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In the Wake of One

November 4, 2009

For one side of question 1, this was about winning an election. For the other, it was about more. It was about losing a right.

Imagine putting up a right and an actual set of protections for your family to the vote of your neighbors.  It’s absurd that it happens, and I’d lie if I said I am anything other than crushed that it was done to me and we lost.

I don’t doubt that we’ll win our equal rights in my lifetime, but today I’m at a loss for words to express my condolences to families who will actually suffer at this lack of fundamental equality.

The woman who misses seeing her wife on her deathbed because she doesn’t have the right paperwork or the hospital worker simply doesn’t recognize the strange legal maneuvering that was meant to protect both halves of this couple.

The child who isn’t protected when their biological parent dies and the other parent they’ve known their whole life struggles to claim this child as their own.  But this isn’t about just situations involving death.  It’s about the lives we lead and the way we feel about ourselves and the way that a child of a gay couple feels about his or her family.

More than that, I’m sad that bigots and those who judge me without knowing me feel their bizarre, self-righteous and often hypocritical, beliefs have been validated and approved by their neighbors. For the teenagers who took this vote to mean there is something wrong with their gay classmates. That it’s alright to insult and push around. For the teens who continue to live in fear because they just heard that the majority of Mainers don’t think they deserve the same rights as their brothers and sisters and friends.

We’ll win this. If nothing else, I’m personally more committed to that now. You better believe this issue hasn’t been put to bed, because until gay couples are allowed to commit to each other equally, we’ll commit with even more energy to ensuring our equal rights. I’m ready to do what it takes, and I know that the hundreds of thousands of voters who agree will step up again to help. Equality knows no election year and loss number 31 won’t beat the fight out of us.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Robert Dorr Sr. permalink
    November 4, 2009 10:20 am

    When the tide shifted last night around eleven o’clock I became angry because I knew how much this bill passage meant to so many of my friends. But this morning I found myself energized to keep the fight for equality going. Yes this was a defeat in away. But this is really half time. The ball was in the Yes on one people’s court. But today it is in our court.
    The way the question was written appealed to people angry at the Legislature. In fact if you looked at the ballot carfully you saw a number of questions that started out “Do you want to repeal the law,” and it included, same sex marriage, tax reform, school consolidation etc.This was a vote of frustration for a lot of folks.
    Now it is our opportunity to write the law and pose the question on another ballot that reads for example, “Do you want to support a law that gives all couples equal rights? It is a kinder gentler question. Grieve for awhile but don’t let the grief get in the way of opportunity.

  2. George Seaver permalink
    November 4, 2009 2:01 pm

    I know of many otherwise fair and open minded folks who never got a clear certainty that there are specific rights associated with “marriage” that don’t accompany civil union. Had they known, I am certain that many of them would have voted differently.

    I say this not to reduce your committment to upcoming efforts to right this wrong- but maybe to take the edge off your pain and anger as you pass people on the street,and wonder how they voted.


  3. Kate Pennington permalink
    November 4, 2009 2:31 pm

    Nick – I’m still struggling to understand how the Yes side prevailed. You are absolutely right when you say “loss number 31 won’t beat the fight out of us.” I know equality will be achieved someday soon.
    One of the best things about working for No On 1 in Lincoln County was getting to know some fine people who are incredibly dedicated volunteers, and your mother is right at the top of the list! I’m so glad to have worked with her this fall.
    Grieving but looking forward with hope and determination…
    Kate Pennington, Newcastle, ME

  4. Darcy Dungan-Seaver permalink
    November 4, 2009 3:42 pm

    I was so disappointed to see these results today. I think your dad is right that many people — too many people — misunderstand the distinctions between civil union and marriage. And as with health care, people’s lack of understanding is easily turned into fear or at least resistance to make real change. It makes me crazy.

    I’ve been admiring all your great work and analysis on this, Nick, and it sounds like your Mom has been doing an incredible amount of work on it, too. None of that has been lost with these results — it’s just building toward another day.

    Cousin Darcy in Minnesota, still in denial about Michele Bachmann (but cheered up somewhat by

  5. debbie permalink
    November 4, 2009 8:21 pm

    it is hard to describe my emotions this morning when i realized that we had not prevailed. i thought i had probably hit bottom emotionally and then i read your blog. i was blinded by the hurt, pain and anger that you allowed us all to see. i have to believe that if everyone in maine had read this before the vote, you would have changed many yes votes to no votes. i am so proud of you, Nick, for being so open with your emotions and for being you. when the cause starts up again, i shall be in the front lines with you. i am so proud to be your mom!

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