While Democrats in New Jersey are incensed at Governor Chris Christie's proposal to put marriage equality on the ballot in November, in Maine, where both the state legislature and the governor's office are controlled by Republicans, gay-rights groups have been actively pursuing the popular-vote path. And today, they submitted 105,000 signatures to the Secretary of State — vastly more than the 57,277 validated signatures they were required to collect.
In 2009, Maine's then-Democratically controlled legislature and then-Democratic governor actually legalized gay marriage, but a popular referendum negating the law passed 53 percent to 47 percent a few months later. However, supporters of gay marriage have reason to be optimistic this time: As in many places around the country, support for marriage equality has spiked in Maine in recent years. A November 2011 poll showed voters there now backing gay marriage 51-42."Many Mainers have changed their minds and want a chance to bring equality and fairness to our state," says EqualityMaine's Betsy Smith. Here's hoping.