The very day the bill reached his desk, Maine governor John Baldacci signed marriage equality into law, making the state the fifth in the union where couples of the same sex can legally wed. Baldacci had previously opposed gay marriage, but in recent months said his conscience had been swayed. “This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs,” he said. “It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of church and state … It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine’s civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government.” Maine is now the first state where such a law has been approved by both houses of the state legislature and signed by the governor. In Iowa, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, marriage equality was made possible by the rulings of state supreme courts. In Vermont, governor Jim Douglas vetoed one such bill but was overruled by the state congress. The next pending marriage-equality bills are in New Hampshire — where both state bodies approved it and are poised to send the measure to governor John Lynch, who has yet to say whether he will sign it — and here in New York State, where the Assembly is expected to pass a bill next week proposed by governor Paterson.
Baldacci signs same-sex marriage into law [Portland Press Herald]