Tag Archives: maine gay marriage

Maine gov. candidates give views on gay marriage

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The five candidates for governor are divided on gay marriage in Maine, but most are cool to downright icy on casino gambling even as residents prepare to vote on a proposed $165 million casino and resort in the hills of western Maine.

An Associated Press survey of Blaine House contestants also shows sentiment for reducing education costs and making health care revisions despite the overhaul enacted by Congress.

Candidates responding to five questions in a survey by the AP differed most sharply when asked whether they would propose or support a new law recognizing gay marriage a year after voters rejected a same-sex marriage law adopted by the Maine Legislature.

Two of the candidates — Democrat Libby Mitchell and independent Eliot Cutler — say they support efforts to recognize same-sex marriages.

“Yes, I will continue to lead on this issue until Maine ends discrimination in our marriage laws,” Mitchell said. “It is a matter of human fairness and constitutional fairness and it is past time for Maine to adopt marriage equality.”

Cutler said he also strongly supports marriage equality “as matter of equal protection under the law.”

“I don’t believe that religion should be making laws for government, or that government should be making laws for religion,” said Cutler.

Republican Paul LePage said he would not propose such a change, saying, “I support and trust the voters’ decision to keep the current law defining marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman.”

Independent Shawn Moody said he wouldn’t sign a gay marriage law unless it had a provision sending it to voters. Fellow independent Kevin Scott said only that he would work with all sides “to propose a law that ensures we are protecting all Maine people equally.”

There was little disagreement on casino gambling. A Nov. 3 referendum asks whether a casino in Oxford County should be allowed. Three previous proposals have been rejected by voters.

Mitchell, Cutler and Moody said flatly they oppose casino gambling. Mitchell called it the wrong way to achieve economic development, while Cutler said it would do nothing to enhance Maine’s quality of life or differentiate Maine from other states. Moody said there are better economic development tools.

LePage, saying gaming expansion “is not high on my radar screen,” said he would support voters’ decision if they endorse it. Scott dodged the Oxford question, but said he’d work with the Legislature to create a casino gambling law that works in Maine’s best interest.

With changes in health care regulation beginning to take effect, candidates were asked whether the state should hold off on its own reforms until the impact of the federal law becomes clear. The gubernatorial candidates’ responses were varied.

LePage, the favored candidate of many tea party activists who loathe the federal changes, said more competition and more health insurance choices are needed before the “disastrous” changes pushed by President Barack Obama take hold. He supports allowing consumers to buy plans available in other New England states to give them more options.

Mitchell said the state should move swiftly to create health insurance exchanges as mandated by the federal law, allowing businesses and individuals to pool together and access lower costs.

Cutler called for “substantive” changes as proposed in his wellness plan but said he believes the federal law offers the state opportunities to be innovative in improving health care.

Moody, like LePage, sees a need for more competition to give consumers more choices. Scott said he would move ahead with innovations despite the Obama law’s changes.

While Maine lawmakers have passed a school consolidation law, efforts to cut public education costs should continue, candidates said. Scott goes so far as to call for a fresh look at the complex issue of school funding itself.

LePage sees a “bloated education bureaucracy” that’s ripe for cuts, and called for more focus on giving teachers and classrooms what they need to succeed. Mitchell said the state and school districts should work together to further cut administrative costs, saying “we need to move money from administrators to students.”

Cutler said that while further efficiencies are needed, “forced consolidation isn’t the answer.” Moody agrees consolidation is not the best route and efficiencies can be found elsewhere.

Three of the candidates — LePage, Cutler and Scott — said they favor charter schools, while Mitchell and Moody say they oppose them. Lawmakers last session rejected a bill to the independently run, public schools, which are allowed in most other states.

Appeals judge stays Maine gay marriage order

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A federal appeals judge has blocked an order that Maine officials be given information about donors who helped finance a successful campaign to repeal Maine’s gay marriage law.

Friday’s U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals order remains in effect until a further order of the court.

A magistrate judge earlier this week recommended that the National Organization for Marriage turn over information about donors and fundraising to the Maine attorney general’s office. NOM was a major donor to last fall’s referendum campaign to repeal Maine’s law legalizing gay marriage.

