The rain in Maine

Gay Marriage Ratified — and Jilted
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  May 13, 2009

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If you're planning a trip to Vacationland this summer, be sure to bring your galoshes — the "gay storm" that's been satirized all over the Internet rolled into Maine last week, when Governor John Baldacci, a Democrat, signed into law a bill making Maine the fifth New England state to take steps toward same-sex marriage (Rhode Island being the holdout).

"I did not come to this decision lightly or in haste," Baldacci said about his relatively surprising decision to sign the bill. "In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions. I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage."

The bill, An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom, lifts Maine's prohibition on gay marriage (while re-establishing religious institutions' freedom to marry — or not marry — whomever they want). It was proposed by Democratic state senator Dennis Damon, and passed through the Senate 21-13 and the House 89-57; several prominent GLBT activists who worked on the marriage campaign in the Bay State (including Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders attorney Mary Bonauto) helped organize the efforts in Maine, and Massachusetts State Senator Marian Walsh testified at a day-long public hearing in Augusta. The law is scheduled to go into effect this September.

However — shocker! — same-sex marriage supporters had little time to celebrate. The very day that Baldacci put pen to paper, gay-marriage opponents (led by the Roman Catholic diocese and a group calling itself the Maine Marriage Coalition) announced their intention to put the matter before Maine voters in either 2009 or 2010. They need to collect 55,087 votes to put a "People's Veto" on the ballot, a goal they are confident they can attain. If they manage to do so, gay marriage in Maine will stall until the issue is decided by the public.

  Topics: News Features , U.S. Government, U.S. State Government, Internet,  More more >
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