Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Maine Gov. Signs Marriage Equality Bill! Maine 5th State to Allow Same-Sex Marriage

Within an hour after the Maine senate approved the final version of the marriage bill with a 31-8 vote, Gov. John Baldacci signed the bill, legalizing same-sex marriage in Maine, making it the fifth state in the country to do so. (See Video of the signing)

From Gov. John Baldacci's Website, his official statement:
AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today signed into law LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom.

“I have followed closely the debate on this issue. I have listened to both sides, as they have presented their arguments during the public hearing and on the floor of the Maine Senate and the House of Representatives. I have read many of the notes and letters sent to my office, and I have weighed my decision carefully,” Governor Baldacci said. “I did not come to this decision lightly or in haste.”

“I appreciate the tone brought to this debate by both sides of the issue,” Governor Baldacci said. “This is an emotional issue that touches deeply many of our most important ideals and traditions. There are good, earnest and honest people on both sides of the question.”

“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.”

“Even as I sign this important legislation into law, I recognize that this may not be the final word,” Governor Baldacci said. “Just as the Maine Constitution demands that all people are treated equally under the law, it also guarantees that the ultimate political power in the State belongs to the people.”

“While the good and just people of Maine may determine this issue, my responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and do, as best as possible, what is right. I believe that signing this legislation is the right thing to do,” Governor Baldacci said.

The law will take effect in 90 days at the end of the legislation session. However, opponents are working hard already to mount a "people's veto" campaign that would put the issue to a statewide vote in November.

Ellen Andersen on Bilerico Project explains a "people's veto" further, and its threat to marriage equality in Maine:
Laws in Maine usually go into effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns (somewhere around the end of June). But before that 90 day period is over, opponents of a law can try to gather enough signatures--about 55,000 right now-- to force the measure to a public vote. If opponents get those signatures in on time, implementation of the law will be suspended until a referendum can be held. This provision is commonly known as a "people's veto."
Equality Maine reports that opponents are already geared up to gather signatures to force a ballot initiative against marriage equality. They are asking for support to build a strong campaign against them.

No comments:

Post a Comment