The fate of Maine’s gay marriage law now lies in the hands of the voters.
Election officials announced Wednesday that gay marriage foes surpassed the threshold of signatures necessary to put the state law on the November ballot, setting the stage for a furious, two-month campaign.
The referendum means Maine voters have the chance to exercise a “People’s Veto” of the law, which if successful would reduce the number of states legalizing same-sex marriage to five.
Maine’s gay marriage law was supposed to go into effect on September 12, but was put on hold while the secretary of state’s office verified the number of signatures. With the signatures validated, Gov. John Baldacci, who supports gay marriage, on Wednesday signed a formal proclamation putting the gay marriage law to a statewide vote November 3.
“I fully support this legislation and believe it guarantees that all Maine citizens are treated equally under our state’s civil marriage laws,” the Governor said. “But I also have a constitutional obligation to set the date for the election once the secretary of state has certified that enough signatures have been submitted.”
Maine became the fifth state to allow same-sex marriage when Gov. Baldacci signed the bill on May 6, and New Hampshire became the sixth when Gov. John Lynch signed a bill less than a month later. New Hampshire’s law goes into effect on Jan. 1.
Vermont’s gay marriage law took effect on September 1, joining Connecticut, Iowa, and Massachusetts in allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Pictured: Gov. John Baldacci signing the gay rights marriage bill on Wednesday, May 6, 2009.