*****UPDATE*****- I’m truly over-the-moon with pride and joy to update this post and share with you the outcome of yesterday’s vote here in Maine. We made history, people! The majority of voters in Maine believe that same-sex couples deserve equal rights to marry. It’s a good day to be a Mainer.
I’ve wrestled a great deal with whether or not I should write this post. Not because I’m not sure where I stand, but because I’m worried I can’t be articulate enough when expressing how I feel. It’s a political issue here in my State of Maine, so it’s been even more on my mind, on my television, and on my street corners in the form of support for the other side. We’ve had many political discussions in our household this voting season because Nick is old enough to understand the issues and he asks a lot of questions. The one question he keeps on asking me, the one that always leaves me unsure of what to say is, why do you care so much when it doesn’t even affect you, Mom? I have yet to give him a perfectly formed response. My only answer every time is that I have to speak up and support this issue or that one because is it simply the right thing to do as a human being. It is about human rights and the belief that we are all equal. It is about speaking up for our friends or for those who have less than we do, or the people who can’t speak for themselves. It is about women having the right to decide what to do with their own bodies.
In 2009 a measure was passed by Maine’s Legislature to allow same sex couples to marry only to have voters repeal it later on in that same year. Not long after that there was a knock at our door. It was two people representing Mainers United for Marriage and they asked where the voters in our household stood on the matter. My answer was an easy Yes, but Paul’s was a No. I have to give him credit, first for admitting how he felt out loud, but more so for agreeing to listen to what they had to say. I truly wasn’t sure if he would come to the door, let alone be willing to speak with them about it. More importantly, I think, was that throughout their conversation he felt heard by them. He explained his reasons and his worries, which were interestingly for me as a notary public. He explained that if there was specific wording placed protecting those who perform wedding ceremonies from being sued, then he would definitely sign a petition and change his vote if given another chance at the polls. Fast forward to this year and after all of their hard work, Question 1 on Maine ballots will read: “Do you want to allow the state of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?” I have to say that I love the way it is worded. There is no confusion. It is simple and straight forward and easy for anyone who votes to understand.
Now more about how I feel. This is the part where I will probably stumble over my words and mess this up somehow by not saying how I feel in just the right way. I can’t imagine how it must feel to watch and wait as your rights are decided by voters. I have never personally had to watch the outcome of a vote, knowing it would determine my rights as a human being. I can’t imagine how it must feel to love a person with every fiber of your being, but marriage isn’t an option because somehow the kind of love you share isn’t valued or considered right by other people. I can’t imagine having to look at my boys and tell them that their parents can’t be married and we all can’t be a family in every sense of the word. I probably took that for granted until now. I look at friends I have who are gay and their love is some of the deepest I have witnessed and even been lucky enough to feel. Their kindness and compassion is incomparable, but none of that matters because regardless of how deep they love or how decent a person they may be, they still aren’t worthy of the same rights that I have as a person who loves someone of the opposite sex and this makes my heart ache. Honestly it makes me a little angry, too. So the next time that Nick asks me why this issue matters so much to me when it doesn’t even affect my life, I will tell him he is wrong because it affects people I care about, so it definitely affects my life, too.