One year later Maine’s leading the way: as first state to allow same sex marriages

BY RAMONA DU HOUX

December 29th, 2013

Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci a year ago at city hall officiates Maine's first same sex marriage unions.

Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci a year ago at city hall officiates Maine’s first same sex marriage unions.

“A year ago today we opened Bangor City Hall to perform some of the first gay marriage ceremonies in the State of Maine. Today over 1,500 such services have taken place in our state. That means 3,000 people and their families were able to exercise their American right to their own pursuit of happiness,” said City Councilor Joe Baldacci.

James Beckett and Ken Tidd, Margaret Bagg and Hope Rogers and two women were married at Bangor City Hall a year ago today.

In this past year, 9,524 couples have been married since same-sex marriage was legalized in Maine. About 16 percent, 1,530, were same sex couples according to the Office of Data, Research and Vital Statistics.

Maine, became the first state to approve gay marriage by popular vote on Nov. 6, 2012. Maryland also approved the measure that year. Since then 18 states have approved same-sex marriage on a regular basis through court rulings, legislative action, and popular votes.

Many believe same sex marriage equality is this generation’s civil rights issue as gays and lesbians are not legally treated the same way when it comes to rights straight couples have had for years.

“Everyone needs to be treated equally under the law and discrimination of any kind always needs be addressed,” said Baldacci. A year ago, my daughters came with me to City Hall to witness the proceedings and we enjoyed the company of many good people.”

Over 50 people turned up to witness history in the making.

Ian Grady of EqualityMaine led the referendum drive in Maine. Grady stated that none of the potential problems cited by gay marriage opponents like teaching same-sex marriage in schools, or churches being forced to perform ceremonies have happened.

Governor John Baldacci and lawmakers approved the measure into law only to see it repealed a year later by voters. Then EqualityMaine took the issue to voters, explaining the legal inequalities and gays and lesbians endure. This time voters resoundingly stood by same-sex marriage.

President Barack Obama even mentioned the need for same sex equality in his Inaugural Address last January.