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Jen Grond/Gauntlet Illustrations

Maine and the fight against gay marriage

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On November 3, voters in Maine overturned their state's same-sex marriage law, joining Californians in sending a stark message to homosexuals: love is not all you need.

The campaign launched against LD 1020, Maine's legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, was successful as a result of its main pillars: 1) Marriage would, under LD 1020, be redefined to include any two consenting adults without regard to gender, and this non-discrimination would allow marriage to become a selfish act as opposed to representing a couple's commitment to bettering society as a whole; 2) the roles of husbands and wives would become irrelevant; 3) marriage laws would cease to consider what is best for children; and 4) we would no longer be able to rely on marriage as a central and common thread in the fabric of society. These preposterous accusations were apparently not only believable, but mobilizing, generating a voter turnout of 50 per cent -- practically unheard of in an off-year election -- and further perpetuating my unfortunate belief that the average citizen is unable to make well-informed decisions.

Although two of the campaign's pillars showcase astounding intellectual incompetence, as marriage is certainly not a selfless act and the roles of husbands and wives are already becoming irrelevant regardless of same-sex marriage, points three and four in the campaign have widespread and troublesome implications. Same-sex marriage's depiction as a destabilizing force harmful to children and destructive to the institution of marriage is not only narrow-minded, but completely unsupported by evidence.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in the Netherlands since 2001, and studies on its impacts have only produced evidence in support of homosexual unions. M.V. Lee Badgett, director of the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law & Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law, and author of When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage, has studied the situation in the Netherlands exhaustively. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Badgett said she was unable to find any evidence that legalizing same-sex marriage produces negative consequences: the trends in marriage and divorce in the Netherlands did not change. The ideas expressed by lesbians and gays about marriage paralleled those of heterosexuals: "Marriage is about the love and commitment of two people who work together as equals, to weather life's ups and downs, become members of each other's extended families, and often (but not always) raise children together." She also observed that Dutch heterosexuals seem to have adapted to the legal change by altering how they view same-sex couples, not how they view marriage: "Now they see gay couples as people who should get married, and they are happy to remind their gay and lesbian family members of that fact."

Regardless of whether gay and lesbian unions produce negative side-effects, voters in Maine are ignoring the fact that the institution of marriage is already unstable. Maine has the second highest divorce rate in the United States, and the United States has the highest rate of any country in the world (Canada is eighth). With approximately half of marriages ending in divorce, it seems that if you don't want homosexuals to be married, your best bet is to allow them to.

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