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Gay rights groups unveil marriage bill

Posted Jan. 13, 2009, at 10:49 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A state senator from Hancock County is sponsoring a bill to allow gay couples to marry in Maine.

Sen. Dennis S. Damon, D-Trenton, announced at a press conference this afternoon that he is submitting legislation that would redefine marriage.

He was supported by members of the Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition made up of the Equality Maine, the Maine Civil Liberties Union, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and the Maine Women’s Lobby.

Damon also was flanked by same-sex couples that want to marry and obtain the same legal protections afforded men and women who tie the knot in Maine.

Additional Maine couples who want to get married are profiled in a video.

The senator said that his bill would:

- codify civil marriage as the legally recognized union of two people.

- eliminate discrimination to allow any two eligible people, regardless of sex, to be issued an application for a marriage license.

- affirm religious freedom so that religious institutions continue to have control over their own religious doctrine and teachings regarding who may marry within each faith as set forth in the Maine and U.S. Constitutions.

- recognize lawful marriages from other states, removing a barrier akin to those enacted to prohibit mixed-race marriages a generation ago.

The Maine Marriage Alliance, a group that supports traditional marriage said it will submit a bill that would call for an amendment to the Maine Constitution that would define marriage as between a man and woman and ban same-sex marriage.

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