Marriage Equality Leaders Respond to Release of Petition Question

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
May 19, 2009 12:00 am

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PORTLAND – Supporters of the new state law granting equality in marriage to all Maine couples reacted with confident optimism today after the Secretary of State announced the wording of a ballot question that opponents of the new law will use to launch a petition drive against it.

The new law, which grants equal marriage rights to same-sex couples, was passed by significant margins in both houses of the Legislature, and was signed into law by Gov. John Baldacci on May 6. It is scheduled to go into effect 90 days after the adjournment of the Legislative session.

Maine’s Constitution provides that if opponents of the new law gather the required signatures, the law will be voted on either this November or next June.

“We are confident that Maine people will vote to uphold this law which grants equality to all Maine couples, and we looking forward to continuing the conversation with Maine people about the importance of this new law,” said Betsy Smith, Executive Director of Equality Maine. “Tens of thousands of Maine voters have already shown their support for marriage equality.”

The Legislature’s vote came after a lengthy hearing in front of the Judiciary Committee on April 22. Scores of proponents stood for hours waiting to tell their story of what being married would mean to their families. Several older Mainers traveled to Augusta to support their gay and lesbian children and grandchildren in their quest for the benefits that marriage brings, both socially and economically.

“The legislature and the Governor heard honest, personal testimony of people directly affected by marriage discrimination against their families,” said Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director for Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. “We are confident that these same real life experiences will also speak to the people of Maine as they consider their position.”

Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, said there has been an overwhelming level support shown by voters across the state during the campaign to pass the legislation, which was introduced by Sen. Dennis Damon, (D-Hancock) and had more than 60 co-sponsors.

“We have been very moved by the level of support for marriage equality that we encountered during the drive to pass the Legislation. We are confident that Mainers, if they are asked to vote on it, will back the new law,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. “We will be talking with people, neighbor to neighbor, from Kittery to Aroostook, and we are confident we will prevail.”

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