Maine voters rejected a state law Tuesday that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry. Their repeal comes just six months after the measure was passed by the Maine legislature and signed by the Democratic Governor, John Baldacci.
The vote in Maine to prohibit marriage for same-sex couples is disappointing. Marriage discrimination makes it more difficult for members of same-sex couples to care for each other and their loved ones, and it weakens the critical role families play in our society.
At the same time, it is important to see the bigger picture. In recent years, several states have adopted marriage equality laws, while many others have taken steps toward full equality by implementing civil unions and domestic partnerships. Most important, a clear majority of Americans—76 percent—support some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. It is only a matter of time before all couples are recognized and valued, and marriage discrimination becomes a legal and social artifact.
There was also some good election news yesterday for gay and transgender Americans. Voters in Kalamazoo, Michigan, approved adding gay and transgender people to the city’s existing nondiscrimination ordinance. This expanded law will make sure everyone in Kalamazoo is treated fairly in employment, public accommodations, and housing. Until a federal nondiscrimination law is passed, it is critically important for cities like Kalamazoo and states to establish their own protections for gay and transgender people.
Finally, initial returns out of Washington State showed voters there approving a domestic partnership law that gives almost all the benefits of marriage at the state level, but because of the Defense of Marriage Act—in which the federal government defines a marriage as between one man and one woman—same-sex couples would receive no federal benefits. This would make Washington the first state to support domestic partnerships by popular vote.
Despite the loss in Maine, the country is still making progress on expanding and defending gay and transgender equality.
For more on this topic, see:
- One Simple Step for Equality by Winnie Stachelberg, Josh Rosenthal, and Claire Stein-Ross