November 4th, 2009
02:35 PM ET
8 years ago

Maine repeals same-sex marriage law

(CNN) - Supporters of Maine's same-sex marriage law, which voters narrowly repealed, gathered Wednesday to concede the vote but not the issue.

"It seems in the end that Mainers are not ready to treat these families fairly," Betsy Smith told a crowd of No on 1/Protect Maine Equality supporters in Portland, Maine. Two women amid the crowd clutched each other as one cried.

"Having the protection of the law, as well as the respect and dignity that comes only with marriage, is a journey on which we will continue," Smith said.

With 87 percent of the vote counted early Wednesday, the same-sex marriage law was rejected 53 percent to 47 percent, according to the Bangor Daily News Web site.

On Tuesday night, the campaign manager of Stand for Marriage Maine, Frank Schubert, announced that the referendum to repeal the law had passed.

"It has all come together tonight, the institution of marriage has been preserved in Maine, and across this nation," he said to a crowd of supporters.

Scott Fish, a spokesman for the group, emphasized that the campaign had never been anti-gay.

"The campaign was very clear about that," he said by phone Wednesday.

"This was a campaign about protecting traditional marriage."

Fish said there were two main reasons the group wanted to repeal the law, which was signed by Gov. John Baldacci on May 6. There was a religious element to wanting to keep marriage as between a man and a woman, he said, but the group also felt that the legal inequities in domestic partnerships as compared with marriage could be addressed through lawmaking.

"We see no compelling reason for Maine to redefine marriage" just to address these inequities, he said.

Baldacci said Wednesday that he believed the issue would be revisited.

"We didn't take on this issue because we were certain that we would win," he said in a written statement.

"We did it because it was the right thing to do. Last night, we didn't reach the top of the mountain. But we did change a lot of hearts and a lot of minds. Eventually, we will be successful in making sure all Maine individuals and families are treated equally."

Supporters of the law had hoped that Maine, in a region that has appeared more accepting of gay marriage, would become the first state to win a popular vote approving such a measure.

Other states that have passed such laws - Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Iowa, and New Hampshire have done so legislatively or judicially.

New Hampshire's law will officially take effect next year.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a written statement that the vote in Maine made him angry.

"But more importantly, I am determined that with the anger I feel today from this outcome in Maine, we'll rise ever stronger to demand equal treatment under the law and equal respect for our relationships in Maine, California, New Jersey, and every state of the Union."

Filed under: Maine • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Terry from West Texas

    I want my gay relatives (we all have gay relatives) to have the same rights I do and the same opportunities. On the issue of gay civil rights, I am all for them.

    However, gay and lesbian citizens are asking the rest of us to accept two or three new genders into society, and this is a novel request. We need to spend a little time discussing how this is all going to work out. Do we want cross-dressing students in the public schools? How young? What about bisexuals who have relationships with both biological genders? Most gay couples I have known have a sort-of husband and a sort-of wife. How do we anticipate handling social situations? And so on. People want to know how to behave.

    Also, what is the opinion of social scientists on the impact, if any, on children? That is not to say, of course, that heterosexual parents are doing such a fantastic job of raising the current generation of pudgy, under-challenged, non-reading kids.

    November 4, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  2. zasspa

    I think it's sad that in 2009 I'm still fighting for equality and for the legal protections that most adults (note to folks who think this is some sort of slipperty slope: children, animals and things like rocks can't sign legal contracts) take for granted. If the folks who stood against the use of the word "marriage" when defining equality stood as strongly for the legislative process that Fish notes above I might feel differently. But it seems to me more that folks who have the right to marry the consenting adult they want to marry want to keep others of us from doing the same.

    November 4, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  3. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    Gay rights are inevitable. The baby boomers will die off and this chapter of bigotry will end. My son or my Son's children will puzzle over why this injustice took place in the first place.

    November 4, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. Michael

    I will be working on introducing a bill that states a union between heterosexual couples can only be deemed a "marriage" if the ceremony is held in a church – no more court house marriages. Will also be supporting the proposed bill in California that will make divorce illegal. Also, marriage should be nullified if the union does not result in children. This is directed at those sanctimonious jerks doing everything to "protect" traditional marriage. Time to live up to what you preach – God = marriage = children...period.

