What exactly do we think we are doing in our country? We speak of democratic values, of equality under the law, and then we create ballot referendums that put to a popular vote the rights of a minority of people. We vote on whether people who are already committed to one another, already paying taxes, already contributing to the community, and in some cases already raising children, can legally be married to one another and enjoy the rights and privileges that accompany that status.
The whole notion of putting the rights of a minority up to a vote of the majority, as was done most recently in Maine, and has been done previously in California and other states, is patently undemocratic and contrary to the Constitution of the United States.
The election results in Maine are the most recent defeat for marriage equality, but the struggle is hardly over. One day in the not-too-distant future same-sex couples will enjoy the same freedoms, rights, and responsibilities as any other married couples. It isn’t a question of if but when. That is because it is a matter of social justice, human dignity, and civil equality, and nothing will stop that train. In Maine, the voters overturned by a slim margin a law passed in the legislature and signed by the governor. The real news is not this narrow defeat but the fact that human and civil rights are put to a popular vote in the first place. These are matters that deserve the involvement of the justice system to protect minority rights, and honest debate within the deliberative bodies of those we elect to serve the whole people and the common good.
Some claim to be protecting marriage, while attacking same-sex couples with faulty logic and lies. The voices of fear, prejudice, and intolerance may win the small victories along the way, but eventually the voices of reason and fairness will prevail. A day will come when this great land will live up to its cherished ideal of equality for all citizens. It may not be today, tomorrow, or next week, but I have no doubt that all God’s children will one day be equally treated and recognized in matters of marriage, family, and love.
On that day, today’s sorrow will be replaced with joy.