Maine’s new freedom to marry law, which allows same-sex couples to receive a marriage license, will take effect on Saturday, Dec. 29.
According to the Office of the Secretary of State, the certified election results for the state were signed off on by Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday, Nov. 29. The new law becomes effective 30 days from that date.
“The long wait for marriage for same-sex couples in Maine is almost over,” said Betsy Smith, the executive director of EqualityMaine. “Before the end of this year, all loving and committed couples in Maine will be able to stand before their friends, family and community and make a lasting vow to be there for one another.”
On Nov. 6, Maine became the first state to allow committed same-sex couples to receive a marriage license through a popular vote of the people.
While the law allows for same-sex couples to marry, there are a number of questions remaining concerning the implementation of law and the implications of potential action in the U.S. Supreme Court concerning federal marriage law.
“There is much to celebrate as we move closer to marriage for same-sex couples in Maine,” said Lee Swislow, the executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “We will continue to work closely with state officials and with couples who want to get married to answer as many questions as we can about Maine’s new law.”
Maine Question 1, An Act To Allow Marriage Licenses For Same-Sex Couples And Protect Religious Freedom, was approved by the voters 53 to 47 percent.
-Repeals the provision that limits marriage to one man and one woman.
-Authorizes marriage between any two persons who meet the other marriage requirements of state law.
-Specifies that a marriage between two persons of the same-sex in another state that is valid in that state is valid and must be recognized in Maine and;
-Provides that a member of the clergy is not required to perform and a religious institution is not required to host or perform a marriage in violation of religious beliefs, and that refusal cannot be the basis for a lawsuit or legal liability, and will not affect the tax-exempt status of the religious institution.
GLAD and EqualityMaine will make more information available concerning Maine’s first same-sex marriages when it becomes available. GLAD has written an overview of the new law, which can be found here.