State Representative Philip Curtis (R-Madison) is the first to speak for the opposition. Should gay marriage happen in Maine, "parenting as we know it will no longer exist," he says. "Classrooms ... will become gender-neutral," he adds. When the other side starts laughing, Judiciary Committee senate chair Larry Bliss, a Democratic senator from South Portland, has to warn them to pipe down and be respectful.
Robert Talbot, of the Maine NAACP, comes to the microphone to speak in support of LD 1020. His testimony is relatively straightforward; he talks about the difficulties he faced as a black man wanting to marry a white woman during the 1960s. But toward the end of his speech, the tenor of his voice changes, his inflection goes up, he can't subdue his passion (and rage): "It's was wrong 40 years ago — it's wrong now!" The crowd stands and cheers.
Ella Warner, 9, cries at the podium with her parents behind her. (Days later on the conservative Web site AsMaineGoes.com, an observer notes, had "a child spoken against the bill, tearfully crying 'all children should be able to have a mother and father...' as genuine and perceptive as such testimony might have been, you can certainly expect that such would have been derided as being 'manipulative,' and heard complaints 'how dare they use their child in such a way.'")
World War II veteran Phillip Spooner, 86, comes to the podium in support of LD 1020. "I was asked by a woman at a polling place recently if I believed in equal rights for all people," he says. "I told her that's what I fought for on Omaha Beach."
Pastor Steve Schreiber from Georgetown takes the podium in opposition. "Marriage is not broken and does not need fixing. Being gay shortens your lifespan by eight to 20 years," he says, citing a 1997 study published by the International Journal of Epidemiology titled "Modeling the impact of HIV disease on mortality in gay and bisexual men." The study found that from 1987 to 1992, 95 percent of men who died of AIDS-related illnesses in Vancouver, Canada, were gay or bisexual. The research revealed that life expectancy at age 20 for gay and bisexual men ranged from 34 to 46.3 years, compared to 54.3 years for heterosexual men in the area. This study has not been repeated.
The opposition continues to employ physical and rhetorical props. A woman from Lisbon Falls reads the poem "The Manly Man" (literary merits questionable). The author of the poem is unknown. A sampling: "Hurray for the manly man who comes, with sunlight on his face/And the strength to do and the will to dare and the courage to find his place/The world delights in the manly man, and the weak and evil flee/When the manly man goes forth to hold his own on land or sea."
David Lilly, the president of the Maine Psychological Association, stands up in support of LD 1020 and to repudiate claims of "scientific evidence" offered by the opposition. "There is no scientific evidence to support that there is a connection between parents' sexuality and parenting skills," he says.