I officiated at a wedding in our church recently. The couple was beaming and the guests were excited as the two exchanged vows of fidelity “for as long as you both shall live.”

I offered the blessing of Christ’s church as I’ve done for hundreds of couples over 40 years of ministry — 22 as senior minister here at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, South Portland.

These two dear people are now married — in the eyes of their family, their church, their God — but not by the laws of their state. Maine will not yet recognize their love and commitment because they are both women.

Someday soon, the people of Maine will grant them the same rights as other married couples — in property ownership, health care, tax incentives and more. Someday soon, the people of Maine will realize there is no compelling reason for state law to prohibit same-gender couples from getting a marriage license and joining the ranks of those who want to build loving, faithful households and strengthen their communities.

Religious congregations must remain free to follow their own principles and convictions about who is welcome to receive the rites and sacraments in their own tradition, and whom they believe God blesses. The state must not interfere with our free practice of religion.

Neither should any religious group interfere with the civil rights of their neighbors to enjoy the privileges and responsibilities of marriage. Those who believe marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is wrong — or even “an abomination” — don’t have to bless such unions. But it’s time for a citizens referendum to tell them to get out of the way of those who know marriage equality is a right (and a rite) whose time has come.

The Rev. John B. McCall

South Portland

On reading the ballot wording addressing support for, or not, of same-sex marriage, I have to agree with Marc DeCoste (“Religious views at risk from same-sex ballot,” Sept. 22).

There does seem to me to be an element of trickery, intended or not. There are obviously two separate subjects, requiring two separate questions, requiring two separate answers by voters.

1. Do you support marriage licenses for two people of the same gender?

2. Do you support a law protecting the rights of clergy to refuse officiating at a marriage between two people of the same gender because it would be in violation of their church teaching?

Obviously, so-called “approved” language is unacceptable and needs to be changed to avoid obfuscation and puzzlement about what one’s answer is agreeing or disagreeing to. I’d be interested to know who came up with the wording of that ballot question. Not a good job.

Loretta MacKinnon

Yarmouth

I’ve spent the past six weeks gathering signatures in support of marriage for lesbian and gay Mainers and their families, and I had to write to correct M.D. Harmon’s false idea that the coalition working to win the freedom to marry is facing decreased support (“Catholic bishops sound alarms for people of all faiths,” Oct. 7).

I’ve been gathering signatures in and around the town of Bowdoin, and everywhere I go I’ve been greeted by enthusiastic supporters who are glad to see marriage equality moving forward again. And it’s not just me; volunteers around the state are gathering signatures at a rate that continues to beat our goals.

In addition to our success in gathering signatures, we also had success in Augusta this year, where we protected the Maine Human Rights Act. Also, Mr. Harmon is quick to forget that 61 percent of Mainers voted for a gubernatorial candidate last year who supports marriage for all Mainers.

The fact is that all over Maine and the country, people are changing their minds on marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I’ve seen this as I’ve circulated petitions and talked with hundreds of Mainers, and we’ve seen it in the news as several polls show increased support for allowing loving, committed lesbian and gay couples to marry.

I’m not saying that winning marriage in Maine is going to be easy, but the notion that we’re working toward that goal from a position of political weakness is so far from the truth. While we sadly can’t count on Mr. Harmon’s support yet, it’s his ranks, not ours, that are waning.

Meredith Hunt

Bowdoin

Columnist, governor give reader a good laugh

Thank God for reporters like Bill Nemitz and Brian Williams!

I was in the doctor’s office as I read Nemitz’s Sept. 30 column, “LePage in the headlights.”

I began chuckling at first and then I was laughing out loud. Of course, people were curious around me and asked what was so funny.

I passed the paper around, and soon everyone was chuckling. For a while, everyone forgot their troubles and began to enjoy the moment. Thank you, Bill Nemitz. We all need a good laugh.

Now I suppose I need to thank our governor as well. I’m not thanking him for the laugh, I’m thanking him for exposing himself (yet again) and giving me credibility.

Whenever I’m asked by my friends from out of state to explain his actions regarding the removal of the Department of Labor mural or organized labor, I always seem to be at a disadvantage.

My husband belongs to a union, and we support unions. So I wonder if they feel I am one-sided. I usually walk away feeling like they think I’m making these things up. The governor took care of all of that for me.

Brian Williams got the truth out of him. I have to wonder, is it the mural that is “one-sided,” or rather is it our government?

Art is not to be feared. Governments that ban art are to be feared, or, as in this case, being held hostage.

You just can’t make this stuff up, my friends, you just can’t.

Yvonne Graffam

Gorham