Ellen Andersen

Maine: What Happens Next

Filed By Ellen Andersen | May 06, 2009 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, Maine, marriage equality, people's veto, same-sex marriage

As Nancy Polikoff has noted, Maine recorded a number of "firsts" today. It became the first state to pass marriage equality without first trying a quasi-parallel status such as civil unions. And Maine's Gov. Baldacci became the first governor in the nation to sign a marriage equality bill.

But given the realities of Maine politics, this game is nowhere close to over. 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."


I don't have a clear sense yet of when such a referendum would be scheduled, but I'm sure there's a Projector out there who can enlighten me. My guess is that it would be this November, but that's just a guess.

So right now, what's going to happen (and you know it is) is that opponents of marriage equality are going to pull out the stops to gather signatures and the champions of life, liberty, and justice (aka advocates of marriage equality) are going to try to convince people not to sign. And if the referendum makes it onto the ballot (and if past is prologue in Maine, the chances are good), there's going to be a whopping big campaign battle coming up.


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What's next? We fight. If we can't get in through the door, we come through the window.

They won't stop. We won't stop. Hell, we're still struggling to restore General George Washington's order prohibiting mistreatment of prisoners.

The vote would be in November if the bigots can get the signatures within about 60 days. This is because they need to have them in time to get them on the November ballot. If they don't have them by then, they can still submit them within 90 days, and it goes on the ballot sometime next year. Unclear in the latter case is whether or not there would be a stay put on marrying same-sex couples until the vote occurred.

The vote would be in November if the bigots can get the signatures within about 60 days. This is because they need to have them in time to get them on the November ballot. If they don't have them by then, they can still submit them within 90 days, and it goes on the ballot sometime next year. Unclear in the latter case is whether or not there would be a stay put on marrying same-sex couples until the vote occurred.