Gay marriage supporters collect 5,000 signatures in Maine

Posted Aug. 20, 2011, at 9:24 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 21, 2011, at 5:51 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The renewed effort to get gay marriage approved in Maine kicked off Saturday as petition-gatherers fanned out across the state, targeting farmers markets, parades and festivals in communities form York to Bangor.

Equality Maine says the effort targeted a number of communities including Portland, Kennebunk, Biddeford, York, Bangor, Ellsworth and Brunswick.

The idea was to target heavily attended festivals. Thus, signature-gatherers were at a street festival in Biddeford, an art festival in Brunswick, and the Bob Dylan concert in Bangor.

“We are everywhere,” said Equality Maine spokesman Timothy Rose on Saturday. He said one volunteer at the Portland Farmers Market reported that some people were pushing others out of the way to sign the petition. “It’s going a lot better than we had thought it would be,” Rose said. By Saturday night, 5,000 signatures had been gathered, he said.

Rose channeled Bob Dylan in his comment that he believes Mainers are coming around to the idea of gay marriage after rejecting it in 2009: “The times they are a-changing. The great thing for us is that hearts and minds are changing on marriage equality.”

Maine is the only state in New England that doesn’t allow either gay marriage or civil unions.

To get gay marriage on the 2012 ballot, organizers need to collect at least 57,277 voters’ signatures by Jan. 30. The bill would first go to the Legislature, which would have an option to pass it.

Carroll Conley Jr. of the Christian Civic League of Maine said the organization is disappointed to see Maine put through another referendum on gay marriage, but said “we also see this as an opportunity to promote the merits of natural marriage to a society.”

“I know that a lot of times we’re accused of imposing our morality but in a Democracy, nobody imposes morality — you make the case for it. There are very few of our laws that don’t have some sort of moral implication. We’ll make the case,” he said.

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