While Maine's marriage equality supporters regroup after last Tuesday's defeat, the staff at Connecticut's marriage equality advocacy group Love Makes a Family prepares to douse their lights forever.
In May, Maine legislators voted in favor of same-sex marriage and the governor quickly signed the bill into law, but voters executed a people's veto and rescinded marriage equality. The vote-- pushed onto the ballot in no small part by our old friends at the National Organization for Marriage-- gives Maine the dubious honor of being the second state in the union to recently play now-you-have-it, now-you-don't with gay and lesbian rights. California pulled back on its promise of equality with Proposition 8 last year.
In both states, the battles were emotional and heartfelt-- and fraught with misinformation. Opponents of same-sex marriage on both coasts trotted out that tired canard that marriage equality would include lessons about homosexuality in schools, thereby turning into homosexuals a sea of children just waiting for their teachers' permission.
Just five states-- Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut-- recognize same-sex marriage. Here in Connecticut, a 2008 state Supreme Court decision stands without any serious threat-- so much so that Love Makes a Family is closing its doors. A volunteer-run (and separate) political action committee will remain, and Carol Buckheit, executive director since the founder stepped down in June, will stay a while longer to clean up a few last details. Other staff members have moved on to other endeavors.
One is working in AIDS policy.
Another-- note to those who fear a gay agenda in schools!-- left to be a teacher.
Buckheit enrolled in a language immersion course in Costa Rica. She wants to learn Spanish.
The organization's records will go to Yale University so that subsequent generations can see how the battle was won.
And it was won. In April, Connecticut legislators codified the court decision, and Gov. M. Jodi Rell-- who said all along she opposed same-sex marriage-- signed it. The question of a constitutional convention that was a not-so-veiled attempt to overthrow the court's decision was decisively shot down by Connecticut voters last November.
Meanwhile, Buckheit has the state's most recent figures for same-sex marriages-- 1,746 from Nov. 12 of last year through June. The state's still counting all those summer weddings, said Buckheit, but that's 3,492 adults who plighted their troth while the rest of us stopped a moment, threw some rice, and then went about our business.
And that's part of the point, isn't it? That life has gone on?
Ah, but so does the battle. It goes on until we don't have to argue this about any more, anywhere. Maine's vote was disappointing, but we are on the march to inevitability. One day, marriage equality will be the law of our land. We'll look back on Maine's decision the way we look back on every other stumble along the road to equality: Remember when gays and lesbians couldn't get married? Those were the bad old days, indeed.