Maine Same-Sex Marriage Question, Question 1 (2012)

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Same-Sex Marriage Question
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Type:indirect initiated state statute
State code:Question 1 (2009)
Referred by:EqualityMaine
The Maine Same-Sex Marriage Question was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of Maine as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was approved. The measure overturned a voter-approved 2009 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state. That 2009 measure repealed a legislatively approved law that allowed same sex marriage. The organizer of the petition drive was the group called EqualityMaine.[1]

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results

The following are official election results:

Maine Question 1
Approveda Yes 372,887 51.5%

Results via the Maine Secretary of State's website.[2]

Text of measure

Ballot language

The ballot language that voters saw on the ballot read as follows:[3]

Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?

The following was the ballot language proposed by supporters of the initiative:[1][4]

Do you favor a law allowing marriage licenses for same-sex couples that protects religious freedom by ensuring no religion or clergy be required to perform such a marriage in violation of their religious beliefs?”



The following were notable supporters of the ballot measure:


  • Matt McTighe, speaking on behalf of the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders stated, "We believe there's strong support for marriage in Maine. We believe that all families deserve the right to marry. The longer we wait, the longer we delay this right of loving and committed couples to marry."[8]
  • Betsy Smith of EqualityMaine argued that there was a shift in opinions in the state about same-sex marriage: "We've been having conversations with Mainers for the last year and a half, and what we know is that Mainers are changing their minds on this issue. We began working for marriage equality in 2009. We want to finish that job."[8]
  • Smith also stated: "Off-year elections (like 2009) tend to attract older, more conservative, diehard voters who dutifully show up whenever there's an election. Presidential elections, however, get much of their results from the younger, more liberal voters who typically vote once every four years. With the right message and the right messenger, we can help educate those 'middle (undecided) voters,' who aren't far right or far left and generally support fairness and equality in the LGBT community but don't equate it with marriage."[9]
  • Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine: “The Constitution promises all people equal protection under the law, and we are committed to fulfilling that promise for all Maine families this November. All loving, committed couples deserve the freedom to marry.”[10]
  • According to a column written by writer Bill Cleary, he argued the following: "Decades ago, homosexuality was still widely considered a taboo subject. Today, same-sex marriage is legal in many states and countries, and children are taught -- rightly -- that there is no shame in one's sexual orientation. With the continuing march of progressiveness, it seems inevitable that same-sex marriage will be legal in Maine soon. Maine shamed itself in 2009. Let's do the right thing the next time we vote."[11]
  • EqualityMaine executive director Betsy Smith stated about the issue of same-sex marriage in Maine, and about how Presidential election years attract younger voters: “All this leads us to believe that 2012 is a very different year for us than 2009. Until we finally win marriage at the ballot, opponents will always claim that marriage is supported only by the courts and legislatures, but not by the people.”[12]
  • U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree stated: “They share homes and they raise children together, they remain committed to each other through the ups and downs of life. But because they are same-sex couples, they are denied the right to honor their love and commitment to each other through marriage.”[13]
  • According to Mary Breen, a member of the Board of Directors for Equality Maine, stated: "People are interested in doing the right thing and are seeing that equality is the only option for fairness. A loving, committed same-sex couple deserves the same that loving, committed opposite-sex couples have."[14]
  • Co-facebook founder Chris Hughes and his partner Sean Eldridge, president of Hudson River Ventures, pledged money to the campaign in favor of the measure. According to Eldridge, "Voters in Maine have a historic opportunity to win marriage at the ballot in November. We are encouraged by strong statewide support for the initiative and the top-notch campaign team that's in place, and we hope that our support will motivate others to invest in the campaign. With numerous marriage-equality cases heading to the Supreme Court, there is nothing more important than growing momentum and winning the freedom to marry in more states."[15]
  • Gene Robinson, who was an openly gay Bishop in the Episcopal Church stated his support for the measure. Robinson, who married his long-time partner in New Hampshire, stated, "I think it will be not too far in the future that we will look back on this the same way we look back on laws that prohibited people of different races from being married or how we look back at slavery. All those things over time have so clearly been on the right side of history, and future generations will wonder how good, faithful, responsible people could ever have favored marriage discrimination"[16]
  • Republican Representative Stacey Fitts stated about the measure, “I certainly agree with the core Republican values of small and limited government. I find this to be the perfect match.”[17]
  • Portland Mayor Michael Brennan stated at a rally, "My greatest hope is that the first marriage ceremony to be performed after the election in November will be here in Portland at City Hall."[18]
  • Steve Abbott, a former candidate for Maine governor and the current athletic director at the University of Maine, stated, "As a Republican, I value personal responsibility and believe that the family is the foundation of our community. That's why I support the freedom to marry for all, loving committed couples in Maine."[19]
  • In a television ad showing firefighters in the state of Maine, the following statements were made by four different firemen:[20]
    • Ryan Michael: "These guys are all straight. So when I joined the department, I wondered how a brotherhood so tight like that would be accepting of someone who is gay.”
    • Andrew Shea: "The brotherhood that we have is not the straight firemen’s brotherhood. It’s the firemen’s brotherhood."
    • Dave Lorandeau:"If a guy works hard and does his job, I’m not going to judge him and we’re not going to judge him either."
    • Eric Humphrey: "When we clear a call, I get to go home to my wife. The guys I work with should be able to marry the person they love. We’re voting ‘Yes’ on 1."

