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.