And Maine Makes 5
by Todd Beeton, Wed May 06, 2009 at 09:26:49 AM EDT
Maine's governor signed a freshly passed bill Wednesday approving gay marriage, making it the fifth state to approve the practice and moving New England closer to allowing it throughout the region. [...]
The Maine Senate voted 21-13, with one absent, for a bill that authorizes marriage between any two people rather than between one man and one woman, as state law currently allows. The House had passed the bill Tuesday.
Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, who hadn't previously indicated how he would handle the bill, signed it shortly afterward. In the past, he said he opposed gay marriage but supported civil unions, which provide many benefits of marriage.
Turn Maine Blue has Baldacci's statement:
"In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions," Governor Baldacci said. "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," Governor Baldacci said.
"It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine's civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government."
The likelihood is that this law will be challenged at the ballot box.
Update [2009-5-6 13:43:48 by Jonathan Singer]: Just to add, for all of the backlash we saw five years ago when a single city -- San Francisco -- began issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, it's quite remarkable how little backlash is being to seen now with a fifth state, including the third just this year, allowing for marriage equality. The culture war might have worked well for conservatives the Republicans in 2004, but clearly the ground has shifted in the time since. And I wouldn't be at all surprise to see this movement towards marriage equality continuing, not only potentially in neighboring New Hampshire but also across the country as well.