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Maine House Gets Personal

May 5, 2009

Several of the people who spoke before today’s vote offered very personal accounts in a very public forum.  Rep. Charles Priest told the room that,

“I have a grandchild and I love her deeply.  This grandchild is the child of my gay daughter.  I want that child to grow up with her parents in a loving, stable relationship, a civil relationship which is recognized by the state.  The only way for that to happen is to enact this bill.”

The New York Times has a nice recap of today’s hearings in Maine.

The House chamber was thick with emotion Tuesday morning, as many legislators openly wept and revealed personal details few knew. One woman told legislators for the first time that she has a lesbian daughter; another wept as he told colleagues that he, as a white man, wouldn’t have been able to marry his wife of 25 years, who is black, if a law weren’t changed. Other legislators spoke of sleepless nights debating how to vote on the bill.

“As a member of this legislative body ethically it is my duty, my responsibility, to publicly say to my daughter I do not support her way of life,” said Rep. Sheryl Briggs, whose daughter is a lesbian. “I just had to finally confess to her exactly how I feel, and now I have no choice. I have to hit that button.”

During last week’s testimony, Senate President Libby Mitchell gave an impassioned speech about her support of LD 1020.  I’ve included her speech below.

“I grew up in a South where I drank out of ‘whites-only’ water fountains.  I went to an all white school.  And the worst part was, I thought it was alright because that’s the way the world was.  Things changed and somehow my sister and I managed–even though she’s still there–to learn tolerance.  To learn the importance of people’s individuality and respecting them and taking them from whence they came.  How that happened, I do not know.  I think it was because my parents, who would never vote the way I’m going to vote, taught me to think and to respect stories, like those from the Senator from Penobscot, stories like those of the Senator from Cumberland.  These are my friends, and they share their stories…You ask me what does this have to do with it?  It has to do, to me, with transforming how we view other people and how we accept other people as we go forward.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2009 3:39 am

    Great article with very inspiring speech. Keep it up!

    LLC

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  1. Christian Civic League Goes After Mitchell and EqualityMaine « Leave it to Seaver

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