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Today’s Groundshift

May 6, 2009

Today at 12:52pm, I received a call telling me that Gov. Baldacci had signed LD 1020 into law.  I’ve been following the progress of this bill very closely and I’ve listened to as much of the the public hearing, and House and Senate debate as possible.  I’ve followed the expectations and predictions of how the politics would play out, but nothing prepared me for that call.

I honestly did expect LD 1020 to pass (and still expect it to face a ballot initiative subject to an attempted “people’s veto”), but even that expectation didn’t prepare me for the reality.  I was completely blown away by the news and still don’t think the full implications have sunk in.  When Gavin Newsom introduced gay marriage in San Francisco in 2004, I thought it was a stunt that would ultimately hurt our chances of achieving even civil unions.  I thought the backlash would be so immediate and fierce that it would put the gay rights movement back years.  I was wrong.

The push for gay marriage has obviously seen failures (read: Prop 8), but it has put the conversation center stage.  It is easier to put off choosing a side when no one is talking about an issue.  Out of sight, out of mind.  My failure was in thinking that, when forced to take a side, there would not be enough people who would take my side.

I really can’t emphasize how glad I am to have been wrong.

Realistically, there is still a good chance that a people’s veto will pass and a majority of people–when in a private booth on election day–will take away the rights of a minority.  If this happens, I think we’ll see the pro-civil rights side energized as we did in the wake of Prop 8.  My hope, however, is that if forced to vote on my rights after such a public and vibrant debate, people will go beyond the tag lines of “conservative” or “traditional” or “liberal” or “progressive,” and they’ll see this is about real people.  It’s about my right to someday marry the person I love and have the same protections as my five siblings.  It’s about the rights of a child to say his parents are married.  It’s about the rights of that child to feel that his family is valued and respected as much as any other family.

Six years ago, I would have NEVER believed that same-sex marriages would be recognized in Maine before I turned 25.  Now, I think Mainers–and people across the country–have been forced to stop and consider what their casual opposition to (or lack of support for) marriage equality really means.  The good news is people have proven themselves to be thoughtful and compassionate.  I think the majority of those who step back and think about the issue and the effect it has on their family, friends, and neighbors, are coming down on the side of justice.  It will be a while before I can really step back and take full stock of what today has meant, but until I really can fully appreciate it: Thank you for proving my worst fears false.

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