Published Date Written by David CarkhuffBy a matter of mere minutes, Maine won a place in the history books as the first state to approve a citizen's initiative that allows same-sex couples to marry.
"We were the first state, we came in before Maryland," said David Farmer, spokesman for Mainers United for Marriage, a group spearheading Question 1 on Tuesday's ballot.
"We beat Maryland by a few minutes," he added. "We are the first to have proactively brought a citizen's initiative, and we are the first to have successfully passed one."
With 49 percent of precincts reporting, 54 percent of Mainers voted in support of same-sex marriage, according to unofficial results issued by The Associated Press.
"I think that the voters spoke with a loud voice and we saw the trend that not only was Maine successful, so was Washington and Maryland, and in a slightly different degree, Minnesota," Farmer said.
Legal requirements mean early to mid-December is the soonest Maine's law could take effect, or late January as the outside for the law's implementation, Farmer estimated.
"The law is that the Secretary of State has 20 days to certify the election, and the governor has 10 days to sign off on the certification, so 30 days or less, and then once that's done, once the governor signs off on the certification, the law will take effect 30 days later," he said. "It is not discretionary, the governor cannot veto the bill or anything like that. It really is an administrative process."
Washington and Maryland fought back repeal of legislative approval of same-sex marriage in an election that leaned heavily toward progressive causes and candidates.
But Farmer said "a consensus is developing" on gay marriage in America.
Others weren't so sure.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, issued a statement Wednesday, which read, in part, "Obviously we are very disappointed in losing four tough election battles by narrow margins. We knew long ago that we faced a difficult political landscape with the four marriage battles occurring in four of the deepest-blue states in America. As our opponents built a huge financial advantage, the odds became even steeper. We ran strong campaigns and nearly prevailed in a very difficult environment, significantly out-performing the GOP ticket in every state. Despite the fact that NOM was able to contribute a record amount to the campaigns (over $5.5 million), we were still heavily outspent, by a margin of at least four-to-one. We were fighting the entirety of the political establishment in most of the states, including sitting governors in three of the states who campaigned heavily for gay marriage."
Bishop Richard J. Malone, Apostolic Administrator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, wrote, "I am deeply disappointed that a majority of Maine voters have redefined marriage from what we have understood it to be for millennia by civilizations and religions around the world. I am thankful for those who engaged in sincere and civil discourse on this matter of such serious consequence to our society. I am grateful to those who supported and recognize the value of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. I especially want to thank the Catholic faithful who did not abandon Catholic teachings on the nature of marriage."
Malone added, "I trust that those who voted for such a radical change did so out of concern for our brothers and sisters who struggle with same-sex attraction. Respect and acceptance of all people regardless of sexual orientation is not a point of controversy. It is a teaching of the church, but so is the authentic meaning and definition of marriage."
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said, "This is a landmark election for marriage equality and we will forever look back at this year as a critical turning point in the movement for full citizenship for LGBT people. Voters in Maine came to the common-sense conclusion that all people deserve the ability to make loving, lifelong commitments through marriage."
Former Maine Governor John Baldacci said, "I couldn't be prouder to be part of the Catholic voices that helped make same-sex marriage the law in Maine again. There's no question in my mind that Catholics for Marriage Equality made a decisive difference in Catholic centers like Auburn, Augusta and Biddeford that previously voted against marriage equality."
Sharon Groves, director of religion and faith at the Human Rights Campaign, said in Portland after the vote was announced, "I see first-hand the importance of faith organizing in the marriage states this I am so impressed by Catholics for Marriage Equality, who, with few financial resources and an all-volunteer board, created and implemented a Catholic initiated, Pro-Catholic engagement strategy."
Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, referred in passing to a 2009 vote that repealed legislatively approved gay marriage in Maine, while celebrating Tuesday night's victory.
"Three years ago, Maine made history as the first state to pass marriage through a state legislature and have it signed into law by the governor," he said. "Maine made history again this year when we became the first state to bring a citizen's initiative to voters in support of the freedom to marry. And we have made history tonight. For the first time, we have won marriage at the ballot box."