If there is a situation that is begging for a compromise, then it exists in the coming same-sex marriage referendum. We feel that compassion, understanding and consideration are the paramount issues in this referendum. If both sides of the debate give a truly heartfelt reflection on these issues then hopefully a just compromise can be achieved. A sincere understanding of each side’s rightful wants and consideration of values will lead to fairness.
Let us begin with the essential want of the traditional advocates. They want to retain the exclusive ownership of the marriage title. They believe it is their gift; it was ordained for those who are joined in the very foundation that God requires. They want to stress the sacredness and inalterability of the marriage title; a title that holds a deeply ingrained belief. It is the belief that marriage is a union both civilly and sacramentally of one man and one woman.
We as traditional advocates feel this is the only ordained marriage design. However, compassion, understanding and consideration open our hearts to acknowledge and respect the genuine love between two same-gender individuals and their commitment to each other and their relationships. Love between two people, however, is not the prerequisite of the marriage title.
Redefining marriage alters the basic foundation of a two-gender union that is required to merit the ordained marriage title. The marriage title cannot be shared or appropriated simply because it is not ours to share.
The best analogy we can find is the very uniqueness in the relationship of a giver and a receiver of a gift. If we receive a gift from someone who is very dear to us, and we know this gift was made truly exceptional and unique for us alone, then sharing this gift or allowing it to be altered would be a total disregard for the love intent of our giver.
Now, it might be asked here, if the traditional advocates still retain as before their marriage title, then how does sharing the title change it? They cannot allow the marriage title to be redefined and shared without sacrificing the integrity and meaning of marriage for themselves. The title cannot encompass any union that is counter to what they believe should be valued in marriage.
Traditional proponents want to retain the uniqueness and integrity of the marriage title since they are the original and only owners. This should be allowed for the sake of justice and consideration.
In this referendum same-sex marriage advocates are looking to the people of Maine for compassion and understanding to grant them the right to marry with all the marriage entitlements. The privileges of marriage can be available to them under the title of civil unions. Their commitment and love for each other should not be hindered in any way under a title different than marriage. The civil union title could have the same validation to commitment as the marriage title.
Compassion to empathy, understanding to respect and consideration to kindness can all result with a compromise for the benefit of everyone. We believe we can speak for most of the traditional advocates in their wanting compassion, understanding and love to go with the civil union title.
Traditional advocates are also looking for understanding and consideration in their need to hold on to their deeply revered, ordained title.
The coming referendum should bring us all to the very fundamental question of where we stand in our relationship with God and marriage. Our prayer is that we choose the divine foundation of traditional marriage.
Peter Pinette of Woodland is a member of the local Coalition for Marriage Compromise.