Justin Chenette: How it feels to have a constitutional right to marriage

Justin Chenette: How it feels to have a constitutional right to marriage

It’s an incredible feeling you get when you gain a constitutional right that your friends and family have had their whole lives and never had to think twice about. It’s the feeling of being acknowledged to be equal based on something that makes us inherently human, love.

When I ran for office during the time marriage equality was on the ballot and passed in Maine in 2012, I had doubts whether I was going to be accepted. From having campaign signs spray-painted with derogatory words to dealing with bullies in school and being faced with homophobia from individuals who lacked understanding and compassion, it’s been quite a journey to get to this point.

I’m proud of my work with Equality Maine helping the marriage referendum campaign, being elected as the youngest openly gay legislator in the country at 21 and my time in the legislature as 1 of nearly 100 incumbent, out, LGBT state office holders nationwide standing up against so-called religious freedom bills, all of which I hope have helped to set a positive example for young people and contributed to the movement towards progress.

Who I love doesn’t define me, but instead it grounds me in being able to champion issues my constituents want and our state needs and carry myself with a high level of confidence and enthusiasm to succeed. I cannot explain into words the feeling I have right now other than to say, I’m so proud to be an American and live in a country that now sees me as one of the same, another equal person in the crowd. That’s all I wanted. More needs to be done, but today we celebrate and reflect.

Photo of post-decision celebration via Flickr/Myles Tan

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Justin Chenette
Justin Chenette 1 posts

Justin Chenette represents Saco in the Maine House of Representatives and serves as president of the Maine Young Democrats.

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