Equality and marriage 

The failure of Maine to allow marriage equality is without a doubt an unhappy outcome for its LGBT citizens. Fifty-three percent of the voters successfully took away the rights of their fellow citizens simply because the democratic process in America allows them to do so. It only took a mere 31,909 votes to repeal a new law that would have established full equality for all the citizens of Maine. 

Go west from Maine to the state of Washington, and there the citizens approved of the "everything but marriage" Referendum 71, which expanded the rights of domestic partners. Referendum 71 had its detractors, but the salient fact is that voters there recognized the importance of expanding rights of its citizens, not take them away, as was done in Maine.

Marriage, which technically is a civil contract between two individuals, has been afforded to some LGBT citizens either in this country or elsewhere. Those who have achieved the legal status of marriage know the joy, security and responsibility of their union. They are acutely aware of the importance of the solemn pledges made to one another, validated by friends and family, and most especially recognized by a state or province.

Many LGBT citizens, at least those who want to be married, recognize that it does represent full equality under the Constitution, and I agree.

Fortunately, throughout America, we are seeing more and more where homophobia is declining. This is evidenced by the increasing number of states allowing marriage equality, the passage of the hate crimes bill, LGBT people being elected to various state and local public offices, including quite possibly electing a mayor of a major U.S. city, as well as some states expanding rights of domestic partners. Over time, taking all of these events into account, I see a remarkable positive shift taking place in the struggle for attaining full equality for all citizens of this country.

Even in the face of recent defeats, when considering all that has been achieved over time by LGBT citizens, it is apparent to me that increasing numbers of people from all walks of life are showing the needed moral courage for living and relating to each other as equals. It is my belief that this increasing seriousness and sense of fairness in thought and action will provide the momentum to ultimately bring about full equality for all Americans. 

Outcomes like the one in Maine simply show how fierce heterosexuals are in exercising ownership and total control of the word marriage and all its accompanying social and financial benefits. Having read the U.S. Constitution many times, I have as yet found where it is stated that heterosexuals are the sole proprietors of the word marriage. However, since this country currently permits a specific group to literally own and control a word and all that is attached to it, then I believe I too would like to own a word and all that is attached to it. My word is equality.

"Terri L. Miller-Simms, Oklahoma City

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