By Bangor Daily News
Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?
Mainers have heard a lot in recent weeks about the consequences of allowing same-sex couples to marry, some of it accurate, some of it not. While such debate is healthy, this question boils down to a simple point: Everyone must be treated equally under the state and U.S. Constitution. Denying civil marriage rights to same-sex couples violates that tenet.
Further, extending the right of marriage to a small segment of the population that has been excluded furthers the state's interest in promoting stable families and communities. The Maine legislation also took important steps, mirroring the state's Human Rights Law, to respect religious freedom and traditions. No church will be compelled to perform or recognize marriages that run counter to its faith. This strikes the difficult balance of respecting religious freedom while ensuring equality.
Maine was unusual in passing a law to allow same-sex marriage rather than being required to do so by a court order. Since then, Vermont and New Hampshire have followed suit.
Lawmakers, including Gov. John Baldacci — the first governor to sign such legislation into law — moved Maine toward tolerance and fairness. Repealing this law would move the state backward while denying guaranteed rights to a small minority....(Remainder.)