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Same-sex marriage in Maine

Legal status of
same-sex relationships
Previously performed and not invalidated
  1. Can be registered also in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten
  2. Licensed in some counties in Kansas but same-sex marriage is not recognized by the state
  3. Currently legal in St. Louis, Missouri
  4. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage

*Not yet in effect

LGBT portal

Same-sex marriage in Maine became legal on December 29, 2012.[1] The bill for legalization was approved by voters, 53-47 percent, on November 6, 2012, as Maine, Maryland and Washington became the first U.S. states to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.[2] Election results were certified by the Maine Secretary of State's office and the Governor of Maine on November 29.[3]

The 2012 referendum was a reversal of action on a similar bill three years earlier. On May 6, 2009, a bill to allow same-sex marriage in Maine[4] was signed into law, by Governor John Baldacci following legislative approval. Opponents of the bill successfully petitioned for a referendum before the law went into effect;[5][6] voters rejected the law on November 3, 2009 in a "people's veto."[7][8][9] Until the referendum result rejected the law, it appeared that Maine would be the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage through the legislative process with a governor's signature, rather than following a judicial ruling. Vermont was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage by statute, but its legislature did so by overriding its governor's veto.[10]

Both U.S Senators from Maine, Republican Susan Collins and Independent Angus King, support same-sex marriage.[11][12]


  • 2009 legislation 1
    • Repeal campaign 1.1
  • 2012 initiative 2
    • Taking effect 2.1
    • Marriage statistics 2.2
  • Public opinion 3
  • Economic effect 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

2009 legislation

In January 2009, Maine state Senator Dennis Damon introduced a bill titled, "An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom"[4] to allow same-sex couples to marry in Maine.[13][14] The public hearing took place on April 22 at the Augusta Civic Center because of high levels of interest.[15] The legislation extended the right to refuse to perform same-sex marriages to any "person authorized to join persons in marriage" rather than to clergy only. It did not require that such refusals be based on religious beliefs. The Act also maintained the requirement for genetic counseling in marriage between first cousins of the opposite sex and expanded it to include first cousins of the same sex, despite the inability of persons of the same sex to conceive a child together.[16]

Governor John Baldacci previously opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry, but said he was keeping an open mind.[17]

On April 28, 2009, the Joint Committee on Judiciary endorsed a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry. The vote was 11 in favor, 2 against, and 1 recommending that the issue be sent to the voters via referendum.[18][19] On April 30, 2009, the Senate approved the bill 20-15 in a preliminary vote accepting the Judiciary Committee's majority "Ought To Pass" report.[20] That same day, Senators rejected an amendment that would send the marriage-equality question to voters in a referendum and passed the bill by a final vote of 21-14.[21][22] On May 5, 2009, the House of Representatives passed the bill 89-58. The bill was then sent back to the Senate for a final vote on enactment.[17][23][24]

On May 6, 2009, Governor Baldacci signed the bill into law.[25][26] Baldacci became the first governor in the nation to sign a same-sex marriage law.[27] The law was due to take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourned.

Repeal campaign

The day after the Governor signed the Act, opponents of same-sex marriage launched a campaign to repeal it through voter referendum. The campaign was successful in placing the question on the ballot, and on November 3, 2009, it passed by a vote of 53% to 47%, repealing the law.

2012 initiative

Former state representative John Eder of the Maine Green Independent Party demonstrates for same sex marriage at the Portland Pride Festival in June 2011.

On June 30, 2011, EqualityMaine and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) announced plans to place a voter initiative in support of same-sex marriage on Maine's November 2012 ballot.[28][29] The title of the citizen initiative is "An Act to Allow Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couples and Protect Religious Freedom", and the text of their proposed ballot question was:[30]

Do you favor a law allowing marriage licenses for same-sex couples that protects religious freedom by ensuring no religion or clergy be required to perform such a marriage in violation of their religious beliefs?

On July 27, 2012, Secretary of State Charlie Summers released the final wording of the ballot question. The question on the November ballot read:

Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?

