Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Maine House approves gay marriage

(Augusta, Maine) With a vote of 89-58, the Maine House on Tuesday gave initial approval to legislation allowing same-sex marriage.

The vote spent three hours in impassioned debate on the bill.

It received initial passage in the state Senate on April 30.

The House version and that of the Senate now must be unified and undergo a final vote before going to the desk of Gov. John Baldacci.

Whether the governor will sign it is anybody’s guess at this point. Baldacci has said he has not made up his mind on gay marriage.

Same-sex marriage advocates have delivered more than 10,000 postcards asking him to support the legislation.

The legislation would repeal Maine’s 12-year old so-called Defense of Marriage law which bars same-sex marriage and make marriage gender-neutral. It also states that churches would not be compelled to conduct same-sex weddings if it would be inconsistent with their doctrine.

The conservative Maine Marriage Alliance has said that if same-sex marriage appears to be on a track to legalization it would press for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

The New Hampshire House will vote on a similar bill Wednesday. It already has passed the Senate but Gov John Lynch who has said he believes the current civil union law works fine has not said if he would veto the bill.

Same-sex marriage already is legal in three New England states - Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont.

Elsewhere, same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa. New York Gov David Paterson (D) has unveiled legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry in the Empire State and in California, the Supreme Court is expected to rule this spring on the legality of Prop 8 the voter approved measure banning gay marriage in that state.

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