Nancy Polikoff

Maine governor signs marriage bill

Filed By Nancy Polikoff | May 06, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, John Baldacci, Maine, marriage equality, New Jersey, same-sex marriage

Maine Governor John Baldacci this afternoon signed the bill authorizing marriage for same sex couples. In his written statement, he acknowledged that the people of Maine have the last word on the issue. His statement that "civil union is not equal to civil marriage" is just right.

With this legislation, Maine becomes the first state to enact marriage for same-sex couples through legislation without first enacting civil unions. It will remain in that category even if New Hampshire and New Jersey pass marriage bills later this year, as both those states now have civil unions for same-sex couples.

Credit goes to GLAD, and especially to Mary Bonauto, long-time GLAD lawyer and a Maine resident.

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Just to clarify...California enacted a status they call "domestic partnership" rather than "civil union" before allowing marriage (for the time they had marriage). But in this instance the terms are interchangeable because the domestic partnership status in California (unlike that in many other places) granted all the state based consequences of marriage to those who register, just as civil unions do in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. Maine has a status now that they call domestic partnership, but, unlike California, it grants only a fraction of the legal consequences of marriage. That's why I think the leap to marriage in Maine is a notably big one.

christophe | May 6, 2009 2:09 PM

What GREAT NEWS for the gay and lesbian residents of Maine!

It's definitely great news! Though, in addition to GLAD, I'd give a lot of credit to the three Maine organizations who did all the on-the-ground organizing and lobbying work that got the bill passed: Equality Maine, the Maine Women's Political Lobby and the Maine Civil Liberties Union.

These three organizations, led by Betsy Smith, Sarah Standiford and Shenna Bellows, respectively, formed the Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition along with GLAD to coordinate the efforts to get marriage equality through the Maine legislature. Their performance at the joint House/Senate Judiciary Committee hearing - where they flooded the venue with supporters in red shirts and pro-equality clergy - should serve as a lesson to activists in other states of how to do lobbying right!

Congrats to all four organizations for passing this so quickly and well!