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SSM and domestic partnerships in Maine

Senate and house pass bill.
Governor signs bill into law.

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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 lines.

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. 2

Bill passed by the House:

The bill was briefly debated on 2009-MAY-05. The New York Times reported:

"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 veto.

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 time 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 marriage."

"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." 5

Same-sex couples will be able to obtain marriage licenses in Maine in mid-September, 2009. 3

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. Maine senate passes same-sex marriage bill," Reuters, 2009-MAY-02, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  2. Kevin Miller, "State Senate backs gay-marriage bill," Bangor Daily News, 2009-MAY-01, at: http://www.bangordailynews.com/
  3. Glenn Adams, "Maine becomes 5th state to allow same-sex marriage," Associated Press, 2009-MAY-06, at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  4. Judy Harrison, "Maine gay marriage law proposed. Hancock County senator to sponsor same-sex marriage bill," Bangor Daily News, 2009-JAN-14, at: http://bangornews.com/
  5. "Governor Signs LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom," Office of the Governor, Maine web site, 2009-MAY-06, at: http://www.maine.gov/
  6. Abby Goodnough & Katie Zezima, "Gay Marriage Advances in Maine," The New York imes, 2009-MAY-05, at:  http://www.nytimes.com/

Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2009-JAN-14
Latest update: 2009-MAY-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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