Marry-land to become 8th state to legalize same-sex marriage
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a longtime supporter of the state's push for marriage equality, is expected to sign the bill into law this Thursday, making Maryland the eighth state in the country to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Pushes for and against similar laws continue in other states in New England and across the nation.
Same-sex marriage advocates in Maine are celebrating the Feb. 23 news that marriage equality will be back at the ballot box in a Citizens Initiative this November. Maine's Secretary of State Charlie Summers confirmed Thursday that supporters had collected enough signatures to allow a ballot measure on the issue this year. If passed in November, Maine's gay and lesbian couples will gain the right to marry in the Pine Tree State. More than 105,000 signatures were submitted for verification at the end of January.
"We're one step closer to winning marriage for lesbian and gay couples in Maine!" EqualityMaine field director Amy Mello wrote in a message to supporters. "We're working to make history and win marriage at the ballot."
"Over the past few years, marriage supporters have been talking to their friends, families, coworkers and neighbors about why marriage matters," said Marc Solomon, national campaign director at Freedom to Marry. "As we work to win at the ballot, Freedom to Marry will be there every step of the way alongside Equality Maine, GLAD, and others to continue telling the stories of why marriage matters to loving, committed gay and lesbian couples in Maine, and secure a win at the ballot this November."
There's no doubt Mainers have changed their minds on marriage equality since the Pine Tree State's first try at legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples. "Mainers have changed their minds on this issue," Betsy Smith, executive director of Equality Maine, told the Associated Press. "They want the chance to right a wrong."
Marriage advocates told the AP that 54 percent of respondents in a December survey of 800 likely voters favored legalizing same-sex marriage.
It looks like a bill repealing New Hampshire's same-sex marriage law has a good chance of passing in the Republican-controlled House and Senate. Democrat Gov. John Lynch has vowed, however, to veto the measure should it come to his desk, and it's unclear whether the Legislature will be able to override said veto.
If the repeal does pass, New Hampshire would become the first state whose legislature reversed itself on its own marriage equality decision-whether or not the move is supported by voters.
Fifty-nine percent of New Hampshire residents support the state's law allowing same-sex marriage, according to results of a WMUR/UNH Survey Center Granite State Poll released Feb. 7.
"We've now had a full year's worth of polls on the question of repealing our marriage equality law and the result is always the same-voters do not want the legislature messing with this law," said Standing Up for NH Families co-chair Craig Stowell. "This is not a close call. By a consistent margin of nearly two-to-one, voters are telling legislators to leave this popular law alone and get back to work on the economic challenges of our day."
The latest poll demonstrated that support for marriage equality has remained strong over the past year, despite attempts from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to overturn the state's law allowing same-sex marriage.
"We can debate this issue forever," said Stowell, "but if legislators really do what they say-which is to listen to their constituents-they'll stop this effort to turn back the clock and allow all New Hampshire families to be treated equally under the law. It's time to listen to the people of New Hampshire."
While Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to sign Maryland's bill legalizing same-sex marriage into law this week, opponents are readying their response, promising a voter referendum on the issue this November. Opponents of same-sex marriage have to collect 55,736 valid signatures for the issue to reach the ballot.
Same-sex marriage supporters have vowed to uphold the law.
The seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage could-similarly to Maryland-face a voter referendum on the issue this fall. Opponents to marriage equality have until June 6 to collect 120,000 valid voter signatures for the issue to appear at the ballot box.