Editor’s Note: This editorial is updated from a version that ran in the Journal Tribune in November. With the recent push for gay marriage laws in Maine, the Editorial Board felt it applicable to update it and share it again with you:

In every state in the nation, same-sex couples grow old together, paying off mortgages, living useful lives and coping with life’s problems ”“ as long as they both shall live.

Long-lasting same-sex relationships are all around us, and very few of us are inclined to make outcasts of friends, neighbors or family on this account. As we have always been taught, relationships go a lot deeper than sex.

That’s why we see no rational reason for withholding marriage from gay couples, and we join other advocates for change in the Pinetree State.

Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts all allow gay marriage and it is time for Maine to help lead the way in promoting equality.

Maine, along with Washington, Oregon and Hawaii, currently has a domestic partnership law that gives gay couples some, but not all of the rights of marriage. New Hampshire and New Jersey have made a similar compromise by allowing civil unions.  These states hope they can get away with supporting gay relationships, without fully recognizing them.

The idea that there should be no discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation is now widely supported. Fortunately, there is more tolerance today than in the past, and even the California backers of Proposition 8 felt it was important to misleadingly claim that they did not intend to take any rights away from gay couples.

But equality does not really exist if same-sex partners and their children cannot count on the acceptance, respect and benefits that are accorded to traditional households. That’s why courts have found civil marriage restrictions unconstitutional.

We don’t believe that most of those concerned with “protecting” traditional marriage want to deprive their friends and neighbors of rights ”“ though it’s not exactly clear what they do want. We think this is a fight that has been stirred up by those promoting the idea that America is in the middle of a great moral and religious struggle.

Perhaps that notion will soon fade away. Protecting marriage is an issue that many people are willing to sign up for, but interest may eventually wane when members of the rank-and-file realize that marriage is in no danger at all.

— Questions? Comments? Contact Publisher Drew McMullin by calling 282-1535, Ext. 332, or at [email protected], or Managing Editor Nick Cowenhoven by calling 282-1535, Ext. 327, or at [email protected].