On November 6, 2012, Maine became the eighth jurisdiction in the United States to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples when a majority of Mainers voted YES on Question 1 at the ballot on Election Day. The win marked the first time that the freedom to marry has ever won a popular vote, and the first time marriage advocates proactively ran a marriage ballot campaign. Read more about the historic vote.
Question 1 was a proactive citizen's initiative begun by advocates for the freedom to marry and supported by Mainers United for Marriage, the coalition working to pass Question 1. Same-sex couples began marrying in Maine on December 29, 2012.
On May 6, 2009, Gov. John Baldacci signed a freedom to marry bill into law after it was approved by the state legislature.
Anti-gay groups immediately began collecting signatures to repeal the bill at the ballot. After months of an intensive campaign, the voters of Maine repealed the freedom to marry with 53 percent of the vote. 47 percent of Mainers voted to uphold the freedom to marry.
Since the loss in 2009, advocates including Equality Maine, Freedom to Marry and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders have worked to increase support for marriage in Maine through public education campaigns and conversations with voters across the state. The work is paying off, with public support growing from 47 percent to 54 percent.
In early 2012, marriage advocates delivered enough signatures to the Secretary of State to place a citizen's initiative on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot that would allow same-sex couples to receive a marriage license while also protecting religious freedom. On Feb. 23, the Secretary of State confirmed that more than enough signatures had been collected to place the initiative on the ballot,
After months of campaigning, Mainers United for Marriage, the coalition working to pass Question 1 at the ballot, declared victory on November 6, 2012, a historic night where marriage ballot measures also passed in Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington.
GROUPS THAT WORKED ON MARRIAGE:
- Mainers United for Marriage is a coalition of marriage advocates specifically focused on seeing the successful passage of the citizen's initiative in November. The Why Marriage Matters Maine website showcases the personal stories of real Mainers and demonstrates what marriage means to them.
- Equality Maine is the primary statewide organization working to win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
- Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.
- Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England's leading legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status and gender identity and expression.
Over a year after the freedom to marry took effect in Maine, 72% of respondents explained that same-sex couples marrying had no impact or a positive impact on their lives. Mainers now support the freedom to marry by a 17 point margin, 54%/31%. (Public Policy Polling, November 2013)
NUMBER OF SAME-SEX COUPLES:
According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, 3,958 same-sex couples are living in Maine, representing 7.1 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.
Blog Posts Related to Maine
This week, ethics investigators in Maine are recommending that NOM, a group that works against the freedom to marry, be fined more than $50,000 for failing to register and disclose its activities in the 2009 ballot campaign to protect marriage in Maine.
Soon after the federal government's announcement, several other states where same-sex couples can marry - including Washington state, Maryland, and Maine - confirmed that they, too, would honor the couples' marriages.
Yesterday's vote in Rhode Island makes it all but certain that this year, same-sex couples in states across New England will be able to share in the freedom to marry. How did we get here? Let's go back to 2004 and track how marriage moved forward across the region
Resources Related to Maine
A listing of both state and national political parties that have made strong statements in support of the freedom to marry.
If advocates can successfully tap into the true spirit of marriage and convince the middle that gay couples want to get married for the same reasons that straight couples do, we think we will be able to address the middle’s remaining concerns and help move that group, and the country, more quickly towards support for marriage.
Maine would gain approximately $7.9 million each year if marriage is extended to same-sex couples.