Joint Judiciary Committee votes to recognize marriage for lesbian and gay couples in the state bill now moves to Senate floor.
Washington - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised Maine's Joint Committee on Judiciary for its vote on Tuesday in favor of legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry under state law. The committee voted 11-2-1 in favor of the legislation one committee member voted for the legislation with a proposed amendment that would place the measure before voters if it is enacted into law.
"This is an exciting vote, and it's great to see strong support for the principle that all loving, committed couples in Maine ought to have the equal right to marry," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We congratulate the committee, as well as Equality Maine for its great work to build support for equality. We hope that this bill will soon pass the Senate and House and be enacted into law. April has been a great month for equality, and we're thrilled to see Maine take action to become the latest state to move toward recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples."
The Human Rights Campaign has had a field organizer on the ground in Maine for the past three months working with Equality Maine to build support for the marriage legislation. The full Senate is expected to vote on the marriage bill soon, and the House could take action in May.
A new CBS/New York Times poll released Tuesday shows that support for marriage equality across the country has risen nine points in the last month. The new poll, conducted April 22-26, 2009, shows that 42% of Americans now say that same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry. That number is up nine points from the month earlier when only 33% support marriage equality for same-sex couples. More information on the poll can be read by going here: http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/04/27/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry4972643.shtml.
Four states have recognized marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont (effective September 1, 2009). Earlier this month, Iowa's state supreme court unanimously ruled that the state constitution guarantees same-sex couples the equal right to marry. On April 7, Vermont's legislature overrode Gov. Douglas' veto, making Vermont the first state to recognize marriage equality through the legislative process. Last week, Connecticut enacted a bill codifying the state supreme court's October 2008 decision recognizing marriage for same-sex couples.
New York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in another jurisdiction. California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. The Proposition 8 vote has been challenged in court a decision by the state supreme court is expected by June.
Legislatures in New Hampshire and New York are considering legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry under state law. Maine currently provides same-sex couples with access to limited rights and benefits through a domestic partner registry. Lesbian and gay couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. To learn more about state by state legislation visit: www.hrc.org/state-laws.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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