Today LGBT advocates in Maine announced plans to pursue a ballot initiative for marriage equality in the state for the 2012 election. Led by EqualityMaine and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Maine advocates are hoping to gain enough support for their initiative to get it onto the ballot. Although marriage equality was approved in May of 2009 in the state, a voter referendum on the issue derailed the law before it took effect. Now, perhaps looking to capitalize on the momentum of New York's passage of marriage equality, LGBT leaders are confident that a ballot initiative will pass.
EqualityMaine and GLAD would like the following question to be placed on the 2012 ballot:
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?
57,277 signatures are needed to get the question on the ballot. Before seeking signatures, the Secretary of State must approve the initiative's wording. Read the proposed initiative in its entirety here.
It should be noted that a ballot initiative has never been successful in winning marriage equality for the LGBT community. In California, 2008's Proposition 8 overturned the state's existing marriage equality policy, and Question 1 in Maine two years ago blocked same-sex marriages from occurring. A ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage is planned for Minnesota, and one in North Carolina may follow.
In spite of this, EqualityMaine and GLAD are confident. They have released results of a survey that finds support for same-sex marriage in Maine with 53 percent of the population. They have also amplified their efforts to make the public aware of the ballot initiative and the reasons for supporting marriage equality.
Matt McTighe, director of public education for GLAD in Maine, explained further in a press release:
In the coming months, we're going to continue to help same-sex couples, their family members, and their friends share their stories and talk about why marriage matters to them. We know that as more people come to understand the love and commitment that gay and lesbian couples share, we will continue to change hearts and minds.
Read more about these efforts here, at their newly-launched website.