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08/17/2011

Pens at ready, Mainers: Push to regain removed rights begins today

by Jeremy Hooper

Just in from Maine:

Secretary of State Approves Marriage Statute, Clearing Way for Signature Gathering

Today, same-sex marriage advocates in Maine announced that a citizen initiative campaign for a law allowing same-sex couples to marry cleared its first major hurdle with the Secretary of State’s approval of the language of the proposed statute.
This allows campaign volunteers and supporters to begin collecting the signatures required to put “An Act to Allow Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couples and Protect Religious Freedom” on the November 2012 ballot.

“I’m grateful to Secretary of State Summers for promptly approving the language of the proposed law to let same-sex couples marry in Maine,” said Pastor Michael Gray of Old Orchard Beach United Methodist Church, one of six original signers of the initiative petition. “As campaign volunteers fan out across the state to collect signatures from their fellow Mainers I expect they will encounter thousands of willing signers who have changed their hearts and minds on marriage after getting to know their gay and lesbian neighbors, co-workers and community members – just as I have done.”

The management of a ballot campaign required the creation of a political action committee, which in this case is called the Dirigo Family PAC. Its first job will be to oversee the grassroots signature gathering effort with the help of thousands of volunteers and dozens of Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition partners. Beginning this weekend, they will be knocking on doors, canvassing their neighborhoods and gathering signatures in the communities where they live. The PAC plans to gather at least 80, 000 signatures, which must be submitted to the Secretary of State’s office for certification in January of 2012. At the same time, EqualityMaine, GLAD and our Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition partners will continue the critical public education work to strengthen support for the freedom to marry in Maine. Learn more about their work at
WhyMarriageMattersMaine.com.

“We’re excited for the signature gathering phase of this campaign to start and we’re eager to start asking all of our friends and family in Maine to sign the petition,” said Rita Clifford, one of the original signers of the petition who lives in Scarborough with her partner of almost 30 years, Sara Jane Elliot. “So many of our friends and neighbors have heard first-hand how important the responsibilities and commitment of marriage are to us and we know we’ll get a lot of support from them and many other Mainers.”

If it qualifies for the 2012 ballot and is approved by voters, “An Act to Allow Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couples and Protect Religious Freedom” would permit gay and lesbian couples to obtain licenses to legally marry in Maine. It would not require churches to perform such marriages in violation of their religious teachings.

“Changes to marriage law are not going to affect how different religions define their religious rites,” said Pastor Gray. “The state is never going to go into a church and tell them who they can and can’t marry,” said Pastor Gray.
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Hopefully this time, the opposition won't wait until after the campaign to be this honest:

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