Just before the law was repealed by voters, the state ethics commission decided to investigate whether the National Organization for Marriage should have been required to submit names of its donors. NOM maintained that release of names would violate donors’ First Amendment rights.

Maine group penalized for gay marriage support

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A Maine social service agency that works with the homeless is losing $50,000 in grants from the Catholic church for supporting same sex marriage.

The Portland Press Herald says the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and a national Catholic group are withdrawing support from the Preble Street Homeless Voices for Justice program.

The church says Preble Street violated its grant agreement by supporting Maine’s “No on 1” campaign last fall that overturned a gay marriage law.

Preble Street lost $17,400 this year and $33,000 it had expected to receive next year.

The diocese says agencies that receive funding must agree to conform to the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church and that Preble Street agreed to that.

Maine rescue effort fails at ballot box

PORTLAND, Maine — The stars seemed aligned for supporters of gay marriage. They had Maine’s governor, legislative leaders and major newspapers on their side, plus a huge edge in campaign funding. So losing a landmark referendum was a devastating blow for activists in Maine and nationwide.

“Our freedoms have been stripped away, but we must and will win them back,” said Jennifer Chrisler of the Family Equality Council in Boston.

In an election that had been billed for weeks as too close to call, the northeastern state’s often unpredictable voters repealed a state law Nov. 3 that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed. Gay marriage has now lost in all 31 states in which it has been put to a popular vote — a trend that the gay-rights movement had believed it could end in Maine.

“Today’s heartbreaking defeat unfortunately shows that lies and fear can still win at the ballot box,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the D.C.-based National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Gay-marriage foes had 53 percent of the vote. They prevailed in many of Maine’s far-flung small towns and lost by a less-than-expected margin in the state’s biggest city, Portland.

“The institution of marriage has been preserved in Maine and across the nation,” declared Frank Schubert, chief organizer for the winning side.

Attention will now turn to other states, including California — where Schubert was an instrumental strategist a year ago in the successful campaign to overturn -ordered same-sex marriage.

Gay-rights activists have been planning to go back to the ballot in California, either in 2010 or 2012, in another attempt to legalize gay marriage. But the Maine result was not the victory they had been hoping for to fire up their troops.

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, a conservative group that steered substantial funds to fight gay marriage in both California and Maine, was elated by the Nov. 3 vote, saying it shows “that even in a New England state, if the voters have a chance to have their say, they’re going to protect and defend the commonsense definition of marriage.”

At issue in the referendum was a law passed by the Maine Legislature last spring that would have allowed gays to wed. The law was put on hold after conservatives launched a petition drive to repeal it.

Five other states have legalized gay marriage — Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Iowa — but all did so through legislation or court rulings, not by popular vote.

Richard Socarides, who was an adviser on gay-rights issues in the Clinton administration, said the loss in Maine should prompt gay-rights leaders to reconsider their state-by-state strategy on marriage and shift instead to lobbying for changes on the federal level that expand recognition of same-sex couples.

In Maine, gay-marriage supporters conceded early Nov. 4.

“I am proud of the thousands of Mainers who knocked on doors, made phone calls and talked to their family, friends and neighbors about the basic premise of treating all Maine families equally,” said Jesse Connolly of the No on 1 campaign. “And I’m proud of this campaign because the stories we told and the images we shared were of real Mainers — parents who stood up for their children, and couples who simply wanted to marry the person they love.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” Connolly continued. “For next week, and next month, and next year — until all Maine families are treated equally.”

A similar note was sounded by Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, who signed the bill into law.

“If we don’t get to the top of the mountain tonight, we’ve made a significant stride. And we’re going to get there,” he said. “We will get to the top of the mountain.”

Both sides in Maine drew volunteers and contributions from out of state, but the money edge went to the campaign in defense of gay marriage, Protect Maine Equality. It raised $4 million, compared with $2.5 million for Stand for Marriage Maine.

As was the case in the Proposition 8 fight in California, a substantial amount of money to repeal the legislation came from religious organizations and institutions, specifically the Catholic Church.

On Nov. 4, the leader of the Catholic Church in Maine, Bishop Richard Malone, thanked Mainers for reaffirming marriage as it’s been understood “for millennia by civilizations and religions around the world.”