Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Over 350 Maine Lawyers Counter Misleading Anti-Marriage Equality Ads

The NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality issued the following press release:
More than 350 lawyers from across Maine - from Kittery to Fort Kent - who teach, practice and write law in the state, have signed a statement rebutting the misinformation and distortion created by the Question 1 campaign ads, and urged voters to reject the ballot measure and support marriage equality.

"These ads are a blatant distortion of the law," said Michael Asen, a Portland attorney who has been active in the NO on 1 campaign. "As legal professionals, many of us felt a responsibility to stand up and make sure Mainers know the truth about the law."

The statement entitled Lawyers for Marriage Equality is divided into two categories - what the marriage equality law does and what it doesn't do. It makes clear that the law, enacted in May, does not threaten the tax exemption status of churches, has nothing to do with schools or curriculum, and will not lead to law suits. The full text is attached.

According to Jane S. E. Clayton who practices law in Bangor, Maine's law ends discrimination while protecting the First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty of both houses of worship and individuals.

Identifying themselves as coming from all political affiliations, the lawyers add that we know Maine and still have our common sense. Our opponents are not only wrong on the facts, they are purposely sounding false alarms.

The lawyers' statement was prompted by one political advertisement that focused on a Boston College law professor who warned of dire changes under the new law.

The ad is trying to divert attention away from the central issue which is to make sure that all Maine couples and families are treated equally - that's what this law does, said Jon Doyle, an Augusta attorney who has practiced law in Maine for 48 years and is active in the NO on 1 campaign. The law was carefully written to protect religious liberties and in no way impacts what's taught in our schools.

Maine's new marriage law protects religious freedom and guarantees equal protection under the law for all Mainers, added Lewiston attorney, Jodi Nofsinger.

Included with the letter was a September 18th legal memorandum, which methodically rebutted the Question 1 campaign distortions. It was signed by Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree, Representative Emily Cain, former Attorneys General Steve Rowe and James Tierney, Dean Peter Pitegoff*, University of Maine School of Law and Professor David Cluchey*, University of Maine School of Law.

*University listed for identification purposes only, not endorsement.
Below is the letter from the lawyers.

Maine Lawyers for Marriage Equality

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