Maine marriage ballot measure submitted

Equality Maine and its supporters announced Thursday (January 26) that they will submit more than 105,000 signatures to the Secretary of State to put on the ballot in November a measure seeking to establish marriage equality for same-sex couples.

The group had collected the signatures more than a month ago, according to a spokesman, but were deliberating over the decision of whether to seek the “Citizens Initiative” this year.

In a press release Thursday, Equality Maine said its polling showed that 54 percent of those surveyed support for same-sex marriage in Maine.

“Many Mainers have changed their minds and want a chance to bring equality and fairness to our state,” said Betsy Smith, executive director of Equality Maine. Maine voters in 2009 narrowly approved a measure to ban a marriage equality law approved by the legislature.

According to Equality Maine, the title of this year’s measure will be “An Act to Allow Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couples and Protect Religious Freedom.” The group proposed for the wording of the ballot measure to read: “Do you favor a law allowing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, and that protects religious freedom by ensuring that no religion or clergy be required to perform such a marriage in violation of their religious beliefs?” That wording will have to be approved by the Secretary of State.

Ben Dudley, executive director of Engage Maine, noted that his group, Equality Maine, and several other organizations working on the measure collected more than twice the 57,000 required to reach the ballot.

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