Maine gay marriage petition signatures given green light

The ability for Maine voters to decide whether or not gay marriage will remain legal in their state cleared its final hurdle Wednesday. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s office was facing a Friday deadline to certify the petitions for the “people’s veto” referendum to be placed on the Nov. 3rd ballot. Gay marriage opponents, operating under the banner of Yes on 1/Stand for Marriage Maine, collected just over 100,000 signatures. A total of 55,087 validated signatures were needed to officially trigger the vote. Dunlap’s office stopped to counting at 60,391 and officially declared the ballot measure. Both Stand for Marriage Maine and No on 1/Protect Maine Equality, which favors gay marriage, have been operating for weeks assuming the vote would move ahead. The move toward the ballot measure was triggered by the approval of gay marriage by Gov. John Baldacci and the Maine Legislature earlier this year. Maine has a constitutional provision whereby citizens can challenge new laws if they collect enough registered voters’ signatures. “More than 100,000 Mainers signed petitions to do what the legislature and governor did not: allow the people of Maine to participate in the decision of legalizing homosexual marriage,” said Marc Mutty, Stand for Marriage Maine campaign chairman, in a statement. “Preserving the definition of marriage as between a man and woman is far too important an issue to be left solely in the hands of elected officials, without the input, consent or, perhaps, even knowledge of Mainers.” Bob Emrich was a leading petition organizer and pastor from Plymouth, and is now a central figure for Stand for Marriage Maine. “It is fitting to thank the more than 1,000 volunteer Mainers who circulated these petitions statewide, and to thank the registered Maine voters who signed them. The value of their work is made plain today,” Emrich said. “It means the issue of homosexual marriage and its consequences has been wrested from the hands of politicians and placed in the hands of the voters. “We are confident that Mainers will support Question 1 and restore traditional marriage like thirty other states have done before us.” Gov. Baldacci reiterated his support for the bill. “I fully support this legislation and believe it guarantees that all Maine citizens are treated equally under our state’s civil marriage laws,” Baldacci said, according to the Associated Press. “But I also have a constitutional obligation to set the date for the election once the secretary of state has certified that enough signatures have been submitted.” Jesse Connolly, the campaign manager for No on 1, contended the number of petition signatories was artificially inflated because of the use of professional signature gatherers. “Theirs is a cynical, pay-for-every signature approach that doesn’t reflect the homegrown values of our state,” he said in a statement. Links: Yes on 1/Stand for Marriage Maine: http://www.standformarriagemaine.com/ No on 1/Protect Maine Equality: http://www.protectmaineequality.org

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