By Leslie Robinson
When our fellow Americans went to the polls a year ago, they spanked us. This election season yet another gay marriage ban was on the docket, this time in Texas, and all indications were Texans would lap up that ban like barbecue.
They did. The margin of victory was appalling. And so it goes, when the rights of a minority are left to the majority.
But not always. Huzza and three cheers for the state of Maine!
Voters there turned back an effort to repeal the new law protecting gays from discrimination in housing, employment and so forth. Not only did Mainers swim against the national anti-gay current, they also overcame their own history of having twice before voted the law off the books. And, by the way, the nondiscrimination law that’s been saved includes transgender folk.
Maine, you’re a peach. I guess, strictly speaking, I should make that a blueberry.
I know just whom to thank. Before the election I, well, meddled. I fired off an e-mail to my friends in the state to urge them to vote properly! As I combed my address book, I realized everyone I was sending the e-mail to was straight. Hmm. How to word this missive?
Though I figured most of my friends would be a) voting, and b) voting correctly, I decided to take nothing for granted. After opening by saying I couldn’t tell them how to vote–which was a complete lie–and pleading with them to let the law stand, I wound up with, “You are all straight folks, and I can understand why this matter might not seem pressing to you. So if it helps, just picture me being refused an apartment because I’m a lesbian. (And then picture me crashing on your couch because I can’t find a place.)”
I’m pleased to say I now have many couches to stay on in the Pine Tree State.
More pertinently, I received strong assurances of “no” votes. Meghan wrote that she and her husband had already decided to vote that way. She added that the whole affair’s only bright spot was the entertainment value of watching “insanely homophobic” Michael Heath, leader of the repeal-spearheading Christian Civic League of Maine. “He is neither Christian, nor civil, nor does he seem to have much of a league anymore as more and more churches are put off by his bizarre behavior.” One of the many reasons I like Meghan–we both take our entertainment where we can find it.
Bobbie answered my e-mail with, “You should know without a doubt that I would vote against discrimination.” Nancy responded, “Of course IÕm going to vote no!”
Carol wrote, “Duh! Of course it is pressing to me as a fair-minded human. I don’t need an unwanted pregnancy to be passionately pro-choice and I don’t need to be gay or black or whatever to be passionately in favor of civil rights. And I don’t have to be inhospitable to be passionately in favor of keeping people off my couch.”
Maybe I can get Carol to write this column for me when I go on vacation.
I deserved those direct responses. I knew my e-mail had run the risk of insulting my friends by not presuming they planned to vote no. But a) some of them I really wasn’t sure about, and b) the stakes were high enough to risk bruising their feelings. And to risk being bruised in return, if anyone responded, “You’ve offended me. Never darken my e-mail again.”
That didn’t happen. To Meghan, Bobbie, Nancy, Carol and Diane, and all the straight Mainers who sided with us, thank you. May Maine’s lobsters be plentiful, the Nor’easters few, and the potatoes bigger than Buicks.
By Leslie Robinson