD 1020. "We already have children of the next generation here. They need us to show our support, that we value them," he says through an interpreter.
The fire alarm goes off and everyone evacuates out into the rainy evening. While both sides insinuate that the alarm was political theater perpetrated by the other side, it turns out burning popcorn triggered the alarm. By 5:40 pm most people have returned to the auditorium. The committee hears the remaining testimony cut off by the alarm, then goes into recess from 5:45 to 6:30 pm.
A woman from the Church of Latter Day Saints reads the "Parable of the Shirt" for the opposition. The parable explains that a shirt that is made from a shirt that is made from still another shirt would not resemble the original, and that same-sex marriage, like the shirt in the parable, does not uphold the ideals of the traditional marriage it is based upon.