While the media attention is focused in Prop 8 in California, the issue of same-sex marriage is live on other States. There is good news from Maine as a Democratic Senator Dennis Damon has introduced a Bill entitled “”An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedoms” which would legalise same-sex marriages in Maine.
The Bill is interesting in a number of regards:
- Maine already allows citizens to enter into same-sex Domestic Partnerships. We keep saying that the UK’s Civil Partnerships are discriminatory and that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. The discrimination inherent in disallowing same-sex marriage is amply shown in Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services document describing Domstic Arrangements:
- The Bill recognises that allowing same-sex marriage is a matter of religious freedom. LGBT couples should have the same legal rights as all other couples.
- The Bill could set Maine on a collision course with Obama who has gone from being pro-same sex marriage in 2004, to being neutral in 2006 but has recently said that he would resist efforts to change Federal Law to legalise same-sex marriages, favouring instead Domestic Arrangements – like those in Maine that fall far short of being able to marry in church and enjoy full legal status as a couple.
It is important to remember that a registered domestic partnership is NOT the same as a marriage and does not entitle partners to rights other than those for which the registry was intended. This registry is intended to allow individuals to have rights of inheritance as well as the rights to make decisions regarding disposal of their deceased partners remains.
For instance, a Domestic Arrangement is terminated automatically if either partner marries.
The issue of same-sex marriage is an important one for many trans people – partly because it is estimated that only 1/3 of MTFs are straight, because they may already be in a marriage when they start to transition, and because of difficulties in getting their change of gender recognise in a timely and complete manner. It’s something I will continue to report upon so I have decided to add a new category of Marriage, although won’t go back and re-tag previous posts.