As Election Day approaches, more and more Mainers will be talking about marriage for same-sex couples. One of the most common questions that our volunteers and canvassers hear when they talk to voters about this issue is “Why aren’t civil unions enough?”
There are a few reasons why marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples is the only fair and equal choice. The most important is that gay and lesbian couples want to get married for similar reasons as anyone who wants to marry. Same-sex couples want to stand in front of friends and family to make a lifetime commitment to the person they love; to share the joys and the sorrows that life brings; to be a family, and to be able to protect that family.
There have been attempts to create marriage-like relationships, but they don’t work. For example, domestic partnership and civil union laws still don’t qualify a spouse or children for health care coverage that employers only extend through marriage. If a loved one is sick and needs to take time off from work, same-sex couples are not eligible for family leave.
Two of our neighboring states, New Hampshire and Vermont, implemented civil unions but found that they did not meet the needs of same-sex couples and their families. Both states moved on to pass marriage for same-sex couples. Rhode Island passed civil unions a year ago, but fewer than 100 couples have actually obtained a civil union since the law was passed.
Allowing same-sex couples to marry does not change the meaning of marriage. It simply allows same-sex couples to marry the person they love, to establish and protect a family and to make a lifetime commitment in the same way that other couples are able to.
The most rewarding and effective way you can help Maine become the first state to win marriage pro-actively at the polls on November 6 is to talk to people you know about why marriage matters. People who have had the conversation about why marriage matters are TWICE as likely to vote for same-sex marriage. Conversations really do make the difference! The most effective conversations are not based on intellectual arguments, but on an emotional connection with people about why marriage matters to loving, committed same-sex couples.
MPA is proud to be a part of the Mainers United for Marriage coalition, and we are working hard to support passage of Question One in November. Our phone canvass teams have been calling the new voters we registered this summer to talk with them about same-sex marriage. MPA members have been writing letters to the editor and knocking on doors and we will also be helping get out the vote for marriage during late October and early November. To find out how you can support MPA’s work for marriage equality in your part of the state, you can contact MPA Associate Director Amy Halsted at firstname.lastname@example.org.