At Long Last: GLAD Celebrates Maine Marriage Victory

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Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) is celebrating today’s ballot vote in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples in Maine , with the passage of Question 1: “Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?”

“Tonight we are thrilled, grateful, and humbled,” said Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD.  “We give our heartfelt congratulations and thanks to the people of Maine for listening with open hearts and minds, and embracing equality for gay and lesbian citizens.”  She added, “Mainers United for Marriage ran a superb campaign, and I can’t praise all of the campaign staff and volunteers enough.”

Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director and a Maine resident said, “Winning marriage in Maine is profoundly important to those of us living here, including me and my family.  Now we can expect to see an outbreak of happiness, as couples – whether together for months or decades – can finally make that commitment to one another.  I am very proud of Mainers for sharing their concerns, hearing our stories and finding the common ground to vote yes.”

An initiative approved by the voters becomes effective 30 days after the Governor proclaims the results of the election.  The Governor’s proclamation can come up to 10 days after the Secretary of State completes tabulating the election results.  The Secretary has up to 20 days to complete those tabulations.  So the earliest that marriage licenses will be available to same sex couples will be 30-plus days and at most 60 days after the election.

GLAD salutes its coalition partners EqualityMaine , Maine Women’s Lobby, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, and EngageMaine, as well as national partner organizations Freedom to Marry, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Task Force.

The road to marriage equality began 6 years ago with a coalition decision to proceed with public education efforts and marriage legislation. In 2009, Maine became the first state to pass marriage equality legislation and have it signed by a governor.  The victory was rescinded in November 2009 when voters approved a ballot question vetoing that law before it went into effect.  The coalition regrouped, ran a two-year public education campaign, and decided in January 2012 to proceed directly to ballot.

Marriage equality has been won in other states through courts ( Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa ) and through legislatures (the District of Columbia, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York ).  GLAD brought the ground-breaking Massachusetts lawsuit, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, as well as the Connecticut lawsuit Kerrigan v. Department of Public Health.

Mainers who have questions about when and how they can marry, can contact GLAD’s Legal InfoLine at 1-800-455-GLAD or gladlaw@glad.org.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England ’s leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.

[From a news release]