Marriage-Equality Advocates Not Thrilled With Language In Maine Referendum Ballot

Mainers United for Marriage is happy that the state’s upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage may allow gay and lesbian couples to be legally recognized, but it’s got a bone to pick with the ballot language released last week by Maine’s Secretary of State.


The wording currently proposed by the Secretary of State reads: “Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

But supporters says the ballot doesn’t make it clear the measure purposely limited to civil marriage and would protect clergy from performing same-sex weddings if it went against their religious principles.

“The question, as currently drafted, falls short,” said MUM campaign manager Matt McTighe. “It fails to address important parts of the initiative that will be on the ballot in November.”

“The current draft ballot language—while apparently straightforward—is not faithful to the intent of this initiative, and it does not capture the additional religious protections that are included in the citizens initiative,” said pastor Michael Gray of Old Orchard Beach United Methodist Church, who supports marriage equality. “I could not, in good faith, support this initiative if it did not make explicit that no church, member of the clergy or other religious institution can be required to perform or host any marriage that is a violation of their religious beliefs. Religious freedom matters to me and other members of the Mainers United for Marriage coalition.”

McTighe says Mainers United for Marriage plan to submit a formal response to the draft question ” “to more accurately reflect the citizen’s initiative that was signed by more than 105,000 Mainers,” during the 30-day public comment period ending July 16.

Comments on the proposed question may be filed with the Secretary of State by email at [email protected]; by mail at Secretary of State, Attn: Public Comment, 148 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0148; or by hand at the Secretary of State’s Office. Public comments must be received by 5pm on Monday, July 16.

Photo: Cameron Nordholm