Strategies and petition circulation

  • Equality Maine, reports said at the time of circulation, planned to collect signatures around the University of Maine campus. The goal was to get a student backing of the initiative and to attempt to complete signature collection before the holiday season. According to volunteer David Cox: "[UMaine] is a good place to get a lot of support. And this is support that we really need. We need to talk to everybody to get their signatures.”[21]

Campaign contributions

As of June 1, 2012, according to financial reports filed with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, supporters of the Maine Same-Sex Marriage Question raised nearly 36 times the amount of money raised by opponents. Mainers United for Marriage have reportedly about $359,000 while amendment opponents Protect Marriage Maine have raised nearly $10,000.[22]


The following is information obtained from the opposing side of the measure:



  • Marc Mutty, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, stated that voters already had a say on the matter, commenting: "The people of Maine rejected same-sex marriage in November of 2009 and should not be put through what will likely be another divisive drawn-out campaign. The people of this country have rejected same-sex marriage in all cases in which it has been put on the ballot. There's no reason why we should expect a different outcome this time."[8]
  • In a special to The Portland Press-Herald, the writer of the column said why a question of same-sex marriage on the ballot would fail: "If they follow through on their plan to put same-sex marriage on the November 2012 ballot, EqualityMaine and their followers will be ensuring that Maine will be a red state in the 2012 election cycle...they will be bringing all of the socially conservative voters out of the woodwork to vote against it."[25]
  • Bob Emrich, a pastor at the Emmanuel Bible Baptist Church, helped lead the group Stand for Marriage Maine in 2009 to place the measure on the ballot that overturned same-sex marriage legalization. Emrich stated about a possible counter-campaign to the 2012 measure to overturn the 2009 efforts: "What we’ve been doing is building the network and expanding grassroots connections to people in Maine and talking to people around the country. We need to be ready so when this starts, we hit the ground running.”[12]
    • Emrich also referenced North Carolina Amendment 1. The measure, which was approved by voters, defined marriage in the state as between one man and one woman.[26] Emrich stated, "The events in North Carolina are going to help significantly. It shows the momentum has not changed. People will see it as a worthwhile investment."[15]
  • Michael Heath, who worked to form a political organization to oppose the ballot question, made a faith-based argument stating: "Even if a thousand false teachers appear on the scene, we will follow God's law, a law which is eternal and imperishable, a law which is not made today and changed tomorrow, but which has existed from all time."[27]

Campaign contributions

As of June 1, 2012, according to financial reports filed with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, supporters of the Maine Same-Sex Marriage Question raised nearly 36 times the amount of money raised by opponents. Mainers United for Marriage at the time had reportedly about $359,000 while amendment opponents Protect Marriage Maine have raised nearly $10,000.[28]


