Maine Legislative Committee Votes in Favor of Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

For Immediate Release

Contact: 
Brad Luna | Phone: 202/216.1514 | Cell: 202/812.8140
Trevor Thomas | Phone: 202/216.1547 | Cell: 202/250.9758

Maine Legislative Committee Votes in Favor of Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

Joint Judiciary Committee votes to recognize marriage for lesbian and gay couples in the state; bill now moves to Senate floor

WASHINGTON -
The
Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised Maine’s Joint
Committee on Judiciary for its vote on Tuesday in favor of legislation
that would permit same-sex couples to marry under state law.  The
committee voted 11-2-1 in favor of the legislation; one committee
member voted for the legislation with a proposed amendment that would
place the measure before voters if it is enacted into law.
 
“This
is an exciting vote, and it’s great to see strong support for the
principle that all loving, committed couples in Maine ought to have the
equal right to marry,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe
Solmonese. “We congratulate the committee, as well as Equality Maine
for its great work to build support for equality.  We hope that this
bill will soon pass the Senate and House and be enacted into law. 
April has been a great month for equality, and we’re thrilled to see
Maine take action to become the latest state to move toward recognizing
marriage equality for same-sex couples.”
 
The
Human Rights Campaign has had a field organizer on the ground in Maine
for the past three months working with Equality Maine to build support
for the marriage legislation.  The full Senate is expected to vote on
the marriage bill soon, and the House could take action in May.
 
A new
CBS/New York Times poll released Tuesday shows that support for
marriage equality across the country has risen nine points in the last
month.  The new poll, conducted April 22-26, 2009, shows that 42% of
Americans now say that same-sex couples should be allowed to legally
marry.   That number is up nine points from the month earlier when only
33% support marriage equality for same-sex couples.  More information
on the poll can be read by going here: http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/04/27/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry4972643.shtml.
 
Four
states have recognized marriage for same-sex couples under state law:
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont (effective September 1,
2009).  Earlier this month, Iowa’s state supreme court unanimously
ruled that the state constitution guarantees same-sex couples the equal
right to marry.  On April 7, Vermont’s legislature overrode Gov.
Douglas’ veto, making Vermont the first state to recognize marriage
equality through the legislative process.  Last week, Connecticut
enacted a bill codifying the state supreme court’s October 2008
decision recognizing marriage for same-sex couples. 
 
New
York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in
another jurisdiction.  California recognized marriage by same-sex
couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved
Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to
prohibit marriage equality.  The Proposition 8 vote has been challenged
in court; a decision by the state supreme court is expected by June.
 
Legislatures
in New Hampshire and New York are considering legislation that would
permit same-sex couples to marry under state law.  Maine currently
provides same-sex couples with access to limited rights and benefits
through a domestic partner registry.  Lesbian and gay couples do not
receive federal rights and benefits in any state.  To learn more about
state by state legislation visit:www.hrc.org/state_laws.
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The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of over 750,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where LGBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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