Same-sex marriage bill gets step closer to voters

Posted March 13, 2012, at 11:35 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A proposal to allow same-sex couples to marry in Maine is a step closer to a referendum.

Without debate, the House on Tuesday voted to kill the citizen-initiated bill, a clear sign that representatives want the state’s voters to decide whether to authorize gay marriages. The matter now goes to the Senate.

In 2009, Maine voters repealed a legislatively passed gay marriage law 53 percent to 47 percent.

The latest effort to force a referendum comes after gay rights activists say many Mainers have changed their minds about the issue and are now willing to accept same-sex marriages.

Because the bill arises from the citizen initiative process, lawmakers have an option to pass it exactly as proposed or kill it, which sends it to voters.