Maine Lawmakers Send Same-Sex Marriage Measure to Ballot; Polls Show Voters Likely to Approve

A citizen initiative to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine is headed for the November ballot, the Kennebec Journal reports:

MaineThe Maine House of Representatives unanimously voted this morning to indefinitely postpone the bill, which has the effect of sending it directly to voters. House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, recognized Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, to make the motion. Cain is a supporter of gay-marriage.

"We just think this should be decided by the voters," said Cain's spokeswoman Jodi Quintero. "We would like to see this citizen initiative succeed."

The action by the House avoids a public hearing and a recorded vote by lawmakers. In 2009, the Legislature, which was then controlled by Democrats, held a daylong hearing at the Augusta Civic Center where hundreds of people testified on both sides of the issue.

MEA recent poll from PPP shows that Maine voters are likely to approve it:

It looks like Maine voters will reverse their 2009 decision and legalize gay marriage in the state this fall. 54% think that gay marriage should be legal to only 41% who think it should be illegal. And when we asked about the issue using the exact language voters will see on the ballot this fall, they say they're inclined to support the referendum by a 47-32 margin.

There's some indication that the exact ballot language is confusing people a little at this point. Only 67% of those who support gay marriage in general say they'll vote yes while 12% say they'll not and 21% are not sure. At the same time just 60% of those who oppose gay marriage generally say they'll vote against the proposed referendum, while 24% say they'll vote for it and 16% are not sure. My guess is at the end of the day voters will see this as a straight referendum on gay marriage regardless of what the language on the ballot says- and the 54/41 number bodes well for pro-equality voters.

Republicans' opinions are pretty much the same as they were in 2009. But Democrats' support for gay marriage has increased slightly, from 71% to 78%. And more importantly independents have gone from voting against gay marriage 52/46 three years ago to now supporting it by a 57/36 margin.


  1. Mike C. says

    I think these polls show anything BUT likely approval for gay marriage. Time and time again referendums have shown that despite what initial polls say, people will be goaded into voting against marriage equality at the ballot box. Once the NOM bus rolls in with its fear-mongering commercials about gay sex in kindergarten, polls on the matter basically become worthless

  2. MikeH says

    Well, one can only hope… the big question is whether or not the electorate will fall for the inevitable “save the children from the evil gay lifestyle” commercials… will be interesting to see if the tide finally turns this year…

  3. Gregv says

    @MikeC: What tends to happen on election day is that old people turn out to vote more than young people (who are less likely to be retired and more likely to have work or classes to make it difficult to wait in line at a voting station) and that the most hard-core bigots turn out in disproportionate numbers, motivated by a religious fervor to do whatever the man at the pulpit is telling them.
    These factors don’t mean that polls are useless, but, rather, that we tend to need at least a 6% advantage over our opponents in order to actually win at the voting booths.

    While holding a vote for or against civil rights for minorities is abhorrent, it would still be a huge victory to see states start to right the wrong that has been done. Several states just very narrowly passed their anti-gay measures in probably the last election that they would ever be able to get away with it. A victory in Maine would end the “30 states out of 30″ rhetoric that anti-gay groups are so fond of using. Victories in New Jersey and Washington would be even sweeter.

  4. KP says

    Right now, the message from major LGBT organizations and activists is “You can’t put Civil Rights to a vote”. If we win in Maine, will that change to “Oh wait, we totally can?” Seems a bit hyprocritical (Its kind of a yo-yo message too – before the Prop 8 case in CA, most of Gay Inc. was considering another ballot initiaive. Once Perry vs. Brown was announced, ballot initatives were all of a sudden off the table. Maybe its time we stopped listening to Gay Inc.)

    I like how both the Democrats and Republicans in Maine tossed the bill to the voters. Neither side wants to get their hands dirty it seems. I think if most politicans were honest, both the Dems and Repubs would like the gay marriage issue to just disappear. Unfortunately for them, it won’t until they make it legal for all.

  5. Mohammed says

    Why does the gay press get excited by these polls every time? Polls have consistently overestimated support for gay marriage and underestimated the prevalence and strength of the opposition at the ballot box. If anything, I would think 55 percent support is rather weak, since there have times when polls showed 55 percent support for pro-gay positions, yet on election day, the anti-gay side won. As many have said, in order to feel confident about voter referenda, the pro-gay side needs to be polling at at least 60 percent.

