May 07, 2009

ANOTHER Big Win: Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal in Maine

From CNN:

Same-sex marriage became legal in Maine on Wednesday as Gov. John Baldacci signed a bill less than an hour after the state legislature approved it.

"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," said Baldacci, a Democrat.

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay and lesbian rights organization, praised Maine's new law.

"This law is simply about making sure that loving, committed couples, and their families, receive equal rights and responsibilities. This is a step that will strengthen Maine families," Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a statement.

More from Gay City News:

Betsy Smith, executive director of EqualityMaine, noted the significance of a massive public hearing held several weeks ago, at which thousands of citizens turned out, the clear majority of them in favor of marriage equality.

"Since we began our campaign, tens of thousands of Mainers have raised their voices in support of fairness for gay and lesbian families," Smith said, in a written statement. "Today the Legislature and the Governor listened to the people of Maine and made marriage equality the law of this state. Two weeks ago thousands of Mainers traveled from every corner of the state to testify to their hopes for their families, and the harm that they suffer from not being able to marry.

"Baldacci becomes the first governor in the nation to sign a marriage equality law not mandated by a court. Earlier this year, Connecticut's Republican governor, Jodi Rell, signed a measure passed by the Legislature there to conform the state's laws to its high court marriage equality ruling last year. Republican Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Jim Douglas of Vermont vetoed similar measures, though Douglas' action was overridden.

Noting he would soon celebrate his 53rd wedding anniversary, Representative James J. Campbell Jr., a Newfield Republican, said, "They have been the best 53 years of my life. I don't want to stand here and say that two men and two women cannot have what I've had for the past 53 years with my wife."

It's nice to see a Republican committed to acting on an issue of fairness. Hopefully more of his colleagues will follow suit.

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