Marriage Equality USA

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State of Maine
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Current Status

  • Civil marriage equality in effect at the state level since 2012. (Same-sex couples may legally marry.)

Historical Perspective

  • In May 2009 Governor John Baldacci was the first United States governor to sign into law a bill legalizing marriage equality. Unfortunately, the law was repealed by referendum in November of the same year.
  • On 6 November 2012, Maine was one of the first 3 states to legalize marriage equality by popular vote with the passage of Question 1.

Legislation - Pending

None.

Legislation - Enacted

SP0384, LD 1020, item 1 - An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom 

Author/Sponsor: Senator Dennis Damon
Date Introduced: January 2009
Date Enacted: 6 May 2009
Date Repealed: 3 November 2009

Description:

  • A bill to allow same-sex couples to marry in Maine.
  • The legislation extended the right to refuse to perform same-sex marriages to any "person authorized to join persons in marriage" rather than to clergy only. It did not require that such refusals be based on religious beliefs.
  • The Act also maintained the requirement for genetic counseling in marriage between first cousins of the opposite sex and expanded it to include first cousins of the same sex, despite the inability of persons of the same sex to conceive a child together.
  • The day after the Governor signed the Act, opponents of same-sex marriage launched a campaign to repeal it through voter referendum. The campaign was successful in placing the question on the ballot.
  • 3 November 2009, the referendum passed by a vote of 53% to 47%, repealing the marriage equality law.

Lawsuits - Pending

None.

Lawsuits - Resolved

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE et al. v. COMMISSION ON GOVERNMENTAL ETHICS AND ELECTION PRACTICES

Case #: 1:2009cv00538
Date Filed: 1 October 2009
Ruling Date: 28 May 2014

Description:

  • The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices found that the National Organization for Marriage violated campaign finance laws by failing to properly register as a ballot question committee and file financial reports in the 2009 referendum that struck down gay marriage. Same-sex unions were legalized by voters in 2012.
  • The commission also ruled that the organization must file a campaign finance report, which would force it to disclose the names of its donors.
  • Maine's ethics panel fined NOM more than $50,000 and ordered it to reveal the donors who backed its efforts to repeal the state's marriage equality law.

Ballot Initiatives - Pending

None.

Ballot Initiatives - Passed

Question 1 2009 - 

Type and Purpose of Ballot Measure:
Date Passed:
3 November 2009

Summary:
A voter referendum rejecting a bill legalizing marriage equality in Maine. The measure passed 53%-47%. Three years the outcome of the referendum was reversed when Maine voters passed Question 1 2012 (see below).

Question 1 2012 -An Act to Allow Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couples and Protect Religious Freedom

Type & Purpose of Ballot Measure: A citizen initiative brought by Equality Maine and GLAD to restore marriage equality to the state of Maine. The ballot question read: Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?
Date Passed:6 November 2012

Summary:

  • 26 January 26, 2012, supporters delivered over 105,000 petition signatures for the initiative to the Secretary of State's office, exceeding the minimum of 57,277 signatures required for initiatives in the state. 23 February 2012, the Secretary of State announced that the office had verified 85,216 signatures, qualifying it for the November 2012 ballot.
  • The 2012 campaign to legalize marriage for same-sex couples was led by a group called Mainers United for Marriage.
  • 6 November 6 2012, in a reversal of the vote three years earlier, Maine became one of the first U.S. states to approve same-sex marriage through a ballot initiative and the fifth New England state to legalize same-sex marriage. The results were a reverse of those seen on the 2009 referendum, with 53 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.
  • (Maryland and Washington voters also approved same-sex marriage the same day.)
  • 29 November 2012, the election results were certified by Governor LePage.
  • Marriage equality went into effect in Maine on 29 December 2012.

Polls

  • 13 November 2013, a Public Policy Polling survey found that 54% of Maine voters thought same-sex marriage should be allowed, while 37% thought it should not be allowed and 9% were not sure. Poll Details
  • 28 August 2013, a Public Policy Polling survey found that 53% of Maine voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 38% opposed it and 9% were not sure. Poll Details