Marriage form updated for gender neutrality

Several hundred supporters of same-sex marriage gathered on the steps of Portland City Hall on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009, one day after Maine voters repealed the state's same-sex marriage law. Leaders of the No on 1 campaign said they were disappointed by the results but vowed to continue fighting in Maine for marriage equality for same-sex couples.(Bangor Daily News photo by Kevin Miller)
Several hundred supporters of same-sex marriage gathered on the steps of Portland City Hall on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009, one day after Maine voters repealed the state's same-sex marriage law. Leaders of the No on 1 campaign said they were disappointed by the results but vowed to continue fighting in Maine for marriage equality for same-sex couples.(Bangor Daily News photo by Kevin Miller)
Posted Nov. 04, 2009, at 10:38 p.m.
Patricia Peard and Jesse Connolly of the No on 1 campaign stand at the podium during a press conference on the steps of Portland City Hall on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009, one day after Maine voters repealed the state's same-sex marriage law. Leaders of the No on 1 campaign said they were disappointed by the results but vowed to continue fighting in Maine for marriage equality for same-sex couples.(Bangor Daily News photo by Kevin Miller)
Patricia Peard and Jesse Connolly of the No on 1 campaign stand at the podium during a press conference on the steps of Portland City Hall on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009, one day after Maine voters repealed the state's same-sex marriage law. Leaders of the No on 1 campaign said they were disappointed by the results but vowed to continue fighting in Maine for marriage equality for same-sex couples.(Bangor Daily News photo by Kevin Miller)

AUGUSTA, Maine — State officials on Wednesday lamented the unfortunate timing of an updated marriage license form sent recently to Maine municipalities that seemed to be preparing for the same-sex marriage law to be upheld.

Many municipal officials, including Don Strout in the Penobscot County town of Corinth, received a letter on Monday, the eve of Election Day, from the state Department of Health and Human Services. The letter was accompanied by a copy of Maine’s license and certificate of marriage and highlighted two proposed changes. In-stead of the headings for “bride” and “groom,” the updated form reads “applicant 1” and “applicant 2.”

“It seemed sort of fishy to me,” Strout said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Maine voters, by a 53-47 percent vote, overturned a law passed by the Legislature earlier this year that would have allowed same-sex couples to get married.

John Martins, spokesman for DHHS, said that the department’s vital records division has been in the process of updating all its forms to reflect gender neutrality, but he admitted that more consideration could have been given to the timing.

“This was going to be done regardless of the outcome of Question 1, but I can see how some might question it,” Martins said. “It was certainly unintended.”

Several other state forms, including adoption applications, have been changed. On that form, instead of “mother” and “father,” it now reads “parent” and “co-parent,” Martins said.

erussell@bangordailynews.net

990-8167

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