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Supporters of Maine Marriage Equality Seek Change in Ballot Measure Language: VIDEO


Mainers United for Marriage, the group seeking to pass marriage equality in Maine via a ballot measure this November, held a press conference today to express their unhappiness with the ballot language Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers released a week ago, which reads:

ME"Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?"

While that language appears simple and clear, marriage equality supporters are concerned that it does not properly reflect the religious protections that would be assured by passage of the law.

MPBN reports:

Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage says the law, if passed would actually do something else as well: "It would add a new section to Maine's marriage law to strengthen and protect religious freedom by ensuring that no church or clergy be required to perform or host any marriage that goes against their religious beliefs," McTighe said at a news conference today.

McTighe says that language was included in the petition that gathered 105,000 signatures to put the question on the ballot. Regardless of what the final question says in November, those religious protections will be included in the law. But McTighe says Mainers should be clear on what they're voting for.

There is another reason McTighe wants language about religious freedom in the ballot question. "Opponents of marriage are already trying to scare voters into thinking their church could be forced to perform or recognize same-sex marriages or that their tax exempt status would somehow be put at risk. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said.

Christian groups are also trying to change the language - to have it ask "if the people of Maine want to redefine marriage."

MPBN adds:

At the Secretary of State's office, spokesperson Megan Sanborn says they've received many responses to the ballot question in the week since they initially released the draft wording. "Those comments range from wanting to add something to the question, and some people really like the simplicity of the question and appreciate that, so we've kind of gotten a wide rage of responses," she says.

Sanborn says once the public comment period is over in a few weeks, the secretary of state will decide whether to revise it.

Watch Pastor Michael Gray from the United Methodist Church in Old Orchard Beach, who was the lead signer of the pro-marriage equality petition speak at the presser, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. That wording plays right into the evil hands of the catholic bishops and mormon organizers.
    And of course, so does "do you want to re-define marriage"

    Posted by: Bob | Jun 20, 2012 7:49:06 PM

  2. God I wish we didn't live in a country where we have to kow-tow to religious nutjobs with every move.

    There is no need to mention religious liberty, as it's ALREADY covered by the first amendment. But we have to go out of our way and call every effing bill a "Bill to protect religious freedom and grant marriage to same sex couples" -- as if the latter is an afterthought.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Jun 20, 2012 8:38:53 PM

  3. The wording of the initiative ballot may end up in the Court if the conservative Secretary of State doesn't add a reference to the preservation of religious liberty. According to the Maine statutes, and per the Maine Supreme Court, a challenge can be brought to the wording of the ballot question -- but the burden is high: "In order to compel Secretary of State to reformulate ballot question for citizen initiative, it must be demonstrated that question will mislead reasonable voters, who understand proposed legislation, into voting contrary to their wishes; merely demonstrating that question creates misleading impression about legislation is not enough."

    The proponents of same sex marriage need to immediately get their expert affidavits that the Secretary of State's wording does not just create a "misleading impression", but it will mislead reasonable voters to vote contrary to their wishes. Specifically, we need to show that people who support same sex marriage, but who also support religious liberty, will be misled into believing that the passage of same sex marriages does not have a 'carve out' which allows religious institutions to refuse to conduct or recognize such marriages.

    For those who think that it's "obvious" that the passage of same sex marriage will not require religious institutions to conduct same sex marriage ceremonies or recognize such marriages, that's not the case -- many people believe (and are led to believe by opponents of same sex marriage) that religious institutions will have to bend. Probably 5% of the vote can shift one way or another, depending on whether this reference to religious liberty is put in the description. But the proponents of same sex marriage will have to present EVIDENCE that this is likely to happen, not just legal argument. Maybe they need Olsen and Boies to handle the case because the result is definitely going to turn on the wording.

    And for those of you who keep posting that "it's wrong to public civil rights to a vote", GET OVER IT. Of course it's wrong, but the REALITY is that these votes have happened and are going to continue to happen (unless one of the conservative Supreme Court Justices dies and is replaced by a moderate or liberal). So let's win these votes, instead of constantly complaining that they are occurring.

    Posted by: MiddleoftheRoader | Jun 20, 2012 8:59:59 PM

  4. This will easily be overturned in court. The same thing happened in Washington and our side had it changed. Plus, we can actually use the argument that it isn't what the signers of the petitions actually signed for.

    Posted by: Stefan | Jun 21, 2012 12:56:52 AM

  5. I will not f*cking GET OVER IT! Shove your swaggering arrogance up where the sun don't shine! Nobody wins when Constitutional protections are put to public referendum; everybody loses! These ballot measures endanger the rights of all Americans; a tunnel vision focus on marriage equality in Maine is reckless, short-sighted and selfish. Adding insult to injury, if the measure passes (which I doubt, no matter what pollsters say), the marriages of LGB Mainers STILL won't be equal to heterosexual unions on the Federal level! And as long as the issue is decided at the polls instead of in court, those marriages will never be secure.

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Jun 21, 2012 1:20:04 PM

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