Competing for the Irony Prize: Gay Friendly and Unfriendly Towns in Waldo County, Maine
If Waldo County, Maine were a fictional creation of a novelist, it would be an exemplar in the use of irony.
The map below displays voting results for Ballot Question 1 on November 3, 2009, color coded by town. Ballot Question 1, which passed by a narrow margin in Maine, was a measure that overturned a law granting same-sex couples equality in the right to marry. A YES vote is a vote to repeal equality; a NO vote is a vote to preserve equality. As you can see, a majority in the towns of Freedom and Liberty voted to take away gay and lesbian Mainers’ freedom and liberty. Right next door, Unity promoted division and discrimination.
Most, but not all, towns in Waldo County joined Freedom, Liberty and Unity to bring an end to equal protection under law. The town of Belfast — named after the city in Northern Ireland that was a center of sectarian fighting between Catholics and Protestants — came together in a majority to protect Maine marriage equality for all citizens. For its cultural hipness, stemming in part from a back-to-the-land movement in the 1960s but persevering through the decades, Belfast was named one of the top 10 coolest small towns in America by Budget Travel magazine. Among all Waldo County towns, Islesboro came out most strongly to vote in defense of the principle that no one is an island, that we live together and that in living together we must respect our neighbors’ discretion in living their lives. These two towns are joined by the less-ironically named Montville, Lincolnville, Northport and Stockton Springs in defending the equality of all Mainers. If you’re looking to travel to a place in Maine with both scenic beauty and respect for equal rights, consider stops here.