Should you visit Oxford County, Maine?
If you’re a gay or lesbian American, the question isn’t as simple as looking into the recreational, cultural and historical opportunities of the area. It’s unfortunate, but same-sex couples have to consider whether they’ll be welcomed, shunned or worse.
Recent political activities provide some answers to this question for same-sex couples interested in traveling to Maine. On November 3, 2009, Mainers made same-sex marriage illegal in the state, actively overturning the state legislature’s acceptance of same-sex marriage just a few months before. The vote was very close statewide, with almost 50% voting to keep same-sex marriage on the books. The vote was also unevenly dispersed, with some towns affirming gay and lesbian marriage equality in a landslide, and with other towns rejecting married gays and lesbians by margins of more than 70%.
Below is a map of Oxford County, Maine, a rural county in the west of Maine, bordering Canada and the sparser parts of New Hampshire. I’ve gathered election results for the towns within it and color coded them, with blue towns being the most supportive of same-sex marriage and green towns being moderately supportive. Pink towns, on the other hand, are those that voted with a majority in opposition to marriage equality; yellow towns signify those towns that rejected gay and lesbian people getting married by a large margin. White areas are either so sparse in population as to not have precincts located, or actually had a tie vote (in Stow and Magalloway Plantation, as noted).
If you are part of a gay or lesbian couple and are looking for a place to visit in Oxford County, Maine that is more welcoming to you, try the towns of Fryeburg, Stoneham, Newry and Bethel, where more than half of voters acted to affirm the marriage rights of gay and lesbian couples. Sen. David Hastings of Fryeburg (a Republican!) had introduced his own version of a same-sex marriage equality bill earlier this year. The skiing at Sunday River in the Stoneham-Bethel-Newry area is great fun, as many visitors know.
The remaining towns of Oxford County, Maine acted in a manner hostile to equality and have rejected gay and lesbian America, often in very large numbers. The most anti-gay towns (primarily in eastern Oxford County) don’t behave in a welcoming manner and yet are perplexed that they would have to build a casino to get anybody to visit. Perhaps one day they’ll figure it out.