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Voices

NO on 1 Leader: We Will Win

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COMMENTARY:

The voices of Maine people speak the loudest for equality and fairness. The No on 1 campaign is in its final hours of work to ensure that the new marriage equality law remains in place and that all Maine families are treated equally under the law.

Throughout the legislative and referendum process, Mainers have spoken eloquently for the rights of our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, friends and coworkers. Listening to those voices, one begins to understand the true meaning of fairness and equality.

The Maine legislature spoke loudly in May, when the same-sex marriage bill's sponsor, Sen. Dennis Damon, said, "The government of the state of Maine has certainly come down on the right side of civil rights, equality, and ending discrimination... Today will stand forever as one of the most historic days in our grand and glorious history."

Gov. John E. Baldacci became the first chief executive to sign a marriage equality bill passed by the legislature, saying, "I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage. It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine's civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government."

Voices all across Maine -- among them families, religious leaders, lawyers, and business leaders -- have been speaking out for equality and fairness.

And from unusual places, like Phillip Spooner, a World War II vet and former Army chaplain, who told the legislature, "Jennie and I did not raise four sons with the idea that three of them would have a certain set of rights, but our gay child would be left out. We raised them all to be hardworking, proud, and loyal Americans. We raised them to believe that everyone is created equal."

From the Reverend Emily Gibson of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in Brewer, who said, "As people of faith, we declare that there are no second-class citizens in the eyes of God, and that the rights many of us take for granted as married people belong to all couples who wish to make a lifelong commitment."

And almost 400 lawyers -- from Kittery to Fort Kent -- who urged voters to reject the ballot measure and support marriage equality. "The central issue... is to make sure that all Maine couples and families are treated equally -- that's what this law does," said Jon Doyle, an Augusta attorney who has practiced law in Maine for 48 years.

Maine's business leaders felt compelled to weigh in as well. "Many businesspeople understand the importance of this issue to the Maine economy," said Valerie Landry, president of Landry & Associates. "Not only is marriage equality fair and just, it is essential to attracting high-wage jobs and talented young people to Maine -- both of which are key to growing and strengthening our economy."

And Maine's two largest newspapers rejected the old lies and distortions so familiar from California's Proposition 8 in strong endorsements for voting no.

From the Portland Press Herald: "Families led by same-sex partners are here now. They are part of our communities and they need and deserve the legal protections -- as well as the dignity -- that comes with civil marriage status."

And from the Bangor Daily News: "This question boils down to a simple point: Everyone must be treated equally under the state and U.S. Constitution. Denying civil marriage rights to same-sex couples violates that tenet."

"Live and let live" is a major tenet for people who work and build their lives in Maine. We respect our neighbors and expect to be treated fairly. We want all people to be treated equally. In Maine, we value and honor all our families. That's what makes Maine such a great place to live.

On Tuesday, Mainers will raise their voices and cast their ballots for fairness and equality for all our families.

Jesse Connolly is the campaign manager for No on 1/Protect Maine Equality.

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