Governor John Baldacci signed a bill yesterday that legalizes same sex marriage in Maine. The state Senate voted 21 to 13 in favor of the bill in a final vote yesterday. The state House voted 89 to 58 earlier this week in favor of the bill.
Baldacci told reporters “In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions….I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.”, according to the Morning Sentinel. Prior to final passage of the bill by the state Senate, it had been unclear whether Governor Baldacci would sign the bill.
The law will go into effect in September, 91 days after the state legislature adjourns. However, under Maine state law, a people’s veto effort can delay the law from going into effect. According to the Bangor Daily News, more than 55,000 valid signatures are needed to place a repeal of the law on the state ballot. A recent poll showed 47.3 percent of Maine residents support the same sex marriage bill and that 49.5 percent oppose the legislation, reported the Associated Press.
Maine is the fifth state to permit same sex marriage in the United States after Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont. Similar legislation is currently under consideration in New York and New Hampshire.