For Immediate Release
Maine Becomes Fifth State to End Gay Couples’ Exclusion from Marriage
reedom to Marry Must Be Protected from Opposition’s Threats
WASHINGTON - 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."
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.
Freedom to Marry is the gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. Headed by Evan Wolfson, one of America's leading civil rights advocates and lawyers, Freedom to Marry brings new resources and a renewed context of urgency and opportunity to this social justice movement.