Ray Dumont and Rodney Mondor were used to playing different people on stage, but last Tuesday, they walked off the stage at the Portland Players Theater in South Portland with new roles in each other’s lives — legally recognized spouses. The two tied the knot under the lights at the theater in front of over 100 friends and family, less than 50 feet from where they first met 14 years ago.
Mondor is the student success coordinator at USM, and Dumont is coordinator at the Student Government Business Office. The two have been part of gay rights campaigns in Maine for many years, so this year’s victory for the Yes on 1 campaign was a big reward for the couple’s years of effort. They appeared in an Equality Maine ad with their son Ethan in the months leading up to the vote on Question 1, and Mondor formerly served as president of the EQME board.
“This was a bit of a surprise,” said Mondor of the bustling turnout of well-wishers in the front lobby. The two — in matching blue shirts and ties, no jackets — were kept busy meeting the dozens of happy hugs and handshakes with warm, if not slightly overwhelmed, smiles. Dumont explained that the two had initially planned to save a public ceremony for the summer and officially wed quietly at City Hall on Feb 5.
“We wanted to just have one anniversary,” he said. Dumont and Mondor met on Feb. 5 14 years ago in the entry foyer of the playhouse in South Portland, egged on by mutual friends. A year after that, the two exchanged rings in front of Portland City Hall. They kept the rings on their right hands until last Tuesday evening when they moved them to their left as a gesture of completion over a decade in the making.
Mondor and Dumont were joined onstage by their son, Ethan, who was their best man, and a longtime friend who acted as justice of the peace. True to the slightly unorthodox backdrop, the set of Arsenic and Old Lace, the couple marched down the aisle to a show tune played by a solo pianist, and they exchanged funny stories and appreciations along with their vows. At the end of the brief ceremony, one of the couple’s many friends, who had what Dumont described as “a voice for days,” sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” before the bubbly audience moved back into the lobby for a champagne toast.
After extending their appreciation to all of their family and friends, Mondor made sure to thank the state of Maine for allowing the couple to make legal their commitment to one another. Though no longer on the board of EQME, Mondor, and Dumont remained heavily involved in the equal marriage citizens initiative passed last November. Mondor proposed to Dumont on Nov. 2 at the Yes on 1 campaign’s election-eve event at Portland’s Holiday Inn By The Bay, after finding out that Question 1 had passed. Though the victory is a huge step for same-sex couples in Maine, Betsy Smith, executive director of EQME, explained that the need for the efforts of the non-profit is far from diminished.
Much work remains for EQME, despite the group’s success in the Yes on 1 campaign. According to their website, the group seeks full equality for Maine’s LGBT community through “political action, community organizing, education and collaboration.” Recognition of same-sex couples on a federal level is still a big goal for the organization, and they are currently working to petition Maine’s four delegates in Washington D.C. to support a bill called the Respect for Marriage Act. The bill aims to repeal 1996’s Defense of Marriage Act — which defined marriage as between a man and a woman — and update federal law to recognize any marriage acknowledged by a state. In a move that reflects the changing cultural tide regarding same-sex marriage, the bill is supported by former senator Bob Barr, who was the original sponsor of DOMA. EQME is currently working on a project to send postcards and stories from Maine same sex couples to Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree to show their constituents’ support for the bill.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” said Smith of the victory in November. “It provided so many wonderful things.” She is thankful that Maine couples now receive not just the 200-plus legal protections that come with marriage in the state of Maine, but also “the validation every couple wants when they stand at the altar.” Though Dumont and Mondor stood in front of two olive green easy chairs instead of an altar, the validation they felt was still palpable. Afterward, the two raised their champagne glasses in a packed lobby and toasted to the union that can now add the state of Maine to its long list of supporters.