With the stoke of his pen today, Democratic Gov. John Baldacci made Maine the fifth state to approve gay marriage. For us who support marriage equality, this is another step in the movement toward recognizing the dignity of all gay and lesbian Americans.
Earlier today, Maine’s Senate voted 21-13, with one abstention, for a bill that authorized marriage between any “two people” rather than between “one man and one woman.” The House had passed the bill yesterday.
Opposition was surprisingly limited with Republican Sen. Debra Plowman arguing that the bill was being passed “at the expense of the people of faith.” But Democrat Senate Majority Leader Philip Bartlett II said the bill does not compel religious institutions to recognize gay marriage. “We respect religious liberties. … This is long overdue,” said Bartlett.
Let’s be clear, nothing is different in Maine for churches this afternoon than it was yesterday. Houses of worship can still reject or accept gay marriage. People of faith can continue to hate us or support us. What they can no longer do is tell the state of Maine who can and who can’t enter into a legal civil marriage.
And for that, I’m thrilled!