    November 4, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. kgreen


    But I refuse to lose sight of the fact that 47 in 100 Mainers believe gays should have equal marriage rights.

    November 4, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    A six point spread is not 'narrowly" defeating any statewide referrendum in Maine

    November 4, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  7. TBA

    Sad day for Maine, due to the fact that the Church whos the leader of discrimination against gays won.

    November 4, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  8. Pee Wee

    Amazing how 53-47 in this context is narrowly repealed. But last year it was a landslide.

    November 4, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. Bubble of Sanity

    If homosexuals want some form of institution, let them make one of their own. Marriage is, will be, and always has been, a union between a man and a woman. It is presumptuous and offensive of the radical gay groups to think they can modify an institution that has been around as long as humanity.

    And they are not being denied their rights. Any heterosexual is allowed to marry someone of the opposite gender who consents. In the same way, a homosexual can also marry someone of the opposite gender. That's what marriage is.

    November 4, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  10. Bjoerlingfan

    How can these people say "We're not anti-gay," and keep a straight face?! When your major goal is to deny gays the right to marry you ARE anti-gay! END OF STORY!

    November 4, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  11. John D.

    31 out of 31 states that have put this question to the voters voted against same sex marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman, period. I only hope New Hampshire has the guts to follow suit and ask the people the way they should have done to begin with.

    November 4, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. welches, oregon

    Ah CNN, it appears we have just enough religion to hate each other but not enough to love. Sad day for Humanity.

    November 4, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. AJ

    While it's very sad, it's not surprising. Referendums are seldom fertile ground for civil rights actions and this was no exception. It just proves that the folks in Maine are not "live and let live", an image they try and project, but are just the same old Bible banging bigots as the rest of this hillbilly nation.

    November 4, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. rand

    Why is this such an issue for those we think should be the most tolerant????

    If a certain religious institution accepts same sex marriages, why can't those who are of another religious institution accept that? Clearly their own churches are not going to bless these unions.

    What should happen is a "civil union" contract for all people that is the government binding contract. "Marriage" can be a religious enhancement to that civil union contract. Those churches that wish to bless ALL people may do so as those that will not, wont.

    I find it very interesting that the reasoning is always, the Bible says its a sin. The Bible says A LOT of things that tend to be overlooked but somehow this issue is soooooo threatening to sooooo many. I'm thinking there may be insecurities and skeletons in the closets.

    November 4, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. nardofree va.

    there is good news once and a while.....

    November 4, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. Robert

    A group isn't being radical because it wants to be treated with equality. You don't have to like it, and no one is asking you to. All that is being asked is something that has nothing to do with you if you aren't gay yourself. To be treated fairly. If you aren't gay, it hurts you in no way if two people get married. You can't legislate people thoughts, so bigots will be bigots, but you can legislate fairness in people's lives.

    This needs to be taken up by the Supreme Court. We are talking about the rights of a group of people. Do they have the right or not? It can't be decided at the state level. That's ridiculous. In some states people have a basic right and in other's they don't? It's not really a right if it isn't recognized by everyone. You can't make it legal to discriminate in one state and say protection from discrimination is a basic right in another. It either is or it isn't.

    November 4, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "However, gay and lesbian citizens are asking the rest of us to accept two or three new genders into society, and this is a novel request."

    Gender and sexual orientation are NOT the same thing in any way, shape or form.

    November 4, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  18. Bucky

    If I was gay and living in Maine I would move or quite paying taxes.

    November 4, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  19. John E Lexington KY

    CA, Maine the support for inequality is 53%. What percentage would civil rights for African-Americans have gotten in the 60s on the ballot?

    Enjoy this pettiness, 53% of you. Your time is passing.

    November 4, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  20. Brian0901

    Whether a gay couple wants to get married does not affect my marriage or anyone elses. Let's live and let live or can't all you bible thumpers stand to do that. Mind your own freakin' business for a change!

    November 4, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. sifto77

    you libs have it wrong–can't blame conservatives! Are you not aware that Maine is a far left state? Please throw the blame where it belongs–democrat hippocrites. I know many conservatives that love gays–after all we are all children of God.

    November 4, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  22. hockeybear

    @singlemom: we are entitled to a church service, too, if we want it. there are plenty of churches out there that will conduct a church ceremony. would you be content to call your relationship a civil union? neither are we.

    November 4, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
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