FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Portland, ME – Maine Governor John Baldacci signed into a law today a bill ending the ban on marriage for same-sex couples. The Maine Civil Liberties Union, which lobbied hard for the bill, applauds the governor for recognizing that lesbian and gay couples in the state should no longer be denied the legal protections, recognition and respect that comes with marriage.
"Our great state became the first to end the ban on marriage for same-sex couples solely through the legislative process," said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. "While we know that the bill signed into law may ultimately have to be approved by the voters, today marks a turning point in the fight for the freedom to marry."
Although Governor Baldacci had not previously stated publicly whether he would support the bill, he signed it into law just a day after the bill passed the state house by a vote of 89 to 57. Because of the state's referendum process, it is likely that an initiative will be placed on the ballot where the voters could reject the legislation. Opponents of the freedom to marry have 90 days from the date of adjournment of the legislature to gather just over 55,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot, which will stay the law from going into effect and bar couples from being able to marry. The initiative will be on the ballot in November 2009 or June 2010.
"We understand that many Maine people on both sides feel as passionately as we do," added Bellows. "We are confident that if our opponents succeed in making this a referendum issue, the majority of Mainers will vote for fairness."
To learn more about the fight for marriage in Maine, visit www.mainefreedomtomarry.com.