This is a real disappointment and setback for those of us who support marriage equality. Mainers are pretty independent-minded folk, and it sounded like we were close to a victory. Which makes this a bitter pill to swallow. If Mainers haven't seen that same-sex marriage did not cause an utter moral collapse in their New England neighbors Vermont and Massachusetts, and if they were not touched by the stories of Maine couples and families whose very lives are affected by this law, then we have a lot longer and harder road than I expected. And if Washington - WASHINGTON!! - won this only by a 51-49% vote, then we have a lot more work to do.
And I must also register my disappointment with President Obama for his utter failure to speak one word of support in this struggle. I get that he personally does not support same-sex marriage - well, actually, I don't get his opposition to marriage equality, but whatever. And I continue to have the sense that he is trying to play the "long game," whereby he's looking at the big picture to shape a stronger and more secure victory for our community in the longer term. But if you only look at the big picture, you miss some important details - and that's what I think is going on with Obama. He's happy to miss the details of Maine and Washington, because that suits his own political sensitivities and unwillingness to rock too many boats. Yet he has a responsibility to support justice and equality for all Americans, even if it makes him a little uncomfortable.
And, of course, this makes it far less likely that DADT or DOMA will be repealed in the next few years, unless President Obama takes a stand in supporting their repeal. That, of course, seems very unlikely - I'm not sure how supporting this figures into his long game when supporting Maine equality is not. (Though, Mr. Obama, if you are reading this, I'd be thrilled if you proved me wrong! Seriously, if you are reading this, prove me wrong.) I guess this also means that Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa will have to continue to take the lead on this issue. Which is good for me and for Holy Knit!, because we serve congregations in these states....but it's not so great for the people of Maine or elsewhere.
All this happens in an utterly ridiculous context in which the majority gets to determine the rights of the minority. Since when did it become our civic duty to vote on people's basic civil and human rights? And since when is it a great moral victory to vote to DENY people those rights? Something is seriously skewed in our nation's understanding of what it means to be a democratic republic.