Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Maine governor signs same-sex marriage bill - Bangor Daily News

Maine governor signs same-sex marriage bill - Bangor Daily News

AUGUSTA, Maine - Gov. John Baldacci on Wednesday signed a gay marriage bill passed just hours before by the Maine Legislature.

Baldacci made his announcement within an hour of the Maine Senate giving its final approval to LD 1020. The Senate voted 21-13 in favor of the measure after a short debate.

"In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions," Baldacci said in a written statement. "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."

The House of Representatives gave its approval on a 89-57 vote Tuesday.

The governor's signature makes Maine the fifth state to allow gay marriage.

In his statement, Baldacci also acknowledged that his signature may not be the last word on the issue. Opponents have vowed to begin the process of a "people's veto" to send the matter to referendum.

"Just as the Maine Constitution demands that all people are treated equally under the law, it also guarantees that the ultimate political power in the State belongs to the people,” Baldacci said.

"While the good and just people of Maine may determine this issue, my responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and do, as best as possible, what is right. I believe that signing this legislation is the right thing to do."

Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa have been ordered by the courts to do so, and Connecticut later enacted a law codifying the court ruling. Vermont in April passed a gay marriage law over the governor's objection.

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