Smile Politely

One giant leap backwards for Maine-kind

I don’t know much about Maine.

I know that it borders only one other state and that it is the easternmost place to travel in the U.S. I know that the Americans and the British fought for Maine a few times (American Revolution, War of 1812) and that it used to be a part of Massachusetts until it became our 23rd state under the Missouri Compromise. Also, I know that all the facts I just listed can be found in the first two paragraphs of Maine’s Wikipedia page.

Really Maine? Really? I had no reason to hate you — or love you for that matter — and felt content living my life in an ignorant bliss with regards to you. You were like that acquaintance that I never really got to know but that looked like a pretty all right dude in my friend’s Facebook photos. Like one time he was wearing aviators and I thought — “whoa, who is this Maine douche” — but then later I saw one of his favorite shows was the West Wing and I could see us being friends.

Maine got along fine with New Hampshire and Canada — my roommates from freshman year at ISR — so if they were cool with Maine, I was cool with Maine.

And then Maine had to go all California on our asses.

On Tuesday, Maine voters followed California voters from 2008 and voted to repeal Maine’s gay marriage law. The whole thing is a little disappointing, confusing and frustrating.

The first emotion I had late Tuesday was just an overwhelming sense of “not again frown face” (an emoticon I’m currently designing). I don’t understand why people feel strongly about something that will never affect their day to day lives. If I want to marry my boyfriend and live happily ever after, in what possible way does that interrupt the status quo of Mr. and Mrs. Jones’ impending march into the doldrums of conservative hell?

Too far? Perhaps. But my boyfriend and I had a nice trip planned to a church in Owls Head, Maine to tie the knot and the airline tickets are non-refundable. Could we go to Iowa? Yes, but it smells like shit and isn’t on the ocean.

I’m also flooded by an overall sense of confusion. There are reasons why we elect representatives to make our laws for us. Our representatives are there to make judgments on our behalf, taking into consideration not only public opinion but interpreting a grander sense of equality while holding their constituents to a higher standard. In Maine, the representatives achieved this equality. They understood the zeitgeist and realized it was time for a change.

Why are these issues even allowed on ballots for referenda? Are we getting to the point where we need Federal intervention to prevent citizens from overriding the decisions of their legislatures? I’m all for state’s rights, but not when the states aren’t right!

And if you want to argue that Maine’s ‘People’s Veto’ is a profound statement of democracy, I want to underscore some of the previous ‘People’s Vetoes’ in Maine’s history: “An Act to Divide the town of York and establish the town of Gorges (1910),” “An Act relating to the Sunday sales of Liquor (1966),” and my favorite — “An Act Relating to Standard Time (1925).” These are the sorts of referendums that are appropriate for the voters to decide. Not the basic human rights of an entire subsection of the state.

Overall, I just feel frustrated. Does the Maine vote really affect my day-to-day life? No. Do I care what happens in Maine? No. Was I really going to Facebook friend Maine just because he was a Cubs fan and used to date Massachusetts? Debatable. But at the end of the day, we lost again. And these losses are piling up.

But to quote Richard Nixon (wow), only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain. Yes, 52% of Maine voters wanted to repeal the same-sex marriage law. But many of them who were polled said they supported gay couple’s fight for equal marriage protections — just without the name. And let’s not forget, 48% of the state voted in support of the law. Not too shabby.

Is it the result I wanted? No. Is it a step backward in the fight in favor of gay marriage? Maybe.

But on a cool fall day when it appeared that the fight for equality took a step backwards state-wide, voters in Knox County, Maine — a county housing such towns Friendship, Hope, and Union — chose to support gay marriage. And there’s your silver lining.

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