The image of a straight couple holding
their young son – all three bright and blond – graces the home
page of the Maine
Marriage Initiative website, which is devoted to opposing a newly
introduced gay marriage bill in the Maine Legislature.
“Families should be strengthened ...
not redefined,” the text reads.
The newly-launched website urges
visitors to contact their legislators, join their Facebook social
group, and offers information about the gay marriage bill.
At a press conference last month,
Democratic Senator Dennis S. Damon announced that he would introduce
the gay marriage bill surrounded by members of several prominent gay
groups – including Equality Maine, the Maine Civil Liberties Union,
Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and the Maine Women's Lobby
– and gay and lesbian couples wishing to marry.
Maine lawmakers passed a bill in 2004
to extend domestic partnerships to both gay and straight couples,
putting the state in the category of states that offer some legal
protections to gay and lesbian couples.
The state's registry grants few
guaranteed protections beyond estate planning, but gives gay couples
a legal footing when asking for benefits from the private sector.
The website shies away from listing
who's behind the group, but a Maine
Politics posting points to James Dobson's Colorado
Springs-based Focus on the Family and the Portland Catholic Diocese.
The Maine Family Policy Council, which
is backed by Focus on the Family, is organizing a Sunday rally to
protest the gay marriage bill at the Augusta Civic Center. Tony
Perkins, who heads the anti-gay Family Research Council in
Washington, DC, is expected to speak at the event.
Also apposing the bill is the
Republican Project, a grassroots group committed to returning the
Republican Party “to its traditional core values and proven
conservative governance policies.”
“The Maine state Republican Party
platform is quite clear on this issue,” said Maine Republican
Project CEO Dean Scontras, who lost his Republican primary bid for a
Congressional seat last year. “So are the tenets of the Republican
Project. Therefore, we will work at a grassroots level, through our
electronic medium and within our membership, to work against Senator
Opponents in the Legislature have
introduced conflicting bills aimed at derailing gay marriage in
Representative Josh Tardy, the state's
House Republican Leader, has announced he will introduce legislation
this session that would restrict marriage to a heterosexual union by
altering the state's constitution. Thirty states have banned gay
marriage in this way, including California, Arizona and Florida on
But Republican Rep. Les Fossel is
attempting a different approach: He is sponsoring a bill that expands
the state's domestic partner registry.
Fossel says Damon's gay marriage bill
is too emotionally charged, saying he would prefer to find “a
“We don't need a hot, divisive debate
with siege guns,” he said. “Democracy is all about finding a
middle ground. This bill might not be perfect for everyone, but it
is the only bill with a chance of succeeding without immediately
triggering a referendum to repeal.”
Gay activists are pushing a six state
strategy to win gay marriage for the entire New England region.
Legislation to provide for gay marriage is being introduced this year
in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island. Gay and lesbian
couples can currently marry in Massachusetts and Connecticut.