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Religious Tolerance logo

Same sex marriage (SSM) and domestic partnerships


SSMs & domestic partnerships in Maine

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The acronym "SSM" refers to same-sex marriages.

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  • Prior to 2009-MAY: Loving, committed same-sex couples in Maine had been only able to obtain some of the rights and privileges of marriage by registering their relationship in the state's domestic partner registry.

  • 2009-MAY-06: John Baldacci (D), the governor of Maine, signed into law a bill approving same-sex marriage (SSM) throughout the state. This was the first state to provide SSM purely by legislative action without having been ordered to do so by an earlier court ruling.

Maine became the fourth New England state to legalize SSM after Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont. Including the District of Columbia, Iowa, and New York State, it was the seventh U.S. jurisdiction to legalize SSM. Such marriages were also legal in California through much of 2008, until new same-sex marriages became unavailable in 2008-NOV due to Proposition 8, a citizen initiative.

  • 2009-SEP-12: Same-sex couples had been scheduled to be able to obtain marriage licenses in Maine. However, opponents of marriage equality were able to collect more than 55,000 signatures on a petition to stop the process, pending a statewide referendum by voters.

  • 2009-NOV-03: On election day, a referendum on SSM was held on election day to decide the fate of marriage equality in Maine. The final results were 53% to 47% against marriage equality -- a margin of 6 percentage points. The voter turnout was 60% -- high for an off-year election. Strong support for SSM was expressed in Maine's costal cities; strong opposition was apparent in the northern rural areas.

Marriage inequality continued in Maine until the end of 2012.

  • 2012-FEB-24: Supporters for marriage equality were informed that they had sufficient signatures on their petition to place a new referendum on the 2012-NOV-06 election day ballot. It was called "Question 1." If passed by the voters, it would repeal the previous referendum and reinstate SSM in the state.
  • 2012-NOV-07: At 8 AM on the morning after election day, with 51% of the votes counted, Question 1 was succeeding 51.1% to 48.9%. The Huffington Post later reported that with 98% of the precincts reporting, 52.65% were in favor of SSM and 47.3% opposed for a margin of 5.35 percentage points. 8 Although it seems a bit premature, Mainers United for Marriage had already declared victory by 06:30 ET on NOV-07. They tweeted: "Maine voters approve the freedom to marry! For the first time, marriage wins at the ballot." 10

  • 2012-NOV-14: The Bangor Daily News reported that with 99% of the precincts reporting, 52.59% were in favor of SSM and 47.41% opposed for a margin of 5.18 percentage points.The 2009 referendum was overturned; the2009 marriage law that had been repealed later in 2009 will be reinstated. Marriage will be an option for all loving committed couples, whether of the same gender or opposite gender. 11

  • 2012-NOV-29: Governor Paul LePage signed off on the election results.

  • 2012-DEC-03: Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) announced that new marriage law in Maine becomes effective on Saturday, DEC-29. Since most state offices are normally closed on Saturdays, the earliest that many same-sex couples can conveniently obtain marriage licenses may be Monday, DEC-31. However, some offices are expected to be open on DEC-29 to accomodate the rush of same-sex couples. The US Marriage Laws web site has a description of marriage laws in Maine and a list of the County Clerks' offices. 13 If you plan to get married, we recommend that you double-check the information on that web site with other independent information sources.

Is marriage equality secure in Maine?

In a word, no. Most religious and social conservatives remain strongly opposed to SSM.

There is some uncertainty whether this referendum will settle the matter. The 2009 referendum cancelled SSM by a margin of 6 percentage points, and the 2012 referendum restored it with a margin of 5 percentage points. This represents a swing in public opinion of 11 percentage points over three years. This is a fairly typical change. Polls show that national support for SSM is inreasing from 1 to 2 percentage points per year while opposition is decreasing by about the same rate. Those opposed to marriage equality may try again at some future date to once more terminate SSMs. In fact, there might well well be a series of referendums in Maine's future to alternately ban and permit SSM. The question may not be settled until one side achieves really substantial majority support, or runs out of money, or lacks enthusiasm and gives up.

Summary of recent polls on SSM in Maine:

Rather than scatter the results of 2011/2012 polls on Question 1 throughout this section, we have consolidated them here for easier referencing.

Polls taken in 2012 showed strong support for reinstating same-sex marriage (SSM) in Maine. Those in favor of SSM heavily outnumbered those opposed by a margin of 15 percentage points or more -- until the actual date of the election approached. By the fall of 2012, the vote was probably too close to call. A majority of those polled still supported SSM, but those opposed were growing in numbers:

Poll mid date
Polling Agency Support SSM Oppose SSM Undecided/
no answer
Margin in favor of SSM Number polled margin of error in percentage points
Public Policy Polling 2
9 perc. points
±3.8  p.p
Public Policy Polling
15 p.p.
±2.8  p.p.
Maine People's Resource Center
18 p.p.
±3.1 p.p.
MassINC Polling Group 3
19 p.p.
±4.4 p.p.
Insights 4,5
21 p.p.
±3.9 p.p.
Maine People's Resource Ctr. 9
9.9 p.p.
±3.4 p.p.

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Topics covered in this section:

References used:

  1. The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
  2. "Maine Vote 2009," Bangor Daily News, 2009-NOV-03, at:
  3. "Maine Question 1 narrowly leads; voters want gay marriage," Public Policy Polling, 2011-NOV-02, at:
  4. "WBUR Maine 2012 Poll," MassINC Polling Group, 2012-JUN-14, at:
  5. Poll results only were quoted in a blog on the New York Times on 2012-OCT-08 at:
  6. John Richardson, "Poll: Mainers backing King less, Obama more," Morning Sentinel, 2012-OCT-09, at:
  7. "Marriage equality victory delared in Maine," Towleroad, 2012-NOV-07, at:
  8. "Maine Passes Gay Marriage In Historic 'Question 1' Vote," Huffington Post, 2012-NOV-07, at:
  9. Mainers United: Thank you Maine!," Twitter, 2012-NOV-07, at:
  10. "Maine People's Resource Center Public Opinion Survey," 2012-SEP-15-17, at:
  11. "2012 General Election Results for Maine," Bangor Daily News, 2012-NOV-14, at:
  12. "Maine Marriage Law Effective on Dec. 29, 2012," Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), 2012-DEC-03, at:
  13. "Obtaining a marriage license in Maine," US Marriage Laws, at:
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Home> Religious info.> Basic> Marriage> Same-sex marriage> Menu> here

Home> "Hot" topics> Homosexuality> Same-sex marriage> Menu> here

Copyright © 2009 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2009-JAN-14
Latest update: 2014-JAN-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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