Maine Education Association

The Maine Education Association stated support for the measure. After their statement of support for the proposal, Maine Governor Paul LePage stated in a letter on May 24, 2012 that the group had other issues to worry about than the issue of same-sex marriage. LePage stated in the letter, without specifically giving his stance on the measure: "In Maine, we are blessed with many great teachers. Too often, however, union bosses worry about a wide variety of efforts -- political campaigns, lobbying, protecting bad teachers, insurances sales, and providing golf and skiing discounts -- which are not related to furthering the education of our children."[5]

Then on May 29, 2012, LePage vetoed a bill that would have provided “additional pay to public school teachers who receive special national certification”. According reports, LePage cited the teachers’ union's endorsement of the same-sex marriage measure as a reason for his veto.[29]

Ballot language

Ballot language for the measure was the subject of controversy, after a 10-word question was proposed by the Maine Secretary of State. The language read: "Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?"[30]

According to initiative supporter Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, "The question does not address the parts of the proposed law that protect religious freedom by ensuring no religion or clergy be required to perform a marriage in violation of their religious beliefs. More than 105,000 Maine voters signed petitions that included information about both parts of the law. Ideally, the language of the question would reflect that full explanation."

Opponents criticized the language as well, although not at the same level of their counterparts. Bob Emrich, campaign manager for Protect Marriage Maine, commented that he would have liked the language to ask whether or not the definition of marriage should be changed. Emrich stated, "We won't complain if it's left the way it is now. At least this is a simple yes or no."

The ballot language was changed later in August 2012 by the Maine Secretary of State to read: "Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?"[31]

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Maine ballot measures, 2012


  • According to the Biddeford Journal Tribune: "As the debate continues in Maine, we hope residents will consider their friends and neighbors who work, raise their children, pay taxes and contribute to this state, but who do not have the right to marry their partners and protect their families, as so many of us are able to do, simply because they are gay."[32]


  • On March 7, 2012, a poll was taken by Public Policy Polling showing a lead for same-sex marriage support at the time. The poll was taken in early March, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.[33]
  • A second poll, this time by the Maine People's Resource Center, showed support for the measure. The poll was taken in late March and early April, 2012, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.11 percentage points.[34]
  • A poll from WBUR and MassINC showed support for Question 1. The poll was taken between June 13th and 14th, with a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.[35]
  • In September 2012, a poll was taken by the Maine People’s Resource Center regarding the measure. The question was asked, "Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?." The margin of error for the poll was 3.35 percent.[36]

Path to the ballot

In order for the measure to be placed on the statewide ballot, 57,277 signatures needed to be submitted by the January 30, 2012 petition drive deadline. The Maine Secretary of State approved the ballot language for the measure on August 17, 2011, allowing supporters to circulate petitions for signatures.[37]

Reports out the state claimed that supporters planned to collect about 80,000 signatures. The initiative effort officially began signature collection on August 20, 2011. By August 21, 2011, the effort had collected about 5,200.[38][39]

According to reports, Equality Maine collected about 100,000 signatures, 36,000 of those signatures were collected on 2011 Election Day, surpassing the required number.[40]

On January 26, 2012, the group stated that they would forge ahead with the ballot measure. The group stated they would submit signatures to the Maine Secretary of State's office by the January 30 deadline. Since the measure was an indirect initiated state statute, the Maine Legislature had the choice to enact it or to send it to the ballot for voters to decide.[41]

Legislative review

The House unanimously voted on March 13, 2012 to postpone the bill. This action avoided a public hearing and a recorded vote. The bill was then sent to the Senate, who joined the House in voting to kill it the next day.[42]

Minority Leader Emily Cain (D), who supported gay-marriage, stated, “Democrats believe the people of Maine must decide this question. We support the effort of the thousands of Maine people who signed the petitions to put this question before voters in November. The people of Maine should have an opportunity to cast a direct vote on this matter of fairness and equality for all families.”[43]

Since the measure was rejected by the state legislature, it was then placed on the November 2012 ballot.

