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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) and
domestic partnerships in Maine

LD 1020: a bill allowing
same-sex marriages in Maine

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LD 1020 launched:

On 2009-JAN-13, Senator Dennis S. Damon (D-Trenton) announced that he would initiate a bill in the Senate to repeal the state's Defense of Marriage Act and permit SSM. The latter currently restricts marriage to only unions involving one woman and one man. Damon is "... a former schoolteacher, commercial fisherman and Maine High School 'Baseball Coach of the Year'." 1

Damon said that his bill would:


Repeal the existing Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).


Redefine the eligibility requirements for marriage from a union of a man and a woman to a union of two persons.


Not affect existing or future opposite-sex married couples in any way.


Recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Massachusetts and Connecticut currently permit same-sex marriages (SSMs) as do all seven provinces and three territories in Canada. The status of SSM in California is before the courts.


Recognize the right of religious groups to continue to discriminate against same-sex couples, if they wish, by refusing to marry them. Some faith groups routinely refuse to marry couples who they regard as immature, having invalid beliefs about the nature of marriage, being physically disabled, being of the wrong faith, having the wrong sexual orientation, etc. These freedoms to discriminate would continue unmodified if the bill is passed.

Representative Leslie Fossel (R-Alna) has introduced a competing bill that would expand the state rights and responsibilities given to same-sex couples who are enrolled in the state's domestic partner registry.

The bills are was referred to the Judiciary Committee. Democrats currently have a 20 - 15 majority over Republicans in the State Senate and a 95 - 54 majority in the House. There is limited support among a few Republicans, and limited opposition among a few Democrats to Damon's bill. However, a more or less party-line vote was expected.

This bill would not create marriage equality in Maine. Same-sex couples would only receive a few hundred state benefits. Opposite-sex couples receive over 1,050 additional federal benefits that would be denied same-sex couples because of the federal DOMA law. However, each additional state that legalizes SSM adds ammunition to the drive to repeal the federal DOMA law.

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Text of LD 1020:

The law would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1997 and found in MRSA Section 650.

It would add Section 650-A:

"Codification of marriage: Marriage is the legally recognized union of 2 people. Gender-specific terms relating to the marital relationship or familial relationships, including, but not limited to, 'spouse,' 'family,' 'marriage,' 'immediate family,' 'dependent,' 'next of kin,' 'bride,' 'groom,' 'husband,' 'wife,' 'widow' and 'widower,' must be construed to be gender-neutral for all purposes throughout the law, whether in the context of statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil law."

It would add Section 650-B:

"Recognition of marriage licensed and certified in another jurisdiction: A marriage of a same-sex couple that is validly licensed and certified in another jurisdiction is recognized for all purposes under the laws of this State."

Section MRSA Section 651, sub-2 describes the procedure for applying for a marriage license. It would be modified to add:

"The application may be issued to any 2 persons otherwise qualified under this chapter regardless of the sex of each person."

Section MRSA Section 651, sub-3 is added:

"Affirmation of religious freedom. This Part does not authorize any court or other state or local governmental body, entity, agency or commission to compel, prevent or interfere in any way with any religious institution's religious doctrine, policy, teaching or solemnization of marriage within that particular religious faith's tradition as guaranteed by the Maine Constitution, Article 1, Section 3 or the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. A person authorized to join persons in marriage and who fails or refuses to join persons in marriage is not subject to any fine or other penalty for such failure or refusal."

Under the title: "Prohibited marriages:"


Section 701

1 would be deleted. It said: "Marriage out of State to evade law. When residents of this State, with intent to evade this section and to return and reside here, go into another state or country to have their marriage solemnized there and afterwards return and reside here, that marriage is void in this State."


2 would be reworded. "Prohibitions based on degrees of consanguinity" would be converted to non-gender specific wording. e.g. "mother" and "father" would be replaced by "parent."


5. would be deleted. It says: "Same sex marriage prohibited: "Persons of the same sex may not contract marriage." 2

Bill summary:

The summary of the bill as provided by the Legislature states:

"This bill repeals the provision that limits marriage to one man and one woman and replaces it with the authorization for marriage between any 2 persons that meet the other requirements of Maine law. It also specifies that a marriage between 2 people of the same sex in another state that is valid in that state is valid and must be recognized in this State."

"This bill also clarifies that the authorization of marriage between 2 people of the same sex does not compel any religious institution to alter its doctrine, policy or teaching regarding marriage or to solemnize any marriage in conflict with that doctrine, policy or teaching. It also specifies that a person authorized to join persons in marriage and who fails or refuses to join persons in marriage is not subject to any fine or other penalty for such failure or refusal." 2

The bill was passed by the Senate and House. It was signed into law by the Governor on 2009-MAY-06. Same-sex couples will be able to obtain marriage licenses in mid-June after the end of the legislative session.

Site navigation:

Home> Religious info.> Basic> Marriage> Same-sex marriage> Menu> Maine> here

Home> "Hot" topics> Homosexuality> Same-sex marriage> Menu> Maine> here

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. The Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition's website is at: http://www.mainefreedomtomarry.org/
  2. "LD 1020: An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom," Main Legislature, at: http://www.mainelegislature.org/ It is available in MS-Word, RTF or PDF formats.

Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2009-JAN-14
Latest update: 2009-MAY-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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