• Marriage in Maine

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: Jun 30 2011
Contact: Timothy Rose, Communications Director, 207.761.3732 ex.17

LGBT Advocates, religious and political allies continue the journey toward marriage equality in Maine

 

LGBT Advocates, religious and political allies continue the journey toward marriage equality in Maine

“Mainers have changed their hearts and continue to change their minds”

 

Lewiston – Today, EqualityMaine and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders were joined by Lewiston Mayor Laurent F. Gilbert, Sr. and United Methodist Pastor Michael Gray in announcing that they will be redoubling their efforts to continue leading Maine on its journey toward marriage equality in the state. The centerpiece of this work will be a citizen initiative for a law that would allow same-sex couples to marry in Maine.

 

“As a pastor whose faith has been the guiding force throughout my adult life, I had a very traditional view of what marriage meant. But over time, as I met more gay and lesbian couples, including some who are active in my parish, I came to learn that gay people are no different from me,” said Pastor Gray, of Old Orchard Beach United Methodist Church. “I now realize that the love and commitment in their relationships is as strong as the love and commitment my wife and I share, and I support their right to marry if they are lucky enough to find someone they love.” 

 

Pastor Gray’s journey toward supporting marriage equality is typical of many Mainers. Michelle Mondor, a Catholic grandmother from Fort Fairfield, also spoke during a press conference at Lewiston City Hall about her evolution on the issue. Many others are still grappling with the issue and are open to being educated about the importance of marriage for all Maine families.

 

“My wife and I can certainly relate to that since we’ve had to reconcile the teachings of our Catholic Church with our support for full equality for everyone,” said Mayor Gilbert. “I have faith in the people of Maine that they will do the right thing and support the freedom to marry.” 

 

The announcement comes after 18 months of public education about why marriage matters to gay and lesbian Mainers – a process that began with the 2009 No on 1 campaign – and canvassing and polling that strongly indicates a significant number of Mainers have had a change of heart on extending civil marriage rights to loving, committed same-sex couples in the state.

 

“We changed hearts and minds during No on 1, and since then, many more Mainers have changed their hearts and continue to change their minds,” said Betsy Smith, executive director of EqualityMaine. “We have been going door to door talking to them and hearing their journey towards support. In two separate polls conducted over the last five months, 53 percent of Mainers surveyed said they support letting gay and lesbian couples marry here.”

 

Pastor Gray will submit the written application for the citizen initiative, which specifies that no clergy or religious institution will be forced to marry couples against their faith teachings, to the Secretary of State this afternoon.

 

Once the Secretary of State approves the wording of the initiative, EqualityMaine will begin the process of collecting the more than 57,277 signatures currently required to put it on the November 2012 ballot. The text of the question Gray will submit reads, “Do you favor a law allowing marriage licenses for same-sex couples that protects religious freedom by ensuring no religion or clergy be required to perform such a marriage in violation of their religious beliefs?”

 

EqualityMaine and GLAD will also ratchet up their public education efforts with the launch of a new website, WhyMarriageMattersMaine.org.

 

“In the coming months we’re going to continue to help same-sex couples, their family members and their friends share their stories and talk about why marriage matters to them,” said Matt McTighe, Maine director of public education for GLAD. We know that as more people come to understand the love and commitment that gay and lesbian couples share, we will continue to change hearts and minds.”

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