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Originally published in Compass, October 18, 2012
Election 2012
Local impact of ballot questions: Same-sex marriage

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This series of articles takes a closer look at the bond issues and citizen’s initiative facing voters in November.

Same-sex marriage

The 2012 citizen’s initiative, the first ballot question facing voters this November, asks whether the voter wants the state to be allowed to issue same-sex couples marriage licenses.

Included in the proposed law is a “religious exemption” which says no member of the clergy nor any church will be required to perform or host any marriage ceremony in violation of its religious beliefs. The law expressly forbids lawsuits against religious institutions that choose not to perform same-sex marriages, and protects the tax-exempt status of religious institutions who choose not to perform same-sex marriages.

Bishop Richard Malone of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, released a letter in February articulating the Church’s position against same-sex marriage in Maine, stating that marriage is a sacred bond between one man and one woman.

“Attempting to redefine marriage to include any other kind of relationship empties the term ‘marriage’ of its inherent meaning,” states the letter.

The letter also states that the “common good of all society is vitally dependent on marriage as we know it and has been intended by the Creator from the very beginning.”

The idea that marriage is a public good that improves society is not restricted to those who are opposed to same-sex marriage. Mark Worth, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Castine, thinks marriage “promotes fidelity, commitment and stability.”

“If it’s good for straight couples, it’s also good for gay and lesbian couples,” said Worth.

In September, the UU congregation’s governing board voted to go on record as supporting the freedom to marry, said Worth, who joined Maine’s Religious Coalition Against Discrimination, an organization battling for same-sex marriage.

“Some people argue that marriage is damaged by people wanting to get married,” said Worth. “I think marriage is strengthened by wanting to get married.”