Same-sex marriage advocates in Maine have been given the go ahead to start collecting signatures to put the question of legalizing same-sex marriage on the 2012 ballot after the text of the ballot question was approved by Maine’s secretary of state this week.
A coalition of same-sex marriage advocates led by EqualityMaine is set to begin gathering signatures as early as this weekend. If that effort is successful, Maine voters would be asked in November 2012 this question:
“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?”
Pastor Michael Gray of Old Orchard Beach United Methodist Church, one of six original signers of the initiative petition, thanked Secretary of State Charlie Summers for promptly approving the language.
“As campaign volunteers fan out across the state to collect signatures from their fellow Mainers I expect they will encounter thousands of willing signers who have changed their hearts and minds on marriage after getting to know their gay and lesbian neighbors, co-workers and community members — just as I have done,” Gray said.
According to the American Independent, the National Organization for Marriage has already pledged $32,000 to trying to defeat the marriage equality effort.
Mainers narrowly rejected same-sex marriage in 2009. However, campaigners believe this time around there is a clear majority that will favor same-sex marriage, especially with a growing body of support among Maine’s religious leaders. Two recently published polls put support for marriage equality at 53%, the same margin that rejected same-sex marriage in 2009.
Marriage Equality supporters will now have to collect 57,000 signatures to put the question on the ballot, and campaigners have already begun an outreach to try and convince folks in places that rejected same-sex marriage last time around, such as in Lewiston, that marriage equality will bring them no harm and will be of both financial and social benefit for the state.
In related news, campaigners in Oregon are currently in the process of deciding whether to put the question of overturning the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage before voters in November 2012. Read more on that here.