Thanks for the kind words, friend. I really wasn't so worried about the gay marriage vote -- I went to the rallies and did some phone banking, gave some money, had the bumper stickers on my car, but I was pretty confident it would pass. The legislature did the right thing, and our governor got over his qualms and got on board, and that's what it's all about, right? We're a republic. We elect people and empower them to make the laws for all of us, right? Plus Maine has had a few of these kinds of referendums (referenda?) before, where we were invited to vote against gay rights and we did not do so. I was not too worried that we would lose this one.
Since gay marriage got voted down I've been trying to come up with kindhearted ways to explain it to myself. I get, although I do not agree with, the concept of marriage as a particular social institution that's mostly about paternity of children and the allocation of property, and the associated rights and responsibilities. I get the idea that maybe the state shouldn't be involved in that anyhow, for anybody, and just because it is already tangled up to some degree isn't any reason to expand the state's involvement in domestic arrangements. I can understand how some people would think the state should have no involvement with anyone's marriage. I get how somebody who's a stickler but not a bad human being might get nitpicky about changing the definition of a word that has had one social meaning for thousands of years, although it starts to get hard for me to imagine someone like that believing the semantics are more important than the desires and hopes of real-life people. I can play this game for only a few moments before my heart starts to sink. I can imagine a few people with these motivations, but it doesn't explain the numbers. Some Mainers must have shown up to vote against gay marriage because they don't realize they know and love gay people. That's the best I can do. The alternative is worse; people showed up to vote against gay marriage because they think that they don't like, don't trust, and don't respect gay people. This breaks my heart. I really do love my state. I like to believe that the people who live here are sensible and kind. I'm having trouble holding on to that confidence.
I've never liked the fact that in this state any lunkhead with a clipboard and some time on his hands can gather signatures and force things to a vote. We're not supposed to be a democracy. It's cumbersome and expensive to vote on everything. Not to mention all that stuff we learned way back in grade school -- the stuff about factions and the rights of minorities. It was Federalist # 10, yes? You can't trust the big group to protect the rights of the smaller group if you just put every single issue to a majority vote. I'm really mad that we did it right here in Maine. We people convinced the legislators. They did what they are supposed to do -- they debated and they had a hearing and they heard testimony and they voted, and the Governor, a Catholic who started out against gay rights but was willing to listen and learn, he signed it into law. That's how it goes in a republic.
I'm trying not to become a crank, but the part of me that is mad and sad and disappointed is fixating on the referendum process. I don't know how to change people's minds, or how to hold on to my belief that the people in this state are a pretty accepting bunch. It seems more clear how to tinker with the mechanism of what gets put in front of the voters, and right now it seems to me that that process is broken.