Bill now moves to Maine House of Representatives.
Washington - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised the Maine state Senate for its vote today in favor of legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry under state law. The state Senate voted 20 - 15 in favor of the measure, which now moves to the House of Representatives. The Senate defeated an amendment to the bill that proposed putting the question of marriage equality for same-sex couples before voters.
"It seems like every day another state legislative body is voting in favor of marriage equality, recognizing that all loving, committed couples, and their families, deserve equal rights and responsibilities under the law. It's increasingly clear that legislators across the nation understand that it's simply the right thing to do," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We congratulate the bill's sponsor, Senator Dennis Damon, as well as the other senators who voted in favor of this important legislation, as well as Equality Maine for its great work in building support for equality. We hope that this bill will soon pass the House and be enacted into law."
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 House of Representatives is expected to take up the measure within the next two weeks.
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 also considering legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry under state law. New Hampshire's state Senate voted yesterday in favor of legislation to recognize marriage for same-sex couples.
Maine currently provides same-sex couples with access to limited rights and benefits through a domestic partner registry.
Same-sex 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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