Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Maine Recognizes Gay Marriage

Maine became the fifth US state to recognize gay marriage today, the second to do so by legislative action rather than a court order. The measure does not go into effect immediately, however, and if opponents gather 55,000 signatures in 90 days--which Maine's Democratic Governor admits is likely--the measure will have to survive a referendum this Fall.

Nevertheless, this is a huge step--especially as the Governor had previously expressed opposition to gay marriage but changed his mind, now saying flatly that a civil union is "not equal" to a civil marriage. New Hamsphire's Democratic Governor will almost certainly be presented with the same choice in a matter of weeks. I hope he follows Maine's governor. New Jersey and New York are next, hopefully later this year.

We are also all waiting for the ruling from the California Supreme Court regarding the final outcome of Proposition 8. But their decision in this case not matter for long. All of the major Democratic candidates for Governor of California next year support gay marriage and want to repeal Proposition 8 in 2010. The passage of Proposition 8 has not discouraged but galvanized supporters of gay marriage. The future looks brighter today.

Thanks, Maine!


Raised By Republicans said...

A significant rhetorical shift has occurred.

"Marriage" is now referred to as "civil marriage." This has the effect of disconnecting it from the role churches play. This is an important recognition of what is really at issue. This issue is not about whether Baptists or Southern Methodists or who ever has to include same sex marriage in their church doctrine and practices. This is about whether a secular state can issue a marriage license with all the rights and responsibilities attached to it.

I think it is high time we separated the concepts of civil marriage which is a potentially secular concept from church marriage. The two are NOT the same thing but the Homophobes have been allowed to frame this issue as if they are the same thing for far too long.

Pombat said...

Woot! (assuming it stays recognised) Go Maine!

RbR: you're spot on with the untangling of civil marriage and religious marriage. I'm not up on the detailed quirks of the laws in the US, but in the UK and Australia, regardless of what your church says (if you have one), you are not married until you have a civil marriage licence from the government. Hammering home this distinction, and leaving the churches with the freedom to be homophobic if they wish, is exactly what's needed.

Almost bizarre isn't it, how tied our thought processes are to our use of language?

The Law Talking Guy said...

The law here is exactly the same: marriage is a state institution that requires a license and a marriage ceremony (declaration of consent in front of witnesses).

The main distinction is who can perform that ceremony. The USA allows any religious minister to do it, all are essentially deputized. UK limits the deputized ministers to the Church of England (not "dissenting" sects like Methodists or Catholics).

The Law Talking Guy said...

I actually don't think there's been a big rhetorical shift. The term 'civil marriage' has been around for a very long time. The distinction from religious marriage has also been clear for a long time, and its salience in American culture came with the rise of divorce in the 1970s, since divorced persons generally (still) cannot remarry within most churches, esp. the Roman Catholic church.

FYI, the official practice of my church is that persons divorced by a civil court may be re-married to other people with the bishop's consent - note the interesting confusion of civil and religious practice here, as there is no "religious" divorce. The actual practice varies by diocese and parish, of course, as we always do: some places generally permit remarriage of divorced persons who are sincere about the new marriage, others do so much more rarely.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I suppose it's no big surprise that the Church of England has been "soft" on divorce for a long time. =)