On January 26, 2012, supporters delivered over 105,000 petition signatures for the initiative to the Secretary of State's office, exceeding the minimum of 57,277 signatures required for initiatives in the state.[31][32] The Secretary of State announced on February 23 that the office verified 85,216 signatures, qualifying it for the November 2012 ballot.[33]

The 2012 campaign to legalize marriage for same-sex couples in Maine was led by a group called Mainers United for Marriage. Several groups had also formed in opposition.[34]

On November 6, 2012, in a reversal of the vote three years earlier, Maine became one of the first U.S. states to approve same-sex marriage through a ballot initiative and the fifth New England state to legalize same-sex marriage. The results were a reverse of those seen on the 2009 referendum, with 53 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.[35] Maryland and Washington voters also approved same-sex marriage the same day.

Taking effect

The law took effect on December 29, 2012, 30 days after the election results were certified by Governor LePage on November 29.[36] The 29th being a Saturday, most town and city offices would not be open until Monday, December 31, to issue marriage licenses. However, Augusta and Gardiner announced that they would open with limited hours on the 29th to issue licenses, .[37] The Brunswick Town Clerk stated that they would issue licenses from 9 AM to noon that day, but by appointment only.[38] The City of Portland announced that they would open City Hall at 12:01 AM on the 29th to issue marriage licenses and perform weddings. City spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said that City Hall would be open until 3:01, but that anyone in line before then would be given service. Additionally, Portland and other communities who planned to be open stated that any couple who wanted a marriage license that day would be given one, not just same-sex couples.[39]

Some municipalities, such as Farmington, Lewiston, and Auburn, said they would not open on the 29th, due to little demand in those locations. Some also stated that they could not afford to open, or saw no need to open just because the law was changed.[38]

The first same-sex couple married under the law was Steven Bridges and Michael Snell of Portland, who married at Portland City Hall at 12:25 AM.[40]

Marriage statistics

In the twelve months that followed the implementation of same-sex marriage laws in Maine, a total of 1530 same-sex couples married, according to state's office of data, research and vital statistics. This comprised 16% of all marriages recorded in Maine in that time.[41] Marriages between women outpaced marriages between men by a tally of 970-560.[42]

Public opinion

Public opinion for same-sex marriage in Maine
Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
% support % opposition % no opinion
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov September 20-October 1, 2014 1,531 likely voters ± 2.8% 63% 27% 10%
Public Policy Polling November 8-11, 2013 964 voters ± 3.2% 54% 37% 9%
Public Policy Polling August 23-25, 2013 953 registered voters ± 3.2% 53% 38% 9%
Public Policy Polling January 18-20, 2013 1,268 Maine voters ± 2.8% 53% 43% 4%
Public Policy Polling November 1-2, 2012 1,633 likely voters ± 2.4% 53% 42% 5%
Public Policy Polling September 17-18, 2012 804 likely voters ± 3.5% 52% 40% 8%
Maine People's Resource Center March 31-April 2, 2012 993 registered voters ± 3.11% 58.2% 39.9% 2%
Public Policy Polling March 2-4, 2012 1,256 voters ± 2.8% 54% 41% 5%
Public Policy Polling October 28-31, 2011 673 voters ± 3.8% 51% 42% 8%
Goodwin Simon Strategic Research May 18–24, 2011 1,003 likely November 2012 voters ± 3.1% 53% 39% 7%
Public Policy Polling March 3-6, 2011 1,247 voters ± 2.8% 47% 45% 8%

Economic effect

A UCLA research study from February 2009 estimated that extending marriage to same-sex couples in Maine would have a positive impact on the state's economy and budget. The study found that same-sex weddings and associated tourism would generate $60 million in additional spending in Maine over three years, creating 1,000 new jobs.[43] The state would see an increase of $3.6 million in revenues over the next three years, resulting from increased sales tax revenues of approximately $3.1 million and new marriage license fees of $500,000. In calculating the net benefit to the state, the study approximated that half of Maine's 4,644 same-sex couples, or 2,316 couples, would marry in the first three years that marriage is available to them. The study also estimated that approximately 15,657 same-sex couples from other states would come to Maine to marry.[43]

