Share Your Story

When we started talking about marriage equality, we were saddened to find that many of our friends and neighbors in northern Aroostook County were shy about sharing their own stories and beliefs publicly. We grew up in small towns (Kate right here in New Sweden), and we felt that this fear did not represent the Maine that we knew and loved.

We started “The M word” to offer a safe space for everyone who supports marriage equality to share YOUR story – no matter who you are, where you live, what your sexuality or marital status is, or how comfortable you are being “out” about your opinions and experiences. This is your place to say why marriage equality matters to you, and why marriage equality matters to Maine.

Please note that this site is not intended as political propaganda or a debate on same-sex marriage, but as a place for neighbors to share their stories. The site will be moderated, and we ask that you post your positive story of “Why marriage equality matters to ME” below under the comments section. You can post with your full name, your initials, anonymously, or any way at all — please include your town in your comment, so others can see that marriage equality has supporters all across Maine.

Click on the “Comments” link to share your story. While you’re there, you can read our story and personal stories from other marriage equality supporters. Enjoy!

13 Responses to “Share Your Story”

  1. Erica & Kate Says:

    (Submitted as a letter to the editor to Aroostook newspapers, 3/13/09)

    This year is our 10th anniversary. Actually, it’s our 10th, 6th, and 5th anniversary. In 1999, we had a wedding in our church in front of friends and family. In 2003, when Maine introduced a statewide domestic partnership registry, we enrolled as domestic partners. We felt it was important symbolically, even if it granted us very few rights, most of them only applicable when we die. In 2004, when same-sex marriage was made legal in Erica’s home state of Massachusetts, we received our marriage certificate and were legally married.

    However, because we are two women, our home state of Maine does not recognize our marriage. Recently, Senator Dennis Damon, along with more than 60 co-sponsors from both political parties, introduced a bill in the Maine legislature to end this discrimination.

    What discrimination do we face, and why does marriage equality matter to us? As children growing up with the Maine ethics of fairness and live-and-let-live, we were fortunate to have full acceptance from our families, friends, schoolmates, and communities. Our parents and grandparents taught us that love is precious, and when you find it, you hang onto it. They also taught us that all people were created equal, and we believed them.

    However, when we started our life together as adults in 1999, at ages 21 and 22, we learned that not all people are treated equal. Because our marriage is not recognized in Maine, we pay hundreds of dollars more for health care, because even though our employers offer domestic partner health insurance, the health benefits of non-married partners are fully taxable. In today’s economy, with the rising costs of health care, discrimination is a luxury we cannot afford.

    When we file our taxes, we must currently file “single,” even though we are legally married. If one of us dies first, or if we become disabled, unemployed, or face a family economic crisis, our relationship currently means nothing to our state. Despite all our efforts to legalize our relationship, we would not be eligible to receive each other’s Social Security, SSDI, or be considered as spouses for other state and federal benefits. Ironically, since we are legally married in Massachusetts but not recognized as married in Maine, we would be unable to divorce in our home state — so at this rate, we’re likely to be an old married couple for sure!

    We feel that 10 years is enough. We have proven our commitment over and over, to our community and to our government, and it is time to fully recognize all Maine families. Decades of racial segregation in U.S. history and ethnic/linguistic discrimination right here in Aroostook County have shown that separate is never equal. That’s why we think the time is now for marriage equality in Maine.

    Thanks for sharing our story — and please post your own story below!

    Erica and Kate Quin-Easter
    Stockholm, Maine

  2. Suzanne Senechal-Jandreau Says:

    Raising two daughters and teaching them the importance of equality means inclusivity – in every way, shape and form. Denying the institution of marriage to any loving and committed couple, and the subsequent benefits of the same, is unacceptable if we stand on the ground of equality. I believe that it is time that we support marriage for same sex couples in our state!

    Suzanne Senechal-Jandreau
    Caribou, Maine

  3. Lara Cannon Says:

    Thank you Erica and Kate for the invitation to share my thoughts on the subject of gay marriage. Frankly, It is difficult for me to understand arguments against it. Denying the legal rights and benefits of marriage to committed and loving adults is a violation of our constitutional commitment to equality as Americans.

    Committed marriages provide social stability to our society, gay or straight. Denying those rights based on prejudice and ignorance will hopefully become a thing of the past–sooner rather than later.

    We enjoying having friends and family members who are gay. Sexual orientation is only a piece of who they are and should never be a reason for discrimination or complete a definition of any individual.

    Lara Cannon
    Presque Isle, Maine

  4. Kitty Ellyson Says:

    I am a divorced woman. Not that this is any great shakes but why on earth should I have any more or less right to be married and divorced than my dear friends Kate and Erica who have actually managed to make it work all these years? It makes no sense to me. The decision to get married carries tremendous psychological and emotional meaning as well as legal clout. If domestic partnership felt like enough then marriage would be a thing of the past for heterosexual couples. As it is, I’m guessing 50% of all movies have a wedding in them somewhere (I totally made that up). We are still culturally attached, deeply, to the concept of legal marriage.

