Election Issues 2009

By Ramona du Houx

October 20th, 2009 

On Thursday the Governor appeared on the MSNBC Rachael Meddow Show and talked about why he supports No on Question 1.

“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions. I came to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.

“The law guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine’s civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government. The law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs. It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of Church and State.

“This is an emotional issue that touches deeply many of our most important ideals and traditions. There are good, earnest and honest people on both sides of the question. I did not come to my decision lightly or in haste. My responsibility as Governor is to uphold the Constitution and do, as best as possible, what is right,” said Governor Baldacci. “I believe that signing the legislation was the right thing to do.”

The event marks the beginning of the NO on 1 Campaign’s Get-Out-the-Vote program with thousands of volunteers all across the state contacting family, friends and neighbors to remind them to vote NO on Question 1.

The Governor recognized the tireless work of campaign volunteers, encouraging them to continue their efforts through November 3. He also recognized several area legislators present at the event and commended them on their thoughtful deliberations of the issue.

Although unable to attend the event, State Senator Chris Rector offered the following comments, “I voted for the marriage equality bill because it was clear that my constituents supported it. I also came to believe that it was the right thing to do for the state of Maine. The law should treat all Mainers equally, it’s that simple. I hope the law the Legislature passed is upheld on Nov 3rd.”

Ray and Connie Winship, retired teachers who live in Fairfield and currently co-chair the Waterville Universalist Unitarian Church Welcoming Congregation Program said their commitment to equality began in 1993.

“We’ve been speaking out all these years and will continue to speak out because we want Maine people to know that discrimination happens and we want them to know how much it hurts the victims and their families,” said Ray Winship. “Let’s prove, once and for all, that Maine won’t discriminate,” added Connie Winship.

Bev and Sue Uhlenhake, who have a one-year-old son, are disheartened by the challenge to the marriage equality law. Both women grew up believing that marriage is the foundation of a family and want that strong foundation for their own family. She believes that the vote is all about children.

“This vote IS about my child. Marriage equality will absolutely affect him. He deserves the right to have parents who are more than legal strangers. He deserves married parents, and that’s what I’m asking my fellow citizens of Maine to make happen today. It is now time to say NO. Say NO to inequality. Say NO to discrimination. Say NO to Question 1,” said Bev Uhlenhake.

According to NO on 1 Campaign manager Jesse Connolly, the Get-Out-the-Vote effort over the next seven days will involve thousands of volunteers across the state who will talk with friends and neighbors, staff phone bank operations, and knock on doors reminding supporters to vote NO on 1 for equality and fairness for all Maine families.

“The key to winning this election is getting our supporters out to vote. This is a true grassroots effort and we continue to be overwhelmed by the level of support and energy,” said Connolly. “Mainers have dug deep, whether that’s manning extra nights at our phone banks, double shifts knocking on doors, or writing another check.”

Article I in the Maine Constitution states that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of that person’s civil rights or be discriminated against.”

An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom abides by Article I.

The current law upholds Maine’s Constitution, while maintaining the integrity of all religious beliefs.

TABOR II Would Harm Maine’s Economy, Businesses, and Families —

Maine’s efforts to improve its business climate and recover from the recession would be hindered if voters adopt the proposed “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” (TABOR) that is on the ballot, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The New York Times wrote an editorial, The Maine Miracle, on how the state was able to lower taxes and balance the budget during the recession, the only state in the nation to do so.

Spending Limits Already in Place —

•    State spending in Maine has already fallen as a share of residents’ income over the last two decades, making TABOR unnecessary. In the last five years spending caps have been put in place for all levels of government.

•    LD 1  prevents excessive spending increases in schools, without the harmful effects of TABOR. In some areas of the state LD 1 has reduced property taxes.

•    TABOR would hinder Maine’s efforts to prepare for future downturns or unexpected fiscal challenges by reducing the amount of funds the state can reserve in its Budget Stabilization Fund.

Undoing school district mergers would cost taxpayers $37 million —

Bureaucracy. That’s where unnecessary expenses mount up with any organization. Until the school consolidation law, Maine’s school administrative district offices have been operating as bureaucracies.

Consolidation of school administrative units has always been about getting rid of antiquated, costly bureaucracies that, year after year, took funds away from educating Maine’s children.

This was money that could have improved science labs, bought books, improved athletic and arts programs, and generally improved the overall educational environment for thousands of students.

Most mergers are finalized. According to the Department of Education, in July 85 percent of the students in the state are enrolled in school systems that meet the requirements of the reorganization law. There has not been enough time to analyze cost savings.

A report by the Maine Legislature’s Office of Fiscal and Program Review said that repealing the consolidation mandate will cost the state $37 million.