On November 6, for the first time in the nation’s history, marriage equality advocates will put before voters an affirmative ballot question aiming to give gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry. Having delivered more than 105,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office in Augusta this past January (in a state with only 1.33 million people), the Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition succeeded in having the voter initiative placed on this fall’s ballot.
On June 13 from 6-8 p.m., Mainers United for Marriage, the coalition fighting to enact the initiative, hosts a fundraiser in Manhattan at the Nancy Margolis Gallery, 523 West 25th Street. Leaders in the effort will be on hand to discuss how the campaign is going and how New Yorkers and others outside of Maine can help. Organizers are asking for donations of at least $100 (action.mainersunited.org/page/event/detail/wrjp). Donated beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and Maine seafood hors d'oeuvres will be served.
In May 2009, then-Governor John Baldacci, a Democrat, signed a marriage equality law passed by the Legislature. However, in a voter referendum that November, the measure was repealed by a 53-47 percent margin, and Maine’s current governor, Republican Paul LePage, is a staunch opponent of gay marriage.
A recent poll taken by Public Policy Polling, however, shows this November’s pro-gay initiative has the support of 54 percent of voters, with opposition standing at 41 percent.
The ballot question, titled “An Act to Allow Marriage Licenses for Same Sex Couples and Protect Religious Freedom,” reads “Do you favor a law allowing marriage licenses for same-sex couples that protects religious freedom by ensuring no religion or clergy be required to perform such a marriage in violation of their religious beliefs?”
Voters in Washington State and Maryland may be voting on whether to approve the marriage equality laws passed in those states earlier this year, and LGBT advocates in Minnesota are fighting back against a constitutional amendment on November’s ballot that would bar same-sex marriage in that state.