See also

Additional reading

Organized from earliest to most recent:


  1. 1.0 1.1, "Maine looks to 2012 gay marriage ballot referendum," June 30, 2011
  2. Percentages reflect the total of 'yes', 'no' and blank votes. Therefore, these calculations do not add up to 100% since blank votes are not displayed.
  3. Online Sentinel, "New wording released for same-sex marriage ballot question," July 27, 2012
  4. QT Salt Lake, "Maine petition gathers signatures to put gay marriage back on the ballot," December 5, 2011 (dead link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 KJ Online, "LePage: Teachers union playing 'political game'," May 26, 2012
  6., "Barney Frank urges Mainers to favor gay marriage," June 10, 2012
  7. My San Antonio, "Maine pro-gay marriage force introduces supporters," July 18, 2012
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Mercury News, "Gay marriage supporters plan referendum in Maine," July 6, 2011 (dead link)
  9. Portland Daily Sun, "Gay marriage: I do, I don't," August 27, 2011 (dead link)
  10., "Maine Launches Marriage Campaign," March 27, 2012
  11. Independent Pub, "Simply, there's no good reason to oppose same-sex marriage," October 28, 2011
  12. 12.0 12.1, "Gay Mainers Look for Chance to Be First to Win Marriage Rights From Voters," January 12, 2012
  13. On Top Mag, "Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree Backs Gay Marriage In House Speech," February 3, 2012
  14. Seacoast Online, "Gay marriage supporters move forward with petition," February 16, 2012
  15. 15.0 15.1 Online Sentinel, "Gay couple pledges $100K to Maine same-sex ballot effort," May 14, 2012
  16. My San Antonio, "Gay bishop backs same-sex marriage in Maine," June 2, 2012
  17. Bangor Daily News, "Same-sex marriage advocates introduce Republican supporters," July 23, 2012
  18. The Republic, "Correction: Gay Marriage-Maine story," September 11, 2012
  19. Morning Sentinel, "More Maine Republicans announce support for gay marriage," October 18, 2012
  20., "Firefighters Support Marriage Equality in New Maine Ad," September 24, 2012
  21. Maine Campus, "Same-sex marriage gains steam on campus," September 7, 2011
  22. Bangor Daily News, "Supporters of same-sex marriage outraise opponents 36-to-1," June 1, 2012
  23. Coshocton Tribune, "Longtime gay marriage opponents form PAC in Maine," March 20, 2012
  24., "Churches fight gay marriage in Maine with pew collections," accessed May 30, 2012
  25. The Portland Press-Herald, "Maine Voices: Same-sex marriage bound for defeat on 2012 ballot," August 2, 2011
  26. It must be noted that the Maine measure would overturn a ban on same-sex marriage. North Carolina's measure, on the other hand, enacted a ban on same-sex marriage.
  27. KJ Online, "Same-sex marriage supporters making faith-based arguments," April 25, 2012
  28. Bangor Daily News, "Supporters of same-sex marriage outraise opponents 36-to-1," June 1, 2012
  29. Think Progress, "Maine Governor Vetoes Teachers Bill, Cites Union’s ‘Endorsement Of Same-Sex Marriage’," May 30, 2012
  30. Press Herald, "Both sides criticize same-sex marriage wording," June 15, 2012
  31. Online Sentinel, "New wording released for same-sex marriage ballot question," July 27, 2012
  32. Biddeford Tribune, "Civil marriage is a right that should belong to all of us," July 7, 2011
  33. Puplic Policy Polling, "Maine Has Voters Remorse on Governor LePage," March 7, 2012
  34., "Maine People's Resource Center Public Opinion Survey," accessed April 11, 2012
  35., "WBUR Maine 2012 Poll," accessed August 17, 2012
  36. Sun Journal, "Poll: Same-sex marriage contest tightening; Michaud, Pingree have comfortable leads," September 20, 2012
  37. Morning Sentinel, "Language for same-sex marriage petitions approved," August 18, 2011
  38., "Equality Maine gears up for 2012 ballot," August 18, 2011 (dead link)
  39. Houston Chronicle, "Maine gay marriage supporters get 5,200 signatures," August 21, 2011
  40. LGBTQ, "Maine gay marriage supporters exceed petition goal to force ballot initiative," November 10, 2011
  41., "Maine Poised for 2nd Public Vote on Gay Marriage," January 26, 2012
  42. Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Maine Senate Sends Gay Marriage Question to Voters," March 14, 2012
  43. Morning Sentinel, "Same-sex marriage closer to November ballot," March 13, 2012