12:45 PM ET: Just moments ago, one of my contributors who is on the ground in Maine, Louise emailed me to say that in minutes a decision was going to be made by Gov. Baldacci as to whether he would sign the marriage equality bill when it hits his desk. She was told to head right away to the governor's office to get the scoop. We just got the word and it was good news:
Governor Signs LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom
May 6, 2009
AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today signed into law LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom.
“I have followed closely the debate on this issue. I have listened to both sides, as they have presented their arguments during the public hearing and on the floor of the Maine Senate and the House of Representatives. I have read many of the notes and letters sent to my office, and I have weighed my decision carefully,” Governor Baldacci said. “I did not come to this decision lightly or in haste.”
“I appreciate the tone brought to this debate by both sides of the issue,” Governor Baldacci said. “This is an emotional issue that touches deeply many of our most important ideals and traditions. There are good, earnest and honest people on both sides of the question.”
“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions,” Governor Baldacci said. “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.”
“Article I in the Maine Constitution states that ‘no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of that person’s civil rights or be discriminated against.’”
“This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs. It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of Church and State,” Governor Baldacci said.
“It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine’s civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government.”
“Even as I sign this important legislation into law, I recognize that this may not be the final word,” Governor Baldacci said. “Just as the Maine Constitution demands that all people are treated equally under the law, it also guarantees that the ultimate political power in the State belongs to the people.”
“While the good and just people of Maine may determine this issue, my responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and do, as best as possible, what is right. I believe that signing this legislation is the right thing to do,” Governor Baldacci said.
When Gov. Baldacci spoke with Louise on the phone the other day (he called her at home!), he sounded like he was leaning towards signing, but didn't say it outright. I give him credit for listening -- and thumbs up for Louise taking the bull by the horns with that golden opportunity to lobby for equality. The fundie outrage begins in 5...4...3...2...1