BREWER, Maine — Kirk and Veronica Storman have four daughters under age 10 and a fifth child due in November. Family, school and church activities take up all of their free time.
They don’t think of themselves as political activists. But when a bill was introduced in the Legislature earlier this year that would allow same-sex couples to marry, the Stormans felt they could not remain silent.
“We believe strongly that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Veronica Storman, 26, said this week. “We’re doing this because of our kids, because we are raising them in a Christian home.”
Kirk Storman, 35, said the same-sex marriage debate in Maine is a small piece of a national trend toward secularization of society. He pointed to the ban on prayer in schools, the teaching of the theory of evolution, and sex education classes that do not emphasize abstinence as examples of the way the country has moved away from the “biblical principles of the Founding Fathers.”
They were not able to attend the hearing Wednesday before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee at the Augusta Civic Center on LD 1020. It would change state law to define marriage as between two people rather than between a man and a woman.
The committee also heard testimony on LD 1118, which would extend the rights and benefits of marriage to people on the Domestic Partner Registry.
Not ‘gay haters’
Veronica Storman said she had signed a petition opposing the bills and supporting traditional marriage at their church, Bangor Baptist Church. The petition was circulated by the Maine Marriage Initiative, a coalition of religious and secular groups and individuals dedicated to preserving traditional marriage in Maine.
“We do not want to be portrayed as gay haters,” Kirk Storman said. “When politics and religion are involved, the debate can get heated, but we should be able to discuss issues humanely.”
His wife agreed.
“We are not judging anybody else,” she said. “God says to love thy neighbor. To do that, we don’t have to agree that same-sex marriage should be legalized.”
Veronica Storman was born in New Jersey but moved to Dexter when she was 10. Her husband was born and raised in Old Town. The Stormans were married in October 2007 after her neighbor, who was an old friend of her husband, introduced them. Both are divorced from their first spouses and are raising a blended family.
Without giving details about his and his wife’s previous relationships, he said that biblical teachings do not condone divorce but do allow for it in certain circumstances.
“God does not ordain that a person should stay in a marriage if he or she is being physically abused or if one person has committed adultery,” Kirk Storman said.
His wife said she is concerned that if same-sex marriage is legalized, their children would be taught at school that homosexuality and gay marriage are acceptable while learning at home and in church that traditional marriage is part of God’s plan for humanity.
“I don’t believe we should stand on the sidelines [in this debate] or let this legislation be passed without our voices being heard,” Veronica Storman said, explaining why she agreed to be very public about her family’s views on traditional marriage.
Marriage ‘a vocation’
John and Jean Barry of Bangor agree.
Jean Barry, 57, does think of herself as an activist and is well-known for her work in the group Maine Right-to-Life. She testified Wednesday against LD 1020. The Catholic mother of five called marriage “a vocation” and told legislators that the bill “redefines marriage in a way that destroys the concept of marriage altogether.”
She said Thursday that her educational background is in science and that traditional marriage is rooted not only in God’s law but also in natural law.
“I believe you can come to these truths and understandings apart from religion,” she said, “although my religion is very foundational for me and helped form my moral values and my conscience.”
The Barrys, who have been married for 25 years, met through work in Philadelphia, where they lived for many years. They returned to Bangor, John Barry’s hometown, in 1999 to escape the crime and social problems of the big city. They are communicants at St. John Catholic Church.
“We’re taught as Christians that marriage is a sacrament instituted by God,” John Barry, 61, said Thursday, “so only God can change the parameters of marriage.”
He also said that the economic benefits of marriage — which many supporters of same-sex marriage say they seek — could be attained by changing individual laws.
There’s no need to change the definition of marriage, he said.
Under Maine’s Domestic Partner Registry, registered partners are accorded a legal status similar to that of a married person with respect to matters of probate, guardianships, protection from abuse and related matters. The registry is housed within the Office of Health Data and Program Management in the Bureau of Health of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Neither bill being considered this session would affect the state and federal tax codes.