See also


  1. ^ Sharp, David (December 29, 2012). "Gay marriage law goes into effect in Maine". Associated Press. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ Press, Associated. "Maine, Maryland Vote to Legalize Gay Marriage |". Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ Harrison, Judy (December 3, 2012). "Gay marriage law takes effect Dec. 29, group says". Bangnor News. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom". Maine Legislature. 
  5. ^ "Gay marriage repeal on ballot — State — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine". September 2, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  6. ^ "People's Veto of Bill to Allow Same-sex Marriage Certified by Secretary of State". September 2, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Bureau of Corporations, Elections, 2009 Referendum Tabulation". November 3, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  8. ^ Michael Falcone. "Maine vote repeals gay marriage law". Politico.Com. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Maine rejects same-sex marriage law - CNN". November 4, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  10. ^ "The Philadelphia Gay News - Maine OKs marriage". Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  11. ^ Moretto, Mario (June 25, 2014). "Susan Collins becomes fourth GOP senator to publicly support same-sex marriage". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  12. ^ "Angus on the Issues". Angus King for U.S. Senate. Retrieved June 22, 2012. 
  13. ^ Bill would allow same-sex marriage in Maine
  14. ^ Szep, Jason (January 14, 2009). "Battle over gay marriage shifts to Maine". Reuters. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  15. ^ Zezima, Katie (April 22, 2009). "Mainers Air Their Views on Same-Sex Marriage". Maine: Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  16. ^ "FindLaw: Maine Same-Sex Marriage Law for Gay and Lesbian Couplies Approved May 6, 2009". May 6, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Maine takes step toward approving gay marriage
  18. ^ "Maine Panel Strongly Endorses Same-Sex Marriage Bill". Fox News. April 28, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  19. ^ Goodnough, Abby (April 29, 2009). "Maine - Vote on Gay Marriage Expected". Maine: Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Bill Summary".  
  21. ^ "State Senate backs gay-marriage bill — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine". April 30, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  22. ^ Goodnough, Abby (April 30, 2009). "Maine Senate Backs Same-Sex Marriage". Maine: Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Maine House Passes Gay Marriage Bill". May 5, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Maine House passes gay marriage bill — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine". May 5, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Latest News: Office of Governor Paul LePage". May 6, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  26. ^ Goodnough, Abby (May 6, 2009). "Maine Governor Signs Same-Sex Marriage Bill". Maine: Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  27. ^ Russel, Jenna (May 6, 2009). "Gay marriage law signed in Maine, advances in N.H". Retrieved May 6, 2009. 
  28. ^ "Gay marriage supporters aiming for 2012 referendum | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram". June 30, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Gay marriage supporters plan referendum in Maine - The Boston Globe". July 1, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Signature-gathering campaign to begin on Maine same-sex marriage initiative — Politics — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine". August 17, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  31. ^ Steve Mistler (January 26, 2012). "It's on: Same-sex marriage supporters give it another try". Lewiston Sun Journal. 
  32. ^ Maine Poised for 2nd public vote on gay marriage
  33. ^ Judy Harrison (Feb 23, 2012). "Secretary of state says same-sex marriage will be on the ballot". Bangor Daily News. 
  34. ^ "New group forms to oppose gay marriage | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram". May 1, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  35. ^ "Mainers approve gay marriage in historic vote - News". Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Gay marriage law to take effect Dec. 29". Bangor Daily News. December 3, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  37. ^ "Augusta, Gardiner city clerks to open for marriage licenses Dec. 29". Kennebec Journal. December 4, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  38. ^ a b "Lewiston-Auburn won’t hold special hours for first day of same-sex marriage". Bangor Daily News. December 13, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Portland to perform midnight marriages for gay couples". Portland Press Herald. December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Maine’s first married gay couple: ‘We finally feel equal’". Bangor Daily News. December 29, 2012. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  41. ^ "1,530 same-sex marriages recorded in Maine". Associated Press & Concord Monitor. December 29, 2013. Retrieved December 29, 2013. 
  42. ^ "In first year after Maine legalized gay marriage, 16 percent of couples who tied knot were same sex". Bangor Daily News. December 31, 2013. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  43. ^ a b The Economic Impact of Extending Marriage to Same-Sex Couples in Maine
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