Maine’s Marriage Bill Sponsor Gets Standing Ovation
April 22, 2009 by Bryan
A legislative hearing to extend gay marriage to another New England state — Maine — created traffic jams Wednesday as thousands of residents converged on a civic arena to air their views.
Gay marriage supporters hoping to build on momentum in the region arrived wearing red, and they gave a standing ovation to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dennis Damon, as he opened the hearing.
“This bill is fair. This bill’s time has come,” Damon, D-Trenton, said to a roar of approval. “It recognizes the worth of every man and woman among us.”
Damon’s proposal — backed by 60 legislative co-sponsors — would repeal a state law that limits marriage to a man and a woman and replace it with one that authorizes marriage between any two people.
Also up for a discussion is a separate bill to allow civil unions — which offer many of the same rights as marriage — sponsored by Rep. Les Fossel, R-Alna.
Wednesday’s hearing started a half-hour late because of the size of the crowd, made up of people both for and against gay marriage. The Augusta Civic Center’s auditorium has seating for 4,000, and it was nearly full.
Gay rights activists want to get laws allowing same-sex marriage passed in all of New England by 2012, and they’re already halfway there. Vermont’s Legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto two weeks ago to enact a same-sex marriage law. Connecticut and Massachusetts also allow gay marriage.