SSM and domestic partnerships in Maine
Senate and house pass bill.
Governor signs bill into law.
Bill LD 1020 passed by the state Senate:
The bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee without
difficulty, except for some interruptions by some members of the public who were
opposed to its passage. As
many as 8 of the 13 voting members of the committee are co-sponsors of the bill.
On 2009-APR-30, the bill was approved by full Senate with an
initial vote of 21 to 15 and a final vote of 21 to 13, with one absent (62% in
favor). Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Allagash)
was the only Democrat to vote against the measure. He said that he voted the way
he believed the majority of his constituents would want. Sen. Christopher Rector
(R-Thomaston) and Sen. Peter Mills (R-Skowhegan) were the only Republican
senators to vote for the bill. Otherwise, the voting was strictly on party
Lucie Bauer of Rockport, recalled her marriage to her partner Annie last August in
California said: "That was a bittersweet occasion: wonderful to be married but
bitter because it wasn't recognized in my home state and community."
An amendment was initiated by Sen. David Hastings, (R-Fryeburg)
to delay implementation of the bill until a state-wide referendum can be held.
It was voted down 22 to 12. Hastings said: "This is one of those questions that
must be submitted to the public, and I don't think there is any question in
anybody's minds that it will be."
Mike Heath of the Maine Family Policy Council, a group
opposed to families led by same-sex couples, immediately announced a petition
drive to get a referendum on the ballot. 1,2
Within two days, the article on SSM in
the Bangor Daily News received 220 comments posted by readers.
Bill passed by the House:
The bill was briefly debated on 2009-MAY-05. The New York Times
"The House chamber was thick with emotion on Tuesday as many
legislators openly wept and revealed personal details. One told her colleagues
for the first time that she has a lesbian daughter; another wept as he explained
that he, as a white man, would not have been able to marry his wife of 25 years,
who is black, if a law had not been changed. Other legislators spoke of
sleepless nights debating how to vote." 6
Senator Debra Plowmen (R-Hampden) warned that the bill was being
passed: "... at the expense of the people of faith. You are making a decision
that is not well-founded."
Senate Majority Leader Philip Bartlett II (Bartlett, D-Gorham) noted that the
bill only affects civil marriage ceremonies. It
does not compel religious institutions to recognize gay marriage. He said: "We respect religious liberties. ... This is long overdue."
Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, (D-Vassalboro), turned the
gavel over to an openly gay member, Sen. Lawrence Bliss, (D-South Portland), to
preside over the final vote. The bill was passed by the House with a vote of 89
to 57 (61% in favor). 3
It then went to Governor Baldacci (D) for a veto or signature. The
future of thousands of loving, committed same-sex couples and their children
hung on the decision of one person, who has the constitutional right to veto the
decision of the state House and Senate. If he had vetoed the legislation, it is
doubtful that the House and Senate would have sufficient support to override the
Bill signed into law:
Back in early 2009, Gov. John Baldacci, (D) had said that he would pay close attention to the debate but
was not at that
prepared to support same-sex marriage. He did not indicate whether he would
sign or veto the bill if it passed. He issued a statement saying:
"In the past, I have opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of
civil unions. I have been a tireless defender of equal opportunity and have
fought to end discrimination in employment, housing and throughout society.
Unfortunately, there is no question that gay and lesbian people and their
families still face discrimination."
"This debate is extremely personal for many people and it's an issue that I
struggle with trying to find the best path forward." 4
Governor Baldacci accepted the over 60% majority vote of the
state House and Senate by signing the Bill LD 1120 into law on 2009-MAY-06.
On 2009-MAY-06, he issued a statement, saying:
"I have followed closely the debate on this issue. I have listened to both
sides, as they have presented their arguments during the public hearing and on
the floor of the Maine Senate and the House of Representatives. I have read
many of the notes and letters sent to my office, and I have weighed my
decision carefully. I did not come to this decision lightly or in haste."
"I appreciate the tone brought to this debate by both sides of the issue.
This is an emotional issue that touches deeply many of our most important
ideals and traditions. There are good, earnest and honest people on both sides
of the question."
"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
"Article I in the Maine Constitution states that 'no person shall be
deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be
denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of that
person?s civil rights or be discriminated against'."
"This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that
falls outside of its beliefs. It does not require the church to perform any
ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of
Church and State."
"It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine?s
civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government."
"Even as I sign this important legislation into law, I recognize that this
may not be the final word. Just as the Maine Constitution demands that all
people are treated equally under the law, it also guarantees that the ultimate
political power in the State belongs to the people."
"While the good and just people of Maine may determine this issue, my
responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and do, as best as possible, what
is right. I believe that signing this legislation is the right thing to do."
Same-sex couples will be able to obtain marriage licenses in Maine
in mid-September, 2009. 3
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Maine senate passes same-sex marriage bill," Reuters, 2009-MAY-02, at:
Kevin Miller, "State Senate backs gay-marriage bill," Bangor Daily News,
Glenn Adams, "Maine becomes 5th state to allow same-sex marriage,"
Associated Press, 2009-MAY-06, at:
Judy Harrison, "Maine gay marriage law proposed. Hancock County senator to
sponsor same-sex marriage bill," Bangor Daily News, 2009-JAN-14, at:
"Governor Signs LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage
and Affirm Religious Freedom," Office of the Governor, Maine web site,
Abby Goodnough & Katie Zezima, "Gay Marriage Advances in Maine," The New
York imes, 2009-MAY-05, at:
Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2009-JAN-14
Latest update: 2009-MAY-09
Author: B.A. Robinson