Marriage Equality Bill passes Maine Senate

1 May 2009

(Augusta, Maine) The Maine Senate on Thursday gave initial approval to legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry.

The Senate voted 21-14 to approve the measure, following an emotional debate.

At attempt by conservatives to put the issue before voters was soundly defeated. The measure now moves to the House.

Gov. John Baldacci has said he has not made up his mind on gay marriage, though gay marriage advocates have delivered more than 10,000 postcards asking him to support the legislation.

EqualityMaine and the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence called on the governor to endorse the bill and sign if if passes the legislature.

The groups also sent lawmakers copy of a book they prepared that includes interviews with 82 people who tell about the impact on their families of not having a gay marriage law.

The legislation would repeal Maine's 12-year-old so-called Defense of Marriage law, which bars same-sex marriage and make marriage gender-neutral. It also states that churches would not be compelled to conduct same-sex weddings if it would be inconsistent with their doctrine.

The conservative Maine Marriage Alliance has said that if same-sex marriage appears to be on a track to legalization, it would press for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

On Wednesday, the New Hampshire Senate passed legislation to legalize gay marriage. The bill passed the House a month ago.

Gov. John Lynch, who has said he believes the current civil union law works fine, has not said if he would veto the bill.

Same-sex marriage already is legal in three New England states - Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont.

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