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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
Topic:Marriage
Status:On the ballot
The Maine Same-Sex Marriage Question will appear on the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of Maine as a indirect initiated state statute. The measure would overturn a voter-approved 2009 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state. That 2009 measure banned a legislatively approved law that allowed same sex marriage. The 2012 referendum is scheduled to be filed during the month of July 2011. The organizer of the petition drive is the group called EqualityMaine.[1]

Text of measure

Ballot language

The ballot language that voters will see on the ballot reads as follows:[1][2]

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?”

Support

Supporters

The following are notable supporters of the ballot measure:

Arguments

  • 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."[3]
  • Betsy Smith of EqualityMaine argued that there has been 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."[3]
  • Smith also sated: "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."[4]
  • 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.”[5]
  • According to a column written by writer Bill Cleary, he argues 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."[6]
  • 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.”[7]
  • 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.”[8]
  • 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."[9]

Strategies and petition circulation

  • Equality Maine, reports say, 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.”[10]

Opposition

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

Opponents

  • In March 2012, No Special Rights PAC was formed to oppose the measure.[11]
    • Michael Heath and Paul Madore were the primary organizers of the political action committee.

Arguments

  • Marc Mutty, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, stated that voters have 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."[3]
  • In a special to The Portland Press-Herald, the writer of the column says 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 left-wing 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."[12]
  • 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.”[7]

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Maine ballot measures, 2012

Support

  • 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."[13]

Polls

Polls, 2012 ballot measures
  • On March 7, 2012, a poll was taken by Public Policy Polling showing a lead for same-sex marriage support. The poll was taken in early March, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.[14]
  • 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.[15]
Legend

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
March 2-4, 2012 Public Policy Polling 47% 32% 21% 1,256
Mar. 31 - Apr. 2, 2012 Maine People's Resource Center 58% 40% 2% 993
June 13 - June 14, 2012 The MassINC Polling Group 53% 36% 9% 506
Sept. 15-17, 2012 Maine People’s Resource Center 53% 47% 4% 856

Path to the ballot

In order for the measure to be placed on the statewide ballot, 57,277 signatures need to be submitted by the January 30, 2012 petition drive deadline. Signatures must be obtained from registered voters in the state. The Maine Secretary of State approved the ballot language for the measure on August 17, 2011, allowing supporters to circulate petitions for signatures.[16]

Reports out the state have claimed that supporters plan 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.[17][18]

According to reports, Equality Maine collected about 100,000 signatures, 36,000 of those signatures were collected on Election Day, surpassing the required number. Despite the success in signature gathering, the group will decide whether to pursue the measure's ballot access in January 2012.[19]

On January 26, 2012, the group stated that they would indeed 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.[20]

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.[21]

Minority Leader Emily Cain (D), who supports 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.”[22]

See also

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 365gay.com, "Maine looks to 2012 gay marriage ballot referendum", June 30, 2011
  2. QT Salt Lake, "Maine petition gathers signatures to put gay marriage back on the ballot", December 5, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Mercury News, "Gay marriage supporters plan referendum in Maine", July 6, 2011
  4. Portland Daily Sun, "Gay marriage: I do, I don't", August 27, 2011
  5. ACLU.org, "Maine Launches Marriage Campaign", March 27, 2012
  6. Independent Pub, "Simply, there's no good reason to oppose same-sex marriage", October 28, 2011
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bloomberg.com, "Gay Mainers Look for Chance to Be First to Win Marriage Rights From Voters", January 12, 2012
  8. On Top Mag, "Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree Backs Gay Marriage In House Speech", February 3, 2012
  9. Seacoast Online, "Gay marriage supporters move forward with petition", February 16, 2012
  10. Maine Campus, "Same-sex marriage gains steam on campus", September 7, 2011
  11. Coshocton Tribune, "Longtime gay marriage opponents form PAC in Maine", March 20, 2012
  12. The Portland Press-Herald, "Maine Voices: Same-sex marriage bound for defeat on 2012 ballot", August 2, 2011
  13. Biddeford Tribune, "Civil marriage is a right that should belong to all of us", July 7, 2011
  14. Puplic Policy Polling, "Maine Has Voters Remorse on Governor LePage", March 7, 2012
  15. MPRC.com, "Maine People's Resource Center Public Opinion Survey", Retrieved April 11, 2012
  16. Morning Sentinel, "Language for same-sex marriage petitions approved", August 18, 2011
  17. WGME.com, "Equality Maine gears up for 2012 ballot", August 18, 2011
  18. Houston Chronicle, "Maine gay marriage supporters get 5,200 signatures", August 21, 2011
  19. LGBTQ Nation.com, "Maine gay marriage supporters exceed petition goal to force ballot initiative", November 10, 2011
  20. Governing.com, "Maine Poised for 2nd Public Vote on Gay Marriage", January 26, 2012
  21. Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Maine Senate Sends Gay Marriage Question to Voters," March 14, 2012
  22. Morning Sentinel, "Same-sex marriage closer to November ballot," March 13, 2012