Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The fight for marriage equality in Maine


Just six months after Governor John Baldacci signed a law legalizing gay marriage in Maine, voters will decide whether to preserve it, making the state the latest battleground in the national fight over same-sex marriage.

The Boston Globe reports:
For both sides, the Nov. 3 ballot initiative, Question One, is seen as a crucial juncture. Opponents want to show that momentum has shifted to their side, building on last year’s California vote to approve a ban on gay marriage. Supporters - with victories in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Iowa - are eager to demonstrate that California was a temporary setback.

“The defeat in California, which was by no means predicted, was a terrible black eye’’ for supporters of same-sex marriage, said Christian Potholm, a government professor at Bowdoin College. “They very much want to make Maine a place where they turn that around.’’

But the outcome for either side is far from assured. Polls indicate that the contest is so far evenly divided in the independent-minded state, where conservative moral beliefs and entrenched live-and-let-live attitudes often go together.

Both sides have invoked “Maine values’’ in their play for votes, particularly among Catholics, who are believed to be crucial swing votes. Supporters of same-sex marriage have appealed to what they call Mainers’ sense of fairness and equality, arguing that even if they disagree with gay marriage, they should permit others to live the way they want to live. Opponents have argued that gay marriage “throws to the trash heap Maine’s decades-old interest in traditional marriage.’’

Maine is among five New England states that have legalized same-sex marriage. Massachusetts and Connecticut legalized same-sex marriage as a result of judicial decisions in 2003 and 2008, respectively, while Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire followed this spring with legislative action. Iowa is the only state beyond New England where gay and lesbian people can wed. READ MORE

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