The last few months have been a rollercoaster ride for advocates of marriage equality in the United States. There was the bitter disappointment of Prop 8 passing in California in the 2008 elections, but soon after, it was assuaged in part by victories for marriage equality in Iowa and Vermont. Soon thereafter, Maine and New Hampshire joined the ranks of the states that offer full civil marriage rights to same-sex couples.
The momentum is unquestionably on our side. Every poll ever conducted has found that support for same-sex marriage commands a decisive majority among the younger generation, and grows nationally year by year. The shrill, hateful bigots who use religion as a justification for taking away other people’s human rights, in the long run, are on the losing side of history. There is no doubt that this is true.
But this is no excuse for complacency. Like every successful civil rights movement, we can’t sit back and wait for victory to come to us – we have to work for it, we have to earn it. The harder we work, and the more we give to defend a worthy cause, the sooner the day will come when said religious bigots get the comeuppance they so richly deserve, and when gay and lesbian couples get the full legal equality they so richly deserve.
That’s why I’m calling on every Daylight Atheism reader to support the cause of marriage equality in Maine. Just like in California, religious fundamentalists have put a question on the ballot – Proposition 1 – which, if approved by voters this November, would overturn the legislature’s decision and take away same-sex couples’ right to marry. This initiative is principally sponsored and funded by the Roman Catholic Church and the National Organization for Marriage, a homophobic religious-right group.
However, unlike in California, where defenders of marriage equality were unprepared and disorganized, there’s every sign this time that the good guys are taking this seriously and have geared up to fight back against the forces of religious hate. Groups like Protect Maine Equality are leading the fight against this unjust and malicious proposal.
But victory is far from assured – with the election just weeks away, polls still show the two sides in a statistical dead heat. There’s still a chance for either side to win this. And the cause of equality needs your help!
No matter who you are or where you live, if you’re an American citizen, you can help. If you live in or near Maine, you can volunteer. If you don’t, you can still donate money. And if you can’t afford that, you can talk about it, you can blog about it, you can write letters to the editor or your representatives in office. (These tips for activism courtesy of Greta Christina, who has an eloquent explanation of why this is such a big deal.) Massachusetts, which has had same-sex marriage for years, has the lowest divorce rate in the nation – and falling. Iowans overwhelmingly say that same-sex marriage has made no difference in their lives. These are facts we need to publicize. Stand up, speak out, and make your voice heard!
If we win this fight – if, for the first time ever, same-sex marriage wins in a public referendum – it could be a decisive blow to fundamentalist religious bigots, one that would stop their movement in its tracks once and for all. Maine could be the turning point where we’ll one day be able to say, “That’s where the tide was turned; that’s where the battle for equality was won.” But it will only happen if atheists, freethinkers, and people of conscience band together to oppose the grasping, malevolent theocrats who think their religion gives them the right to force us to live by their rules. We can beat them, but we need your help. Volunteer today and do your part!