The path to marriage equality in Maine took a lot of work and rests on the shoulders of active citizens, clergy and politicians.
In 2009, it took no little political courage for the Maine Legislature to pass the marriage equality bill and for Gov. Baldacci to sign it. Those steps involved public hearings that were truly extraordinary.
At that time, no state had passed marriage equality without having a judge act first.
And at that time, public opinion was not what it is now, with national polls showing majority support for gay and lesbian people to marry.
Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell was still in effect.
The president of the United States, Barack Obama, had not endorsed marriage equality.
And in 2009, although the People’s Veto to overturn the law prevailed, the many, many people who worked on the campaign in support of marriage equality gained valuable skills. That campaign and other campaigns around the country learned a lot about how to connect with voters. Knowledge accumulated and fed into an unusual strategy.
The 2012 Maine marriage equality campaign involved an effort that relied on person-to-person contacts and took place over a long time. Authentic interactions took place, very human ones, with listening and hearing and real talk.
And these depended on an excellent campaign organization, involving committed staff and volunteers reaching out to voters on their doorsteps and in their living rooms.
Change happened. But it didn’t just happen.
And here’s a photo from this morning at Bangor City Hall. Before they exchanged wedding vows, James Beckett and Ken Tidd, both in flannel shirts, had a Bangor High School student sing “Over the Rainbow.” They have been together for 21 years.