Maine politician moves to end discrimination in civil marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A Democrat politician in Maine is putting forward a bill to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage in the state.

State Senator Dennis Damon’s Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedoms revokes the state’s Defence of Marriage Act, which defines a marriage as between a man and a woman only.

Since 2004 Maine has allowed gay and lesbian couples to register as domestic partners.

Domestic partnerships only grant some of the rights given to married couples.

Senator Damon told a news conference on Tuesday that the bill, which was written with help from the Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition, will “fully end discrimination in Maine.”

One of the aims is to put an end to any problems same-sex couples would encounter if they apply for a marriage licence in Maine.

The subject of same-sex marriage has been a topic for discussion recently in New England with the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders announcing their aim to have same-sex marriage legalised in all six states by 2012.

If Senator Damon’s bill is passed, it would make Maine the third state in New England to allow same-sex marriage, after Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Republican Josh Tardy, a member of the state House of Representatives, is to press for  a constitutional amendment which states that marriage is limited to heterosexual couples.

Maine Governor John Baldacci said in a statement after the press conference on Tuesday he would be watching the debate but was not yet willing to give his support to same-sex marriage.

Groups which oppose gay marriage have already said they will fight the bill.

Of the six states in New England only one, Rhode Island, does not offer same-sex couples any type of recognition under law.