Nearly everyone I know who has a December birthday will, if asked, confess they really wish they had been born in another month. Any other month.

Portland residents Michael Snell, left, and Steven Bridges walk out of Portland City Hall shortly after midnight Dec. 29, 2012, after becoming the first same-sex couple to be married in Maine. Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer, File

It isn’t anyone’s fault, but December birthdays are generally an afterthought. Those falling early in the month get unintentionally overlooked in Thanksgiving’s aftermath. Mid-month birthdays are too often neglected because of the enormity of the ubiquitous, all-encompassing “only X number of shopping days until Christmas” mentality that permeates America’s contemporary holiday season, while individuals born after the 25th see the anniversary of their birth swallowed up amid a fog of post-Christmas malaise and the preparation of well-intended but likely soon-to-be-ignored New Year’s resolutions.

December has long been identified with the holidays, but with almost nothing else. At one point in time, certain Americans paused on Dec. 7 to remember, per Franklin Roosevelt, the “date which will live in infamy,” but as time has passed the number of Americans born less than 50 years ago who know much of anything about the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor has dwindled nearly as quickly as the number of still-extant people who were alive when it happened. These days, Sept. 11, 2001, and Nov. 22, 1963, have pretty clearly supplanted Pearl Harbor Day in the “infamous date” department.

Americans preoccupied with the holidays at this time of year should pause to remember the numerous historically significant events that have taken place during December. Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful flight of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft on Dec. 17, 1903. Prohibition officially ended on Dec. 5, 1933. Rosa Parks helped spark the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott on Dec. 1, 1955. And locally and more recently, the law legalizing same-sex marriage in Maine took effect on Dec. 29, 2012.

As a high school teacher for the past 20 years, I’ve noticed a gradual change regarding the subject of same-sex marriage among young people: It’s become a non-issue. Contemporary teens (and most other Gen Z’ers) have never known a world where a man or a woman wishing to wed someone of their own sex wasn’t permitted to do so.

But more venerable folks remember a far different time not all that long ago. Opposition to altering marriage’s traditional definition was ceaseless, strident and extremely well-funded. Here in Maine a group calling itself the Christian Civic League stood at the forefront of the resistance, and for a while their determined obstruction was effective. After then-Gov. John Baldacci signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on May 6, 2009, opponents petitioned for a referendum before the law took effect, and an expensive and divisive campaign culminated in the nullification of the statute when 53 percent of the Maine voters who cast a ballot supported a “people’s veto.”

But supporters of same-sex marriage collected enough signatures to put it on the ballot again, and this time it was easily approved, making Maine the first state to approve marriage equality by popular vote.

I never have had the urge to marry another man, but back when the crusade to forestall same-sex marriage’s implementation was ongoing, two thoughts entered my mind. The first was a long-ago quote from evangelist Billy Sunday, who said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.”

The second notion, which in retrospect was shamefully self-centered, was this: How would legalizing same-sex marriage worsen my life? But try as I might, I couldn’t think of a single way that allowing people of the same sex to enter into matrimony with one another would negatively affect me, my family, my friends or anyone else I cared about.

And nine years after same-sex marriage’s legalization, I still can’t.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.