EqualityMaine and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) are announcing later this morning that they are launching a citizen’s initiative to bring marriage equality back to the voters of Maine in 2012.
The announcement comes after 18 months of ongoing public education and two new polls showing 53% of Mainers supporting marriage equality. This afternoon Methodist Pastor Michael Gray will submit the following language to the Sec. of State for review:
“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?”
By submitting language to the Secretary of State to put marriage on the ballot, EqualityMaine and GLAD begin the process of a citizen’s initiative. Once the Sec. of State certifies the language, EqualityMaine will then collect 57,277 signatures to get the question on the ballot in November.
Joining Pastor Gray at a press conference this morning is Betsey Smith, EqualityMaine’s executive director, as well as Lewiston Mayor Laurent F. Gilbert, and Michelle Mondor, a resident of Fort Fairfield, all of whom have evolved to support marriage equality. Smith explains:
“We changed hearts and minds during No on 1, and since then, many more Mainers have changed their hearts and continue to change their minds. We have been going door to door talking to them and hearing their journey towards support. In two separate polls conducted over the last five months, 53 percent of Mainers surveyed said they support letting gay and lesbian couples marry here.”
EqualityMaine has 100 to 150 paid people and volunteers conducting one-on-one conversations throughout the state, with a goal of 40,000 interviews this summer. When the Maine coalition decides that a majority agrees that equality matters, they will press for a new vote.
Ms. Smith says that many of the objections are on religious grounds, especially among Roman Catholics. But, as in New York, the objective is to persuade the many Catholics who lead their lives as they think is right despite the dictates of the hierarchy. Language protecting the rights of religious institutions to follow their beliefs are also critical.
Asked about the New York vote during a Wednesday news conference, President Barack Obama listed his administration’s gay rights credentials before saying that each community and each state is different. This may be true, but allowing discrimination to persist while each state and community discusses the matter is simply wrong.
You can find out more at http://www.whymarriagemattersmaine.com/ and you can watch Pastor Michael Gray talk about his journey from Limbaugh republican to an outspoken supporter of marriage.