Where are you welcome? Where are you not welcome?
If you’re in a gay or lesbian couple, you know by now that a narrow majority of Mainers has decided you don’t deserve the basic respect afforded to people in the United States of America: the legal respect of equality. On the bright side, a very large minority of Mainers vehemently disagrees.
The homophobic majority and the gay-friendly minority are not evenly dispersed in Maine. There are many communities in which gay and lesbian couples aren’t just tolerated; they’re embraced. In other places, you can’t even hold hands with someone of the same sex without getting angry, threatening stares… or worse. If you’re thinking of coming to Maine for a visit, it makes sense for you to know what the various chambers of commerce won’t tell you — whether you’ll be welcomed or shunned in a particular town in Maine. How the vote came down on November 3, 2009 in a town in Maine is a pretty good indicator of the reception you’ll get.
Below is a map of Cumberland County, Maine, the county featuring the city of Portland, the hub of Maine’s population. I’ve gathered election results for the towns within it and color coded them: blue being the most supportive of same-sex marriage, green being moderately supportive, pink standing in opposition to marriage equality and yellow being reserved for those towns that rejected gay people getting married in a landslide.
Overwhelmingly, the people of the town of Baldwin, Maine have declared that they couldn’t care less about equal rights for gay and lesbian people. Similarly, the people of Frye Island (who incorporated as a way of avoiding paying taxes for schools) have decided that gay and lesbian people don’t deserve fully equal rights due to all Americans since the passage of the 14th Amendment. Generally, inland Cumberland county couldn’t give a hoot about gay and lesbian rights; you shouldn’t expect a big and friendly welcome if you decide to make a visit there. Frozen faces are about the best you can expect.
If you’re looking for a place to visit in Cumberland County, Maine that is more welcoming to gay and lesbian couples, consider the coast; from Cape Elizabeth to Portland through Falmouth, Cumberland, Yarmouth, Freeport up to Brunswick you’ll find communities that strongly embraced the cause of marriage equality on Election Day 2009. These places are more cosmopolitan, more open-minded, and have vibrant resident communities of gay and lesbian Mainers who will welcome you with open arms.