In the short span of a few weeks, Iowa, Vermont, and now Maine join Massachusetts and Connecticut in allowing same-sex marriages.
Maine's governor is also the first one ever to sign such a bill into law without either being forced by a Supreme Court ruling nor by the possibility of seeing his possible veto overridden by the legislature:
Democratic Gov. John Baldacci today signed into law a bill allowing gay marriage, making Maine the fifth state to allow same-sex marriage.Unfortunately, the situation in Maine is not as favorable towards us as it was in Iowa:
Baldacci said in a statement that while he has opposed gay marriage in the past, "I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.
"This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs," the governor said. "It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of church and state.
"It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine’s civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government," Baldacci said.
The law will take effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session in June.That our opponents would try to take away our rights is a virtual guarantee. What I don't like is the fact that the law might not even have a chance to be enacted before being suspended until after the referendum.
Gay-marriage opponents have promised to organize a people’s veto campaign that would put the issue to a statewide vote in November. To do this, opponents would have to gather 55,087 signatures within 90 days after the adjournment of the Legislature, expected to occur in mid-June. The law would then be put on hold until after the vote on Election Day.
This could mean that no gay couple would ever be able to take advantage of this historically progressive legislation.
Chances are pretty good that the number of signatures gathered will greatly surpass the minimum needed, and after that, all we can do is hope that Mainers will choose equality over bigotry.
At any rate, today we can say, Hurray for Maine!!