NEW YORK - The governor of Maine on Wednesday signed a law making the northeastern US state the fifth to allow gays to marry.
Governor John Baldacci, a Democrat, signed the law after the upper chamber in the state legislature voted 21 to 13 in favor.
"In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions," Baldacci said in a statement on his website.
"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."
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Maine joined its fellow New England states of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, as well as Iowa, in extending marriage rights to couples of the same sex.
Last week New Hampshire, which is also in the northeast, moved closer to adopting a similar law.
The bill passed in the upper house, but as still to win clearance from the lower house and get the signature of Governor John Lynch, a Democrat who has previously opposed moving beyond allowing civil unions.
New York's legislature is currently considering a bill proposed by Governor David Paterson.