  6. daftpunkydavid says

    kp — i share some of your frustration about voting on the civil rights of the lgbt minority; however, i think your analysis is slightly wrong. in maine, this is not a choice we, or gay inc., made for no reason. we were essentially backed up into a corner by the 2009 events, when the legislature passed, and then the public rescinded, marriage equality; and whatever the result, it is still wrong to put civil rights of a minority to a vote. so no hypocrisy there. i kind of feel it is a little precipitated; i would have waited a couple more years, but i’m not in maine, so i’m no authority on this.

  7. KP says

    Daft, I didn’t really word my comment correctly. I understand where the Maine ballot initiative is coming from – it is a response to a previous ballot initiative, not a spontaneous initiative. My concern is that if it passes, then the rally cry will change and all of a sudden pro-gay marriage ballot initiatives will start appearing out of the woodwork. I understand it is wrong to put civil rights to a vote but sometimes I feel some people only feel that way because we have lost at the polls. If we had won all 30 ballot initiatives, would people still be saying it wrong to put rights to a vote? I think it is wrong whether we win or lose but I fear others do not.

  8. says

    I truly never believed it would come to this in the USA; civil rights to equality being the subject of popular acquiescence.

    But I appreciate the point being made by DAFTPUNKDAVID.

    But what an unfortunate precedent.

  9. GeorgeM says

    Let’s all think positive god dam

    The only way to get marriage in ME is by voting, the governor will not sign for it. He said when hired all social bills should be decided by voters not him. We have to take our chance.

    This is different then a state like PA who has never granted the right but wants to outlaw it. We had it there, we want it back.

  10. esurience says

    KP must have missed it when the Maine legislature did pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, and a referendum by voters overturned it. It’s going to have to go to the voters one way or another.

    Civil rights exist whether they are recognized or not. Voting to withhold recognition of people’s rights is always wrong, whether it’s the people that do it, or a legislature. Voting to recognize people’s rights is always right, whether it’s the people that do it, or the legislature.

    There’s no hypocrisy. An objection to people voting to make society less fair is not an objection to people voting to make society more fair.

    “You shouldn’t put civil rights up to a vote” is a slogan, not an argument. And the slogan is phrased that way because when our rights our put up to a vote, it’s generally the opposition doing it in an act of hostility. But when our rights go unrecognized, one way or another we have to get them recognized, and given the number of state constitutional amendments that have passed that prohibit gay and lesbian people from getting married, that’s going to require a lot of voting. A lot of voting.

    So please stop it with this whiny crap about how we “shouldn’t have to vote on this!!”. We shouldn’t have to, but we do. Shut up already.

    Maybe all this whining is why only 67% of people in Maine who support marriage equality are actually planning to vote to instate it.

    I mean, if you follow the reasoning of KP and his ilk, maybe the right thing to do is to vote against marriage equality, since we shouldn’t be voting for it anyway!

    Stupid, just stupid. Stop it. Please.

  11. KP says

    Wow Esurience, did I run over your cat this morning? I posted a second comment where I said I wasn’t clear in my first post and I understand the reasons for the vote in Maine. My concern was people going back on the “no voting for civil rights” issue simply because the ballot measures were going in our favor. I am wary of putting any civil rights up to a vote and think that should be the domain of the legislature or courts. I guess I am not one of those “at any cost” kind of people. You don’t agree – that’s fine. But please do not call me stupid. Personal attacks are uncalled for.

  12. says

    At times like this, when Same Sex Marriage is showing popular support in polling, but then fails at the ballot box, it makes me realise just how lucky I am that Australia has compulsory voting. It means that the extremist get out the votes routines have no place here… (we just have to convince our politicians to actually have some backbone!)

  13. Darrell says

    Okay, well, PPP has had the most accurate polling on the issue (especially since it’s automated) and had nearly pinpoint accuracy last time at 51-47 with the correct amount indicated on our side. If we fight hard and understand that not only was 2009 an off-year election (historically flooded with more conservatives), but three years before we’re seeing this large shift in our favor. I have faith, but that doesn’t mean it won’t take hard work.

  14. Ken says

    It is wrong to ELIMINATE civil rights by popular vote. But I see nothing wrong with attempting to expand civil rights by popular vote. Why does the gay community not understand this difference? We must always use any means available to achieve equality.

  15. says

    It’s great that the measure will probably pass, but putting rights up to vote should never happen in a constitutional republic.

    It makes no difference, in principle, if this “collective will” is divined by the edicts of a dictator or by majority vote – so long as the rights of the individual may still be sacrificed. – Robert Garmong

  16. Grover Underwood says

    I don’t think “Gay, Inc.” wants to have these votes but will accept them if we have to and will fight accordingly