News (USA)

Maine marriage equality advocates qualify for second ballot referendum

AUGUSTA, Maine — Three years after Maine voters rejected same-sex marriage, advocates have gathered the required number of verified signatures to put the issue of marriage equality back on the November 2012 ballot, according to Maine’s Secretary of State, Charlie Summers.

Equality Maine had gathered 85,000 verified signatures with another 30,000 left to be checked as of Wednesday, according to state officials. However, only 57,000 were required to put the measure before voters.

Maine’s legislature passed a marriage equality law in 2009 to give same-sex couples the right to marry, but in a state-wide ballot referendum that echoed California’s Proposition 8, nearly 53 percent of Maine citizens voted against same-sex marriage, reversing the legislative decision before the law took effect.

“Over the past few years, marriage supporters have been talking to their friends, families, coworkers and neighbors about why marriage matters,” said Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director of Freedom to Marry, in a statement Friday.

“As we work to win at the ballot, Freedom to Marry will be there every step of the way alongside Equality Maine, GLAD, and others to continue telling the stories of why marriage matters to loving, committed gay and lesbian couples in Maine, and secure a win at the ballot this November,” he said.

Two recent polls indicate that 53 percent of Mainers now favor same-sex marriage.

If same-sex marriage passes at the polls, Maine could become the first state to approve gay marriage through a popular vote.

Betsy Smith, Executive Director of Equality Maine, said, “Same-sex couples want to marry for the same reasons other couples want to marry: because they love each other and want to spend their lives together. There’s no question that momentum is growing for same-sex marriage in Maine.”

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