By allowing gays and lesbians to marry just like we allow any two other consenting adults to marry. Marriage, as defined in the law, is a secular institution and contract between two people who wish to share their lives with each other, and provides a slew of legal benefits you simply can’t easily get any other way. Some, such as tax benefits, can’t be received in any other manner. So, if we deny gays and lesbians the right to marry, we deny them the right to a beneficial contract that can enhance their lives in a way no other substitute contract can.
Most opponents of gay marriage laws present their case as protecting their religious freedom and religious institution of marriage. I have some bad news for these people. The government can not and does not regulate the religious institution of marriage, only the secular contract. Gays and lesbians already get married religiously, and there are plenty of religions perfectly happy to perform the ceremony for them. Besides which, while you have the freedom to practice your religion as you see fit (so long as you bring no harm to another), other people have this same religious freedom, including the freedom to allow gays to marry in their services. Furthermore, Maine’s gay marriage law doesn’t force churches to perform marriage ceremonies that go against their religious beliefs. A gay couple will instead simply find a church who supports their marriage, or they’ll be married by a justice of the peace. No infringement of religious freedom is required to provide equal rights to gay couples.
So, to those who would deny the right to marry to gay couples, stop pretending you’re protecting marriage. You aren’t, you’re simply trying to enforce your view of religion on everyone else and deny a group their civil rights. Frankly, I’m tired of hearing this argument that the religious institution of marriage will fail if gays are allowed to marry, and I’m tired of hearing you treat religious marriage and secular marriage as the same thing, because they aren’t. They’re just currently tied a little too closely together in the law.
Stop trying to deny gay and lesbian couples their civil rights. Don’t force your religious beliefs onto others. Instead, learn to live peacefully with your neighbors, and accept them for who they are. We’ll all be better off if we can manage this. So vote no on question 1, and show the state of Maine and the United States that we support marriage, equality, and civil rights by allowing gays to marry.
Note: For reference, this is question 1 in Maine on November 3rd, 2009: “Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?”
Check out some videos on gay marriage in Maine: