We’ll have a gay old time

I will never apologize for my open homer-ism about life in New England, especially when it seems like every week my home region gives me another reason to cheerlead.

AUGUSTA, Maine—State Sen. Dennis Damon is introducing a bill to end the prohibition on gay marriage in Maine. House Republican Josh Tardy, meanwhile, is proposing to bolster the state law restricting marriage to one man and one woman by making it a constitutional amendment.

The dueling proposals ensure that gay marriage will be hotly debated this legislative session.

As it stands, Maine has a domestic partnership registry that’s open to gay couples. But that’s not enough for gay marriage supporters. Damon says it’s time to “fully end discrimination in Maine.”

Gay marriage is being debated elsewhere in the region.

In New Hampshire, a bill’s been submitted to replace the term “civil union” with “marriage” in the state’s 1-year-old civil union law. Vermont, the first state to recognize same-sex couples with its civil unions law, is now likely to consider a gay marriage bill.

Tardy’s competing bill is admittedly depressing, but I think Damon’s has a fighting chance. Maine is more Republican than the rest of New England, but that’s mostly due to fiscal conservativism. If you want to help things along, you can email Senator Damon to tell him you support his measure or (politely!*) ask Representative Tardy not to enshrine bigotry in the state constitution. Obviously this is especially important for constituents, but even if you’re not a Mainer it’s still valuable to let those on the side of equality know they’re not alone, and let those trying to legislate hate know that their bigotry won’t be condoned.

If things go well, marriage equality could be the status quo in five out of six New England states by the end of the year. What’s up with you laggers in Rhode Island? Get with the program!

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*I say “politely” because although I know outrage over this issue is absolutely warranted, feeding someone’s fantasy that they’re a persecuted crusader for an unpopular moral right just encourages them to never accept defeat.

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