Maine's gay rights & gay marriage history revisited

10:08 AM, Oct 30, 2012   |    comments
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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- On November 6th, Mainers will again go to the polls to vote on the issue of gay marriage.  It will be the second time in the past four years voters have been asked to weigh-in on the issue, but by no means is the subject of gay rights new to Maine's political landscape.

The Maine Legislature first looked into protecting people from being discriminated against based on their sexual preference back in 1977, and the topic was brought before committees in both houses several times in the 1980's and early 1990's.

In May of 1992, the city of Portland passed the state's first municipal gay rights ordinance, which voters upheld by a margin of more than 5,000 votes that fall. 

Other communities followed suit with mixed results.  The city of Lewiston passed a similar ordinance in 1993, but the measure was repealed by voters that fall.

In 2002, the city of Westbrook became the 12th community in the state to approve an anti-discrimination ordinance.

While all that work was happening at the local level, the issue of gay rights went before voters statewide in 1995.  That referendum sought to prevent municipalities from enacting their own gay rights ordinances.  The law was defeated.

In 2005, the Maine legislature passed an anti-discrimination law.  Governor John Baldacci signed the bill, but before it could become law, Maine voters would be asked to signal their approval or disapproval at the ballot box.  The bid to repeal the law failed.

In 2009, Governor Baldacci signed a marriage equality bill with the state becoming the first in the nation to give approval to gay marriage in the legislature.  That November, voters rejected the measure by a 53 to 47% margin, setting the stage for this fall's referendum on the issue.


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