Gender balance

LD 1020 and marriage fairness
By SHAY STEWART-BOULEY  |  April 29, 2009

I talk a lot about race. It's not the only thing I talk about in relation to diversity, but as a black woman in Maine, it's easy to get into a rut on that topic at times.

But there are times when we must put down our typical lenses and pick up new ones. The pessimist should be willing and able at times to pick up the pair of glasses with rose-colored lenses. People who enjoy white privilege should be willing to pick up a pair of shades with some dark lenses and look at things from the other side.

And me? Well, it's time for me to look through some rainbow-colored lenses.

Diversity isn't just about mixing things up. It isn't about giving handouts to a group that is oppressed or believes it is oppressed. Diversity isn't even just about being open-minded. In the end, it's about fairness.

Gays and lesbians are being treated unfairly in most states of this nation by being denied the right to marry each other; we may be on the verge of seeing that inequity end in Maine.

Last week saw a hearing on a pair of bills being considered in the state legislature. The one that is getting most of the attention is LD 1020, sponsored by state Senator Dennis Damon, D-Trenton, which would make it possible for people of the same gender to actually get married, just like heterosexuals, and enjoy all the same privileges that such a union entails — though it wouldn't require religious institutions to perform such marriages if doing so ran counter to their doctrine. The other, LD 1118, sponsored by state Representative Leslie Fossel, R-Alna, would confer on state-registered domestic partners rights, protections, and benefits similar to those granted to spouses.

I'd prefer that LD 1020 end up going the distance, because actual marriage would be true fairness, but if LD 1118 makes it — and even that might not pass, because Mainers right now are split down the middle on this issue — it would at least be a good start.

I'm liberal, but let me be clear: I'm a Christian who believes in the Bible as the word of God and who accepts Jesus as the guy who died for my sins and is the son of God. That being said, I think of myself as a recovering Evangelical because too many in that camp take family values to a level where they discriminate, and hide behind the Bible to do it. I believe God makes spiritual policy, but religion should never dictate law or social policy. This is a nation based on secular politics.

We also can't simply stand on the idea that marriage only between a man and a woman is a tradition that must be defended at all costs. Getting dowries for marrying off one's daughter was a tradition, and still is in some places. There once was a time that wives could be treated almost as property, and society accepted it. There once was a time that I as a black woman couldn't be married to a white man as I am today — and that really wasn't very long ago historically.

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , U.S. Government, U.S. State Government, Culture and Lifestyle,  More more >
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