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An Open Letter to Maine From an Ohioan

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[As a quick note: If you're going to comment and tell me how gay marriage is "wrong", please make sure that you aren't repeating any of the arguments I've already addressed here and here. KTHX.]

At the time I'm writing this, gay marriage in Maine is either "too close to call" or "defeated", depending on the news source you're looking at. So, since this state was an asshat back in 2004 (hell, we screwed up the state constitution to do it), I thought I should share some advice with your GLBT citizens and allies.

Even if it passes (and believe me, I hope "too close to call" becomes "a narrow victory"), the closeness of the measure means you need to hear this now.

  1. Ignore the "WTF, Maine" impulse. Both in yourself and others. Half the people in your state is not equivalent to your whole state. Besides, you've made huge progress to this point. Take a look at the General Social Survey. Even in 2006, nationally, only 36% of the people said they favored letting gay people marry. You've already done better than that. You are having an effect: Keep at it.

  2. If you are GLBT and not out, become so. You don't have to make it a constant issue, but just as much a fact as your friends, co-workers, and peers make their sex and relationship lives part of your daily interactions. If you're an ally, become openly so. Get a bumper sticker - I have a rainbow one that says "Friendly". Get a small button. Why? Because everyday routine interactions with GLBT people and allies is the most effective intervention against homophobia and transphobia. That way you are a co-worker, friend, peer instead of some amorphous "other".

  3. It's not over. Anti-miscegenation laws were not repealed until 1967, and two states didn't get on board until the end of the 20th century. There's still holdouts, too, like that asshat judge who was refusing to marry interracial couples this year. This was never a one-time, one-vote thing.

Even if gay marriage is upheld in Maine, it's such a narrow thing that you cannot sit back and relax. Regardless of the outcome, today is the first day of the rest of the struggle. Someday both Maine and Ohio will get our acts together, and we'll sit back and laugh about how bigoted we used to be.

Maybe not today.

But someday.

1 comment :

H├ęctor said...

What bothers me about all of this is that as a nation we don't seem capable of applying the same standards of "equality" to others as we do to ourselves. It is an endemic condition of our culture.

Christian conservatives want rights they do not want others to have, they want religious freedoms they would gladly refuse to a Hindu or a Pagan or a Moslem, and i admit, we gays can be just as bad, we are so busy worried about our own issues and agendas to care what the other side is thinking or wanting, and I think you hit it right on. We are not fighting a war in which a decisive battle must be fought, we are making progress along a road, and the destination isn't gay rights, but equal rights for all human beings.

So, yes, Maine, this time around the changes we wanted did not come to fruition, but take heart in knowing that you are moving along that road, and that we will have to stand with each other as Americans in the end, not as you and us, but as equal partners in a land we built from the bottom up, and that is a process that takes time.