    When my ex and I decided to get married our home state VT was wildly debating whether or not to allow Civil Unions. We decided that if it did not pass we would still have the ceremony but we were not going to get legally married in solidarity with our friends and neighbors. This was a hugely painful choice for me because I felt strongly about being legally married – I wanted all the pomp and rights and responsibilities of a “real” marriage. Nevertheless it was obvious that we couldn’t partake of an institution to which others were not welcome. Luckily, the Civil Unions bill passed and I was legally married and later, legally divorced as should be my right as an adult and a citizen of this country regardless of which other human being I chose to be married to.

    I wonder what would happen if we all chose to stop participating in an institution that has become so corrupt? What if all couples boycotted legal marriage until all couples could be legally married? I wouldn’t join a club that didn’t allow people of color, why would I join a club that didn’t allow my friends Kate and Erica? I love my new state and hope to live here for a long, long time. Let’s be leaders in this just as Mainers were leaders in abolishing slavery.

    Kitty Ellyson – South Portland, Maine

  5. AP Says:

    Marriage equality doesn’t really matter to most people in this county, that is, until it affects someone you know and love. This is the way with most things, I suppose. But once you are aware of discrimination and how it changes your loved ones daily lives, you can’t just let it be anymore. If nobody says it how it is, others may not even think twice about it. I appreciate when people step up for something they believe in. It’s not easy to do that.

    When two people can make the commitment it takes for marriage, why does it matter what sex they are? Just seems to me that if a couple is willing to enter this institution then they should have the right to do so, and they should have the support it takes from the community to make that successful. Families come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors these days. What matters most in all of this is pretty obvious to me – it’s love and the attempt to do what is right.

    While Aroostook county and Maine is full of caring and kind people, there are others who are afraid of the unknown, afraid of change and anything that is outside of thier own personal sphere of existence. With broadened awareness, things must change.

    Caribou, ME

  6. joanne Says:

    I’m a 56-year old heterosexual woman who has been married to the same man since 1976. I support marriage equality for the plain and simple reason that IT’S FAIR. Love and commitment are the important aspects of a long-term relationship, no matter what the gender of the partners.

    Fort Kent, ME

  7. HJL Says:

    Having just lost my partner last month, and wading through the credit cards and internet service and whatnot to be canceled (we did not live together but considered ourselves partners in every sense of the word) I came to realize how difficult it is to not have the official designation of “marriage” to be able to make the decisions needed when a loved one dies. I support marriage equality for any couple who wishes to make their relationship legal in the eyes of the law, and for them to receive the benefits granted to married people. My partner and I agreed that we didn’t want to be married for many reasons, but that was our choice. And everyone, gay or straight, should have a choice about whether they want to be married. Thank you Erica and Kate for giving me the opportunity to voice my support.

    Hildie
    Wayne, ME

  8. Audrey Says:

    Well, in response to Erica’s invitation, here is my story and some thoughts on why marriage equality matters to ME….Boycotting a corrupt institution like marriage is exactly what I and my partner (heterosexual) did for 23 years. Marriage, as far as the state is concerned–both historically and currently–is about property. For a long time, women were the property of primary concern in marriage. My relationship with my partner was of a spiritual & soulful nature, and I reasoned, the state had no business in my spiritual affairs. We created a written agreement for division of property in the event that we decided to split up, and we stated our vows in that same document–which consisted primarily of vowing to communicate honestly and respectfully to the other especially about any serious discontent that arose. Our eschewal of marriage tore the hearts of some family members for whom the institution is such a powerful, emotional touchstone. And for many years this stand also cost us more money in taxes and health benefits.

    Then as we reached middle age and began to think of how we would take care of each other into old age, we decided we should marry for the piece of paper that would allow the other to receive Social Security benefits if something should happen to one of us. We weren’t independently wealthy; we were a family of modest means, not even well-financed with insurance policies and such. A marriage certificate gave us access to the security we had been paying into for all of our adult working lives. We also had a child whose upraising was a part of our lives, and part of our responsibility. So we married in 2007. As it happened, my husband, my marriage partner, companion, friend, soulmate, and father of my child–died unexpectedly in 2008.

    I think marriage equality is an issue of justice and fairness whose time has come in our state and nation’s history. I would want that two people of the same sex who professed their love of each other, committed to care for each other and chose to build their lives together–wanted to be “married”–could enter into a formal union and be assured of access to the same legal rights as I have had in this last year of love and marriage, for better or for worse. The right to be at the side of their partner in sickness and the dying process, to be dealt with by medical professionals as the partner they are without question. The right to share the social security benefits they have paid into. The right to shared ownership of property (unquestioned) acquired during the marriage. When I think of all my friends who are in same sex couples, I don’t want them to be penalized in many legal matters that arise through living in the USA in 2009. Fixing these rights in law under the institution of marriage would ensure that they can participate if they choose.

