If you’re half of a gay or lesbian couple planning a trip to Maine later this year, make sure you know what you’re getting into. While the sign on the state’s southern border declares Maine to be “the way life should be,” whether things really are the way they should be varies from place to place. In some places in Maine, people of all sorts are given a warm welcome. In other places, gay and lesbian Mainers have been actively rejected. As part of a same-sex couples, you know you have to carefully consider whether you and your partner are more or less likely to be cold-shouldered or harassed for holding hands, and a recent vote helps you find that answer for the various town of Maine.
On November 3, 2009, Mainers came out to the polls to narrowly outlaw the legal marriage rights of gay and lesbian people. That vote was unevenly dispersed, with some towns widely affirming gay and lesbian marriage equality and others strongly rejecting it. Today we’ll look at Hancock County, Maine, a set of Down East towns including the east side and islands of Penobscot Bay and reaching northward from there. To create the map below, I’ve gathered election results for the towns within Hancock County and color coded them, with blue towns being the most supportive of same-sex marriage and green towns being moderately supportive of marriage equality. Pink towns, on the other hand, are those that voted with a majority in opposition to marriage equality; yellow towns would signify those towns that rejected gay and lesbian people getting married by a large margin. Areas in white are populated by too few people to maintain any voting precinct.
The pattern here is clear: with few exceptions, areas along the coast from Penobscot to Gouldsboro turned out to affirm the equal rights of gay and lesbian Mainers to marry. These are, fortunately for you, the very towns of Hancock County that are famous for their natural beauty. The towns of Bar Harbor, Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor and Tremont form the core of Acadia National Park, where the mountains crash down into the sea, where campers, climbers and kayakers coexist, and where you really ought to listen to the rangers when they explain the difference between a safe sandy beach, a fun tidepool and a dangerous seaside cliff. Deer Isle and Stonington are more quiet places offshore where fewer people live and where quiet pursuits are the thing. Fodors recommends a stop at a foodie’s paradise, Buck’s Harbor Market (no, McCloskey readers, it’s not that Buck’s Harbor… look up the coast) for lunch after a roam over granite outcroppings and wild blueberry barrens on the Blue Hill Peninsula. And the 400+ foot-high cliffs of the Schoodic Peninsula in Gouldsboro are stunning at sunrise. When you travel to these places, know that you and your partner are both respected and welcomed.