The Maine State House of Representatives voted today in favor of legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry under state law. The state House voted 89 to 58 in favor of the measure, which previously passed the State Senate last week.
“The march towards marriage equality for all loving, committed couples continues across this country,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Today, Maine joins the growing list of states who have voted to grant marriage equality to same-sex couples. It’s becoming increasingly clear that legislators across the nation understand that it’s simply the right thing to do. We congratulate Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree for her championing of this legislation and Equality Maine for its great work in building support for equality. We urge Maine Governor John Baldacci to sign this bill into law and unequivocally place Maine on the right side of history.”
The Human Rights Campaign has had a field organizer on the ground in Maine for the past four months working with Equality Maine to build support for the marriage legislation.
Four states have recognized marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont (effective September 1, 2009). Last month, Iowa’s state supreme court unanimously ruled that the state constitution guarantees same-sex couples the equal right to marry. On April 7, Vermont’s legislature overrode Gov. Douglas’ veto, making Vermont the first state to recognize marriage equality through the legislative process. Connecticut also enacted a bill codifying the state supreme court’s October 2008 decision recognizing marriage for same-sex couples.
New York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in another jurisdiction. California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. The Proposition 8 vote has been challenged in court; a decision by the state supreme court is expected by June.
Legislatures in New Hampshire and New York are also considering legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry under state law. Maine currently provides same-sex couples with access to limited rights and benefits through a domestic partner registry. Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. To learn more about state by state legislation visit: www.hrc.org/state_laws