It’s More Than Marriage: What’s At Stake in Maine
by Pastor Bob Emrich
I don’t know anyone who looks across acres of clear-cut land and calls it tree equality. That makes as much sense as looking at the extreme changes to Maine’s marriage law approved recently by Gov. Baldacci and calling it marriage equality.
Look at the facts and decide for yourself. Let’s start by comparing Maine’s marriage law before and after the change.
The State of Maine held the historic definition of marriage in highest regard throughout Maine law. Maine law told us why “traditional monogamous marriage” was well worth State government protection and promotion. Maine law said, “The union of one man and one woman joined in traditional monogamous marriage is of inestimable value to society..;” The word “inestimable” means too valuable to be measured or fully appreciated.
Maine’s marriage law said: “..the State has a compelling interest to nurture and promote the unique institution of traditional monogamous marriage in the support of harmonious families and the physical and mental health of children;”
That part of the law is full of wonderful, important words. “Compelling” means the State’s interest in historic marriage cannot be refuted. “Nurture” means to cherish, to encourage the growth of. To “promote” means to support. “Unique” means the only one of its kind. An “institution” is a well-established and familiar custom.
That paragraph of Maine’s marriage law ends with, “…and that the State has the compelling interest in promoting the moral values inherent in traditional monogamous marriage.”
Finally, the whole purpose of Maine’s marriage law was, “To encourage the traditional monogamous family unit as the basic building block of our society, the foundation of harmonious and enriching family life;”
Maine legislators and the Governor took every bit of the marriage law I have just outlined for you, clear-cut it, and threw it out as worthless garbage. All that language and, more important, the meaning behind the words, is gone.
It was cut first by a majority of the Maine Legislature who said societies were wrong for thousands of years in valuing “traditional monogamous marriage” as “the basic building block of society.” They came up with their new definition of marriage, which Governor Baldacci signed it into law. It starts with: “Marriage is the legally recognized union of 2 people.”
Baldacci’s new marriage law then redefines all of the historic terms we associate with marriage: Widows aren’t just women. Neither are wives and brides. Husbands, grooms, and widowers aren’t just men. In fact, the Governor’s new marriage law says: “Gender-specific terms relating to the marital relationship or familial relationships, including, but not limited to, ‘spouse,’ ‘family,’ ‘marriage,’ ‘immediate family,’ ‘dependent,’ ‘next of kin,’ ‘bride,’ ‘groom,’ ‘husband,’ ‘wife,’ ‘widow’ and ‘widower,’ must be construed to be gender-neutral for all purposes throughout the law, whether in the context of statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil law.”
There you have it. It is a belief among those of us supporting a Peoples Veto of this law on the November 3, 2009 ballot that Mainers deserve a full and honest debate about this radical law and its impact on society short-term, mid-term, and long-term. The one public hearing on this law, in Augusta, on a work day was a very bad call by the legislators involved.
Mainers must have the opportunity to decide if adopting a law redefining historic marriage as gender-free, instead of Maine law saying “..the State has a compelling interest to nurture and promote the unique institution of traditional monogamous marriage in the support of harmonious families and the physical and mental health of children,” is what they want for themselves, their children and grandchildren.