And Maine Makes 5

Equality on the march:

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.

Tags: Gay Marriage, John Baldacci, Maine (all tags)

Comments

16 Comments

good post by David Waldman

on why Congress can but is unlikely to overturn the DC Council's vote to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere:

http://www.congressmatters.com/storyonly /2009/5/5/163452/2573/57/970

by desmoinesdem 2009-05-06 09:53AM | 0 recs
Not to be the wet blanket

This is truly excellent news, but it appears that things are complicated in Maine:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/us/07m arriage.html?hp

Bottom line: the law takes effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns. But if the opponents gather some 55,000 signatures to put it to a referendum, the law is suspended until the referendum is held. The signatures must all be gathered in the 90 day period between adjournment and when the law takes effect.

Assuming the signatures are gathered, it is put to a vote -- which would be the November election if the signatures are gathered by September 2, or June 2010 if the signatures are completed later than that (but still before September 17 or so, which is the 90-day limit).

I'm guessing they'll delay submitting so that the vote comes in June, both because I'd guess delay is our opponents best option at this point, and because off-elections have favored gay rights opponents in Maine in the past.

Still, remarkable progress for us all and great news.

by fsm 2009-05-06 10:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Not to be the wet blanket

The people's vote may be a factor, but I think the recent polling suggests that unlike other states such a measure would fail in Maine. I doubt the activists there will make the California's mistakes.

by bruh3 2009-05-06 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Not to be the wet blanket

I agree that we're likely to win the people's veto referendum as long as we organize correctly. It's just a little dispiriting that the law won't take effect until November or maybe even June 2010.

And of course, "likely" to win is clearly dependent on your point about not repeating California's mistakes; given that wakeup call, I'm optimistic we'll do the right thing.

by fsm 2009-05-06 10:15AM | 0 recs
Eesh

I know Maine pretty well...finding 55,000 people who oppose this won't be hard at all. I'd be shocked if they don't get 55,000 signatures.

I think we'd start on the losing side of a referendum, but with the right moves, we could win it...even in June. It's a shame though that the law would be suspended until then. Having people see these marriages work is the best way to convice them to support it.

by DTOzone 2009-05-06 10:30AM | 0 recs
Re: And Maine Makes 5

What this demonstrates is that if you push hard enough for something rather than just giving up at the first sign of resistance- it is possible to change things. Maybe that's a lesson you should apply to the national level too.

by bruh3 2009-05-06 10:09AM | 0 recs
Re: And Maine Makes 5

Todd makes a good point how much has changed since Mayor Newsome allowed San Francisco to issue marriage licenses.   It was a catalyst that eventually led to the 5 states approving same-sex marriage via bills or local court rulings.

On the other-hand, it also costed us the 2004 election as Bush used it successfully as a wedge issue.   I don't have all the data with me but alot of conservative states also passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage during that era.  Those state constitutional amendments are gonna be hard to overturn by simple legislation/bills.

Constitutional Amendments are difficult to reverse without liberal supermajorities in the conservative states.

by newmexicodem 2009-05-06 10:33AM | 0 recs
The most prominent state

to pass a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality in 2004 was Ohio...the state that won Bush the Presidency...and also Democratic strongholds Michigan and Oregon passed constitutional amendments that year.

by DTOzone 2009-05-06 10:36AM | 0 recs
Re: And Maine Makes 5

Newsom didn't cost us the election.  We lost because we handed our party's nomination to a wishy-washy candidate who didn't defend himself against the swift boat ads and the flip-flopping charges at a time when the country was still freaked out about getting attacked.  

by alamedadem 2009-05-06 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: And Maine Makes 5

Exactly. What people are relying on here to make such broad statement is exit polling, but that polling was about what people felt about Bush versus Kerry , and not about whether they came  out to vote due to marriage bans. When they spoke of values, they were talking , again as I remember, about the differences between the two candidates.

