Former Chair of ME’s GOP: I’m Voting Yes on 1
Mark Ellis is the immediate past chair of the Maine Republican Party. This post in support of a Yes on 1 vote originally appeared on his personal blog.
As a Filipino orphan adopted by a loving couple from Bangor, Maine, my blessed life began and progressed far outside of the social norms of the day. Interracial families were not uncommon in the armed services, but outside of the military bases I grew up in, mixed families were a peculiarity.
When I was ten years old, my father retired from a long career in the Air Force and returned home to be near his own ailing father. After having been away for so long, my parents were shocked to learn how prevalent racial bigotry was in Maine. None of us were prepared for the stares and snickers of strangers who had never seen a family comprised of a white couple with two brown children and one white one.
I could have retired early had I saved a nickel every time someone mocked me in public with a fake Asian language in junior high or every time someone shouted the word, “gook” as I passed them in the hallway in high school. And I’d have an immeasurable amount of frequent flyer miles now if I had honored every request to, “go back to where you came from.”
While the frequency and intensity of issues involving my ethnicity have faded dramatically over time, my adulthood would not be free of incidents of closed-mindedness. When Rachel and I decided to marry twenty-eight years ago, there were murmurs of disapproval from older members of her family; there was a real concern about the marriage of a Caucasian and Filipino. A friend wondered out loud about the ability of our future children to be accepted within the community.
Just seventeen years before Rachel and I married, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the “Racial Integrity Act” unconstitutional. Even now, it’s almost impossible to believe that mixed marriages were illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia and had been since 1924. It’s also difficult to believe that for many years after the 1967 ruling, many would still frown upon mixed marriages.
As I consider Question One on this year’s ballot, I am reminded of all the experiences of my life and how consistently outside of social norms my journey has been. I am reminded that, while I had no doubts about what Rachel and I could accomplish and contribute to society, there were often people who didn’t see the potential.
My vote of, “Yes,” is not based in some radical desire to toss tradition out on its ear or to discount marriage as we know it today. My vote comes from the simple notion that acknowledges the powerful, positive potential loving and committed couples have on their families, communities, and society.
Vote Yes on 1! Marriage for all Maine families.