An estimated 4000 people packed the Augusta Civic Center as Maine legislators began the first public hearings on marriage equality legislation. Bob Talbot, president of the Bangor NAACP, testified in support and received a standing ovation.
Talbot told the crowd: "I remember 40 years ago even people in Maine told us it was wrong to get married. Blacks and whites should never marry, people say the same thing today about gay and lesbians. It was wrong 40 years ago, it's wrong now!"
AFTER THE JUMP, video of Talbot's speech and his very powerful op-ed supporting gay rights and marriage equality.
This video clip via Louise at Pam's House Blend, who apologizes for the audio but adds she was "so glad to have gotten this very powerful moment on video."
Talbot begins by talking about the difficulties he had in trying to marry his own wife wife, who is white, many years ago in Maine.
Following is a rough transcript of the YouTube:
We wanted to go somewhere warm for our honeymoon. But we couldn't legally travel to most of the Southern states. You see because Frances is white. And as you can see standing on this stage, I am black. In Maine we could get married because many years ago the Maine legislature had the integrity to allow inter-racial marriages. Starting back in the 1870s. (Applause)
At the time, people said inter-racial marriage went against the laws of nature. Sound familiar? Here is what a judge said to ban inter-racial marriage. Almighty God created the races black, white, yellow and red. And he placed them on separate continents. And for nor the interference in his arrangement ... he separated the races because that was his design. Some of the people in this audience may not remember these laws. They may not remember that laws prohibiting inter-racial marriage followed anti-miscegenation laws, as if people of different races having sex was the same as bestiality. I remember. I remember 40 years ago people in Maine told us it was wrong to get married. Blacks and whites should never marry. People say the same thing today about gays and lesbians. It was wrong 40 years ago, it's wrong now!" (Applause/Ovation)
The heart does not care about race, color or sexual orientation. We urge you to support (this bill) which takes an important step toward equality and fairness for all Maine's people.
There is also this video report at WABI-TV.
Louise at PHB also links to a powerful op-ed that Talbot wrote for the Bangor Daily News.
The NAACP branches of Bangor and Portland are fully behind this crucial effort to allow a segment of our state's residents to join in one of the most important institutions of civil society - marriage.
We are certain that allowing gay and lesbian couples in Maine to join in marriage will provide the best social and economic security for those families. We know many children of gay and lesbian couples in Maine suffer from the lack of access to health insurance and all the other social and legal benefits that automatically accrue to married parents. This must end. Children in Maine must not be disadvantaged because they are growing up in a family led by two parents in a committed relationship, who happen to be gay or lesbian.
We have already heard from those who suggest adding a referendum to this bill to send the proposed law to the people for a vote. The NAACP believes strongly that basic civil and human rights of people should never be put out to a vote. If the landmark civil rights legislation in the 1960s had been put out to vote, it might well have failed. If the question of interracial marriage had been subject to popular vote before Loving v. Virginia ended such bans in 1967, it might well have failed.