MCLU Praises Groundbreaking California Decision on Gay Marriage

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
May 15, 2008 12:00 am

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ACLU of Maine
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PORTLAND, ME – The MCLU applauds the decision of the California Supreme Court, which ruled today that the state may no longer exclude same-sex couples from marriage.

“Today’s decision affirms the core principle that all people should have an equal opportunity to enter into one of the most meaningful personal commitments of their lives,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the MCLU.

A majority of the judges, who prevailed in 4 to 3 ruling, said that the lack of equal marriage rights was a denial of equal protection under the state Constitution. The majority said that the rights and protections of marriage could not be separated from the dignity accorded by the word marriage.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Ron George stated, “Furthermore, in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.”

Maine has also seen progress in ending discrimination. Maine has established a domestic partnership registry. In 2005, Maine voters approved legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, education, and credit on the basis of sexual orientation. Most recently, in 2007, the Maine Supreme Judicial court ruled that unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, may jointly adopt children.

“Maine’s civil rights protections have already made a real difference in the lives of people across the state,” said Zachary Heiden, MCLU Legal Director. “The protections we extend to all people reflect Maine’s best values of fairness and respect for individual liberties.”

Unfortunately, these advances would be reversed by an initiative proposed by Michael Heath of the Christian Civic League. His proposal would repeal non-discrimination protections, eliminate funding for civil rights teams in Maine schools, prohibit adoption by unmarried couples and restate the prohibition on same-sex marriage that already exists in Maine law.

“We will continue to fight for equal treatment for all Maine’s people,” said Bellows. “I am confident that Maine people will firmly reject the politics of fear and discrimination.”

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