AUGUSTA, Maine -- The Maine Senate gave two nods of approval to a bill to legalize gay marriage after extended and emotional debate Thursday.
The measure now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration next week, and then back to the Senate for a third, and perhaps final, vote.
In initial voting, the Senate voted 20-15 to give its preliminary approval. Next, an amendment to require a statewide referendum on the matter was rejected, 22-13. Then the Senate registered its support for the original measure again, this time by 21-14.
Gay-marriage supporters were elated. But one organizer, Maggie Ricker of Chelsea, echoed a number of lawmakers in saying she expects opponents of same-sex marriage to use a petition drive to force a people's veto referendum even if the bill wins enactment in the Legislature.
"We've been planning for it already," Ms. Ricker said. "And it's their right."
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Petitions are a wonderful thing provided that the will of the majority is rightful. Denying other equal citizens there rights by voting them away is unconstitutional. That aside I suspect the process will be riddled with signature fraud which I intend on coaching the leadership in Maine about what they can do and what to expect.
If they go into this process with their eyes open they may be able to prevent the petition from gaining enough signatures. Having a community watch program that patrols for petition signature gatherers is a good idea. This allows us to have someone watching the opposition to ensure no signatures get stolen like they were in Massachusetts in 2005. We need to start a education campaign as well so that citizens are more informed as to the deceptions being used against them.
All said from what I saw Mainers are pretty savvy. I'm not sure they will be as easily fooled as people in the past. I'm sure that if the law allows Tom Lang and KnowThyNeighbor.org will give Mainers something to talk about if they go forward with such a petition.
For those who have been following this (Annie) the House vote is expected Tuesday.