Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Voters in Maine Repeal Gay Marriage Law

It appears that voters in Maine have repealed the gay marriage law that was passed back in May. According to the polls, 53% voted yes to Question 1 on the ballot.

Of course, it was a year ago that voters in California passed Proposition 8 which amended the state constitution to prohibit gay marriage. The referendum was prompted by the California Surpeme Court which ruled same sex couples could marry.

Although Maine and California are at the opposite ends of the country they are both liberal states. The fact gay marriage cannot pass in these jurisdictions does not bode well for its future at least not in the short term.

Yet it is worth noting that gay marriage in Maine came about through the legislature and not the courts. Conservatives have often objected to gay marriage on the grounds that it was imposed by the judiciary. Clearly that argument could not be made in Maine. So one could make the case that it is disingenuous to oppose gay marriage on the grounds that it is imposed by the judiciary only to turn around and oppose it when it is passed through legislation. But as Michael Barone says, "All process arguments are insincere."

Nonetheless, gay rights activists are going to have to rethink same sex marriage. At the very minimum, they will need to bide their time before trying again. The worst thing they could do is to condemn everyone living in Maine as homophobes as has been done in California. It will not buy them goodwill.

In the meantime, I suspect that same sex couples in Maine who are eager to marry will travel to neighboring New England states where same sex marriage is legal namely in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and as of January 1, 2010 they can add New Hampshire to the list.

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