by bruh3 2009-05-06 10:42AM | 0 recs
Re: And Maine Makes 5

You did not lose 2004 because of gay people. That's one of those myths that's now treated as fact. Even in Ohio, and I would need to go pull up articles that bothered to research the issue, it was not the gay marriage ban that was the determinant of people's vote. People mistook values as equating to anti-marriage equality at the time when in fact the a) the language was not about just marriage and b) it was more about the values between the two candidates, Bush and Kerry.

by bruh3 2009-05-06 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: And Maine Makes 5
We lost in 2004 because the campaign that could adapt to a post-McCain-Feingold fundraising reality was edged out by a campaign that couldn't during the primary, simple as that.  By 2006, the adaptive campaign had fully taken over the DNC, and we won like never before, and then in '08 we had a Presidential campaign that applied those lessons hard enough and early enough to actually make it out of the primaries with them, and we won like we couldn't believe.  
Taking a stand on an issue, whether it's campaign finance or gay rights or the Republicans' insistence on tax cuts, that's always going to cut a Party.  What matters is the tactics you use to stop the bleeding--and turning and punching the guy you just stopped from getting mugged is never the right tactic.  
by Endymion 2009-05-06 12:06PM | 0 recs
Re: And Maine Makes 5

I live in New Mexico and we have always been a Democratic state for generations.

Recently, there was a push in our state to allow domestic partnerships.   Despite having Democratic majorities in both the House, Senate, and Governorship.  

Certain Democratic representatives from conservative districts essentially kept the legislation bottled down in committee for yrs.  

This yr it finally made it out committee and proceeded onto the floor.   It failed by a vote of 25-17 as 10 Democrats voted with an unanimous GOP caucus to say NO.

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/Local%2 0News/Domestic-partnership-bill-fails-in -Senate

Researching this further and looking at the US Map as a whole....alot of state have some sort of constitutional law that is gonna be hard to change at least in my lifetime.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_def ense_of_marriage_amendments_to_U.S._stat e_constitutions_by_type

by newmexicodem 2009-05-06 10:41AM | 0 recs
Re: And Maine Makes 5
Ok I know this sounds crazy and I don't know how Maine law works but...
could we collect the 55,000 signatures then submit them if it looks certain that the haters will turn them in only on time to get the June refferendum, thereby we insure a vote in November during a "normal" election?
Also, is there any chance they won't be able to collect the 55,000 signatures in time?  Even if there is we wouldn't have to turn ours in would we?
I'm just playing devil's advacote and trying to make the best of an akward situation.
by goodleh 2009-05-06 01:01PM | 0 recs
I don't want a vote at all

Knowing Maine, a vote would be hard and once those signatures are collected, the law is suspended, so no one is allowed to get married anyway until the voters decide. It would be a hard fought battle and quite honestly one of our best defenses of marriage equality would be if people were actually ALLOWED to get married, thus showing the holdouts the world didn't come to an end.

by DTOzone 2009-05-06 03:26PM | 0 recs
For all the battle Chris Bowers and I had..

For all the Battle waged between Chris Bowers and Myself about this issue, I wanted to point out that my diary of earlier this year and the year before regarding the right time to pursue the issue  - was and is correct.

Its the right time to pursue this issue, its not a big issue. It might be big to the GLBT but its really not a big issue to everyone else.

If they want the right to have marital squabbles. Let them.

Also, the path that we're going down here is a good one. States Legislatures.

Just like Dean had finally been comfortable with.  This is not a judiciary issue. This is a states rights issue. The legislative branch is the best branch to deal with the issue.

Everyone who pushed too hard before, are all looking at constitutional bans in their own states.

And thats where it will stay. This thing atm doesn't have the legs to jump up and be a federal issue yet. Nor will it be a judiciary  thing - esp. with Obama's first appt. coming up.

Y'all keep going with the states. Get 'em done. And then you come back to the table and see whats next.  Keep up the good work.

by Trey Rentz 2009-05-07 02:41AM | 0 recs

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