December 8, 2012

Our View: City right to open early for same-sex marriages

Couples who have been waiting all their lives to be married shouldn't have to wait any longer.

People don't usually look forward to lining up at City Hall, but this Dec. 28 will be different.

click image to enlarge

Ellie MacCallum, left, of Windham receives a kiss from her partner, Judy Eycleshymer after they learned same sex marriage had passed while at the Mainers United for Marriage party at the Holiday Inn by the Bay Tuesday, Nov. 6. Marriage licenses for same-sex couples in Maine could be issued beginning Dec. 29. The Portland city clerk's office will open at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 29 to issue licenses.

Press Herald file photo/Gabe Souza

That's because when the clock strikes 12:01 and the calendar turns to Dec. 29, the doors of the city clerk's office will swing open and same-sex couples from Maine will be issued marriage licenses for the first time.

These are not ordinary office hours, but this is not an ordinary occasion. These couples have been waiting all their lives for their relationships to be treated equally under the law, and telling them to wait until regular office hours on Monday, Dec. 31, is two days too long.

Congratulations to the Portland officials who recognized the historical moment and seized it. This is an enormously important day for a significant number of the city's residents. It's also an important moment in the history of civil rights in America.

It was just a dozen years ago when the Vermont Supreme Court gave same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples. Since then 10 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the unions, but until this November all were done through the courts or by legislative action.

It had been a different story at the polls, however. Since the Vermont decision, 30 state votes, including Maine's in 2009, rejected marriage equality.

But all that changed in November. Same-sex marriage was on the ballot in Maine, Maryland and Washington, and voters in all three states simultaneously said "yes" for the first time. In Minnesota, voters struck down a state constitutional amendment that would have prevented the state from passing a same-sex marriage law.

The favorable action by four states on the same day shows that this vote was no fluke. Attitudes are changing all across the country and, with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to take up two same-sex marriage cases next year, there's hope this momentum could carry the change even further.

The change is happening quickly, but it is long overdue. For the people who have endured years of legal discrimination it can't come too soon.

Portland is right to celebrate this historic moment.

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)