    Houlton, ME

  9. Wendy Riopelle Says:

    Hi Erica and Kate,

    You two are such a great couple in so many ways. Legalizing same-sex marriage in the state of Maine would give so many the same opportunities my husband and I have. We are able to have shared health benefits, we can file our taxes as a married couple, shared car insurance, household bills, retirement, disability and on and on, whereas same-sex marriages aren’t offered these privileges. I support you girls and all same-sex couples here in the state of Maine. You deserve the same rights that David, I and all other married couples are entitled to.

    Mars Hill, ME

  10. Eric Norton Says:

    Homosexuality has been around throughout all of human history. It has always been here and it will always be here. Its about time that people finally figured that out and started to treat it as the perfectly natural thing that it is. Homosexual couples have already shown that they can have relationships that are just as deep, meaningful, and committed as heterosexuals. There is no legitimate reason to allow heterosexuals to marry and say that homosexuals can’t.

    I’ve long believed that there is one main reason that members of the religious-right choose to portray homosexuality as so sinful while simultaneously ignoring most of the rest of their bible. The fact of the matter is, its probably one of the few sins in their religion that most of them haven’t already committed or been tempted to commit. Thus, its one “sin” that they can shout about without experiencing the constant nagging pang of hypocrisy.

    Its way past time that people stopped trying to make our society operate by a bunch of rules that were created by bronze-age desert nomads. The fact of the matter is that its OK to eat shell-fish (despite what Lev 11 says), its OK to wear clothing that contains two different types of fabric (despite what Lev 19 says), and its OK for people of the same sex to be in love with each other (despite what Lev 20 says).

    If you are a person that believes that a religion should be based on love and common sense rather than dogma and sanctimonious bigotry, feel free to stop by your local Unitarian-Universalist church. Our church believes in civil rights for all people.

    Caribou, ME

  11. Cathy Plourde Says:

    I personally struggle with the lack of separation between church and stat when it comes to marriage. But, I struggle even more to understand what makes people so vehemently opposed to allowing this institution be equal opportunity. The issues are strong: A child’s adoption. A medical decision. A will. Health coverage. Safety. Security. Really, it’s not a lot to ask. It’s time to fix this.

    Portland, ME

  12. Sarah McLean Says:

    Marriage is such an important institution in our country, even if we do have so many divorces. It is so important because it gives us rights and privileges to protect ourselves and our partners in areas of economics, politics, and it legitimizes heterosexuality.

    Marriage equality will allow all of us to share these rights and privileges, and will also proclaim that we will no longer allow any kind of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    Caribou, ME

  13. Jessica and Brecke Says:

    Well. Finally a place to speak our minds. I think that most of us can agree that life now days is hard. So why with all the mishaps going on is gay marriage so important? Well, let me take you on a little stroll through my life for a minute.

    I have been in a gay relationship for almost 3 years. My partner and I both work and live a very normal healthy loving lifestyle. We do groceries, clean our house, pay bills, and watch tv at times to relax. Wow, right …. If you didn’t know we were gay you would say it sounds just like a regular heterosexual relationship. We also have 3 kids that we raise as well. They are my children from previous relationships. My partner chooses to love our kids as her own. She spends time with them, does homework with them, she kisses and hugs them. She is their other mother. She works long ours to provide our children with everything they need and more. They are loved unconditionally by my partner. I don’t think she could love them more unless she would have given birth to them.

    Here is the problem: She has no legal say over them. She can’t sign medical documents for them to get treatment in regular appointments or even an emergency. My partner can’t go in my place to school meetings. She makes more money then I do, and provides more for my children then I do, and yet she can’t claim them on her taxes. That money may not mean much for some people, but to my kids that money helps. My partner can’t get any medical for them. This doesn’t even hit the fact of what would happen if I were to pass away. She would have no rights to even visit the kids that she has been raising. How is this fair?

    A marriage is about making a family circle whole. It is for the better financially, as well as stability. We as a couple already feel married. I will never need permission from anyone to commit myself to whom I love. But for her to take care of me and my children and not be protected, for my family not to have protection, isn’t right.

    We have beliefs in God. He was the ultimate being who made her so perfect for me and my family. He created her life to make mine complete. So aside from religion being the number one argument, which is completely against the right to practice whatever religion I want, the only other factor is the fact that people think about what is going on behind my bedroom door, in my own private space. Lets make something clear, I don’t want to think about what is going on behind someone’s door anymore then they want to think about mine.

    So what is the problem? Why is it such an issue that people have the same rights to be protected as everyone else. The fact that the state and government is discriminating the very people who support it to begin with. The same people who pay taxes, and work for it, the same people who want to be able to attend church and not feel like they are being judged, the same people who live next door to you. The people who are police officers, teachers, lawyers, counselors, sales people and on and on and on. Gay people are everywhere. They may be the person sitting next to you that you have been talking to for the last hour and not have a clue. We are people, human beings. Not some distorted creature. We have the right to love. Marriage is about commitment and responsibility. Everyone should have the right to marry who they want. I just want the right to be able to choose if I want to marry this person or not, instead of being told it’s not even a possibility.

    Jessica and Brecke Monaghan
    Caribou, ME

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