Thursday, May 7, 2009

Maine Bishop Responds to Same-Sex Marriage Bill, Repeal Motion Filed

Following Governor John Baldacci's signing of a bill creating same-sex marriage in Maine, Portland Bishop Richard Malone has issued a statement and the state reports an initiative to repeal the bill has been filed.

Bishop Malone's statement:
"I am deeply disappointed in the Maine Legislature and the Governor for making same sex-marriage legal in our state. We believe that the vast majority of Maine's people believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and that calling same-sex relationships marriage doesn't make them so. Marriage as we have known it for millennia has served as the cornerstone of society. The family, consisting of mother, father and children, has served throughout the ages as the natural place for the healthy development of children into well adjusted and productive citizens. Same-sex marriage is a dangerous sociological experiment that I believe will have negative consequences for society as a whole. Children will be taught in schools that same-sex marriage and traditional marriage are simply different expressions of the same thing, and that the logical and consistent understanding that marriage and reproduction are intrinsically linked is no longer valid. These are profound changes that will reverberate throughout society with tragic consequences."

In addition, the Diocese of Portland reports:
The Catholic Diocese in Maine previously declared that it will work closely with a number of partners in bringing this issue to the voters this November.

"Although the details are still being worked out at this time, we can say with certainty that the Portland Diocese will play a lead role in organizing this petition drive to bring the issue before voters," said Marc Mutty of the diocese, who has been working closely in the legislature on this bill. He went on to say that he expected a number of prominent national organizations dedicated to preserving marriage to assist Maine in its efforts to restore traditional marriage to its rightful place.

AP has a story on the repeal initiative, excerpt:
A formal challenge to it has been filed, setting into motion plans for a possible public vote that could be months or more than a year away.

"We're very disappointed," said Steve Ryan of Buxton, who was looking forward to the new law with his partner, Jim Bishop. "We plan to get married as soon as we can. This is going to put our whole life on hold."

Activists on both sides Thursday started working up strategies for campaigns leading up to a possible November referendum under a state constitutional provision known as the people's veto.

"The wheels are turning," Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, Maine's chief election official, said after opponents filed an application that sets the stage for the challenge process ahead.

The deadline for opponents to collect at least 55,087 signatures will probably fall in mid-September, about the time the gay marriage law is due to take effect.

However, the law would be stayed as soon as the signatures are submitted for review by election officials. And the timing of when petitions are turned in will determine whether the referendum can be scheduled for this November or June 2010.

Marc Mutty of the Roman Catholic Diocese said challengers expect to get the go-ahead by May 21 to begin collecting signatures to get a referendum on the bill, which was signed Wednesday by Gov. John Baldacci.

Next stop for the same-sex marriage debate is New Hampshire, where Governor John Lynch has yet to decide whether he'll sign a same-sex marriage bill passed by the legislature there.