Gay rights group: Maine diocese violating tax law

Associated Press
May 21, 2009
A gay rights advocacy group claims that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine is violating tax rules by helping a referendum campaign that would repeal the state's new law enacting the freedom to marry. The Empowering Spirits Foundation said its challenge was filed Wednesday at an Internal Revenue Service office in Dallas. The San Diego-based group said the diocese is engaging in political activity by collecting signatures for the referendum, violating IRS rules applying to nonprofits. [link]

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Secretary of State Drafts Ballot Question on the Freedom to Marry in Maine

Maine Public Broadcasting Network
May 19, 2009
Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?" That's the question Maine voters will face if a people's veto campaign aimed at overturning Maine's new marriage equality law succeeds in collecting enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot. [link]

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New England’s Identity Bolsters Acceptance of Freedom to Marry

Boston Globe
May 11, 2009
New England is a collection of states where media markets overlap and families span borders. As a result, residents have been exposed to both the idea and the reality of legal unions of same-sex couples for almost a decade, since Vermont approved civil unions in 2000. [link]

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Opponents Already Challenging Marriage Equality in Maine

New York Times
May 7, 2009
Anti-gay forces have already filed a formal challenge to Maine's newly enacted marriage equality legislation, setting into motion plans for a possible public vote that could occur in November, 2009 or June, 2010. Equality Maine and its partners vow to defend the freedom to marry. [link]

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NY Times Editorial: “This Is a Question of Fairness’

New York Times
May 8, 2009
This week, the City Council of the District of Columbia voted to recognize marriages between gay people certified in other states. Unfortunately, there already are calls for Congress to once more tread on home rule and block this progress in the nation’s capital. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is right to caution against such grandstanding. Governor Baldacci of Maine heard the people speak. Congress should listen. [link]

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Maine Governor Signs Marriage Bill

New York Times
May 6, 2009

Mr. Baldacci, who cannot seek re-election because of term limits, said he had spent considerable time researching the legal ramifications of denying gay men and lesbians the freedom to marry. Exploring his feelings on the matter -- and listening to those of other Maine residents -- was, he said, "very emotional, very much a sort of baring of the soul that you're listening to and going through yourself. [Link]

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Maine and N.H. Move to Extend the Freedom to Marry to Gay and Lesbian Couples

Washington Post
May 7, 2009

The movement in Maine and New Hampshire came faster than many had expected and with bipartisan support in both places, suggesting that using gay and lesbian couples' marriages as a "wedge issue" is losing some of its resonance, at least in the Northeast. [Link]

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Maine Governor on Signing Freedom to Marry Bill

Governor's Office
May 6, 2009

Upon signing the freedom to marry bill into law in Maine, Governor John E. Baldacci stated (Link):

“I have followed closely the debate on this issue. I have listened to both sides, as they have presented their arguments during the public hearing and on the floor of the Maine Senate and the House of Representatives. I have read many of the notes and letters sent to my office, and I have weighed my decision carefully,” Governor Baldacci said. “I did not come to this decision lightly or in haste.”

“I appreciate the tone brought to this debate by both sides of the issue,” Governor Baldacci said. “This is an emotional issue that touches deeply many of our most important ideals and traditions. There are good, earnest and honest people on both sides of the question.”

“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions,” Governor Baldacci said. “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.”

“Article I in the Maine Constitution states that ‘no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of that person’s civil rights or be discriminated against.’”

“This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs. It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of Church and State,” Governor Baldacci said.

“It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine’s civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government.”

“Even as I sign this important legislation into law, I recognize that this may not be the final word,” Governor Baldacci said. “Just as the Maine Constitution demands that all people are treated equally under the law, it also guarantees that the ultimate political power in the State belongs to the people.”

“While the good and just people of Maine may determine this issue, my responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and do, as best as possible, what is right. I believe that signing this legislation is the right thing to do,” Governor Baldacci said.

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Maine Becomes Fifth State to End Gay Couples’ Exclusion from Marriage

New York, May 6, 2009 —Today, Maine's Governor John Baldacci signed into law a freedom to marry bill overwhelmingly approved by the Senate and House. Maine now joins Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in ending the exclusion of gay couples from marriage.

"Throughout weeks of conversations, constituent visits, town halls, and hearings, Maine legislators carefully listened to the stories of families, neighbors, businesses, and professional groups from around the state, and then democratically voted to end the denial of marriage that unfairly harmed gay Mainers and served no legitimate purpose," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry. "Couples that have made a personal commitment in life deserve an equal commitment under the law—and in Maine, that's called marriage."

Unless anti-gay forces take action, committed same-sex couples in Maine will be able to start getting married 90 days after adjournment of the legislative session, expected around the end of June. Opponents of equality are threatening to spend millions of dollars to gather signatures and mount an attack campaign to put a referendum on the November ballot.

"The fight is not over in Maine," Wolfson said. "To avoid a Prop 8-type assault in Maine, all who believe in fairness and equality under the law must take action now and over the next several months to ensure that the people in Maine get the information they need to reject the deceptive, anti-gay campaign we are likely to see mounted."

Freedom to Marry salutes the leadership of Equality Maine, who worked intensely in the legislature and the public over the last few years, and brought together a gay and non-gay coalition to build support for marriage equality in Maine who now will fight against any attempts to deny the freedom to marry.

Momentum for the freedom to marry continues across the nation. New Hampshire’s House and Senate passed a marriage bill, which now awaits action by the Governor. Marriage bills are pending in the New Jersey and New York legislatures, and the governors of both states have pledged to sign the bills once they reach their desks. The California Supreme Court is weighing a challenge to the discriminatory Proposition 8, brought by a broad array of civil rights organizations and other groups.

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Maine House OKs marriage bill

The Boston Globe
May 5, 2009

After a three-hour debate, the Maine House gave final approval to a same-sex marriage bill and sent it back to the Senate, where a final vote is pending. Representatives voted 89-57 Tuesday afternoon to give the bill final approval in favor of the bill after rejecting an amendment that called for a November referendum. The bill was sent back to the Senate, which is expected to take it up when it returns Wednesday. [Link]

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