Inspiring man who spoke out for why marriage matters in Maine passes away

On Monday, Joseph Stackpole, a 68-year-old man from Maine who spoke out earlier this month about why marriage mattered so deeply to him and his longtime partner, passed away. Last month he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer called plasma cell leukimia.

Just a few days before Election Day, the Portland Press Herald in Portland, Maine published a moving article about Joseph and his partner, Richard Johnson. In the article, Joseph explained that having the freedom to marry isn't about acquiring a piece of paper. It's about protecting his partner, knowing that even after he passes, the man he loves will be taken care of.  

The Portland Press Herald reported today:

Stackpole died six days after Maine became the first state to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. He hoped to live long enough to marry his partner, Richard Johnson, but his doctors told him that wasn't likely.

Same-sex weddings will probably start in January, after the election results have been certified by the Secretary of State's Office, Gov. Paul LePage has approved them and a constitutionally mandated 30-day waiting period has passed.

"It wasn't meant to be," said Johnson, who is 70. "But Joseph thought he could claim at least a few votes [in support of same-sex marriage] after the article ran in the newspaper."

Freedom to Marry is proud that Mainers have become the first state to pass the freedom to marry for same-sex couples at the ballot. But stories like Joseph's and Richard's illustrate why marriage for same-sex couples is so important and so pressing. The protections and responsibilities that marriage provides are essential for providing same-sex couples security, insurance, and financial health. These kinds of stories show us why passing the freedom to marry nationwide is so incredibly urgent. 

Freedom to Marry extends our deepest condolences to Richard and to Joseph's family. Their story inspired the Mainers United team and all teams working toward ending the exclusion of same-sex coupels from marriage, reminding advocates what they are working so hard to achieve.