At Last- Maine Marriage Law Goes Into Effect (Photos, Tweets, Observations and More)

Posted on December 28, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Husbands Michael Snell and Steven Bridges

Husbands Michael Snell and Steven Bridges

Alex Steed of Knack Factory announced earlier today that he would be live blogging from Portland City Hall tonight for Bangor Daily News. Some of his report:

    [10:29p] And the live-blogging begins. There are about a dozen people in support of equal marriage out front, and two scripture-spouting zealots against it outside of Portland City Hall.

    [10:40p] Chris and Byron are amp3ed for their big day… To get their dog license… They kid, they kid. They’re excited, and hilarious.

    [10:53p] I just talked with Amanda Hollander who is up in the air as to whether or not she will be married tonight. On one hand, for her, it’s about being a part of the crowd, and joining her parents who have been married for 40+ years and have been a part of this on-going civil rights struggle. Either way, she is here to support what is happening, and be a part of it… potentially.

    [11:02p] I just talked with Chris O’Connor, who has been fighting for marriage equality since 2008. He said that he was just at dinner and a waitress asked if City Hall would be staying open in this way for straight people. She just got married herself. He asked, “How many doors have you knocked on in order to have this right?” He is happy to be here tonight. He is excited to be here tonight. It means “everything” to him.

    [11:13p] I just talked to Byron Bartlett (pictured below) who says that he is lucky to be here. There are so many loving couples who came before him who aren’t here. He is lucky to be a part of this, and he says that is important for him to acknowledge.

    [11:32p] I just talked with Erin McNally, a straight ally and a notary who is here to marry people for free. This is important for her because it is about time, she says, that equality is recognized in this state.

    [11:35p] I just talked with Jill Barkley, who told me that she kept fighting campaign after campaign for this moment. This is important for the state because equality is important. Now people won’t move from here just to be recognized.

    [11:42p] LuzMarina Serrano just explained that she is here for her friends, and she is here, despite having to bundle up so much, because of love. Love is important to support, she says.

10:30- EqualityMaine ‏@EqualityMaine
It looks like the first same-sex couple to marry in Maine will be Steve Bridges and Michael Snell. Congratulations! #yeson1

Michael Snell and Steven Bridges of Portland wait in line at Portland City Hall to be the first gay couple in Maine to be married on Friday, Dec. 28, 2012.
(Photo: Carl D. Walsh / PPH Staff Photographer)

    Couples started arriving at City Hall Plaza shortly after 9:30 p.m. First in line were Michael Snell, 53, and Steven Bridges, 42, of Portland, who said they have been together for nine years and had an informal marriage ceremony in Portland six years ago. They plan to have the state’s first-ever official gay wedding shortly after midnight.

    They said they were shocked to be first because they expected more people to be at City Hall when they arrived around 9:30 p.m.

    “We’ve been smiling the whole day,”
    Bridges said.

    Snell arrived with his two daughters, who live in Boston.

    “I’m so excited and happy for Dad and Steven,” said Carolyn Snell, 25. “This has been a long time coming.”

    Her sister, Katie Snell, 27, noting that same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for nearly a decade, said, “It’s nice to see Maine catch up.”

The line is slowly growing at Portland City Hall. About 12 gay couples now waiting to get their licenses. #ME4M

Amy Fried ‏@ASFried
Don’t forget what it took for Maine to get marriage equality: … #me4m #mepolitics #yeson1

Tonight’s couples can use the State of Maine room if they’re interested in having a more elaborate ceremony. #ME4M

Here is a list of the Maine cities opening early to accommodate those wishing to get a marriage license early are:

  • Bangor: 6 to 8 a.m, City Hall
  • Brewer: 6 to 8 a.m, City Hall
  • Augusta: 9 a.m. to noon, City Center
  • Brunswick: 9 a.m. to noon, City Hall (by appointment)
  • Falmouth: Midnight, City Hall
  • Gardiner: 9 a.m. to noon, City Hall
  • Hallowell:
  • Portland: Midnight, City Hall
  • South Portland: 8 a.m. to noon, City Clerk’s office
  • Via Waldo County Democrats’ Neal Harkness: “Belfast,Northport, Palermo, Knox, Morrill, Swanville will all be open tomorrow. Monroe and Freedom clerks have said they’d open if anyone called.”

    NOW- Maine is truly “The Way Life Should Be”. Onward to Dirigo, America. It’s TIME.

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    BREAKING: President Obama Supports Question 1 in Maine

    Posted on October 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

    Via Mainers United press release:

      President Obama Supports Question 1 in Maine

      PORTLAND – President Obama today announced his support for Question 1, which would allow same-sex couples to receive a marriage license while also protecting religious freedom.

      In a statement, Michael Czin, northeast regional press secretary for the president, said: “While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect. The president believes same-sex couples should be treated equally and supports Question 1.

      President Obama first announced his support for allowing same-sex couples to marry during an interview with ABC News in May.

      “I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told ABC’s Good Morning America.

      “President Obama made history earlier this year when he became the first sitting president to endorse same-sex marriage. Today, he spoke out in support of the thousands of loving, committed same-sex couples in Maine who want to accept the responsibility and joy that go along with marriage,” said Matt McTighe, the campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage. “We are grateful for his support.”

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    Yes On 1 Ad: The Gardner Family of Machias

    Posted on October 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

    Dotty & Harlan Gardner of Machias talk about why marriage matters to them and what it would mean for their granddaughter and her partner, Alexandria. Harlan says, “What has been so good for Dorothy and I is too good not to share with the people we love.”

    Via Mainers United press release:

      PORTLAND – Harlan Gardner and his wife, Dorothy, return in a new 30-second television advertisement urging voters to vote “Yes” on Question 1, which would allow same-sex couples to receive a marriage license while also protecting religious freedom.

      Harlan and his family were first featured in a TV ad from GLAD that began airing during the Olympics this summer. The one-minute ad earned Gardner the title of “Maine’s Marriage Hero” from New York Times columnist Frank Bruni.

      The original ad has been viewed almost 100,000 times on YouTube.

      “While our opponents continue to try to scare and mislead voters with their ads, we believe the best thing we can do is let real Mainers tell their stories about why marriage matters to them,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage. “As Harlan says in the first ad, this isn’t about politics, it’s about family, and how we, as people, treat one another.”

      The new ad can be viewed at http://www.mainersunited/ It will begin running statewide today.

      Harlan and Dorothy have been married for 59 years and live in Machias. They hope that one day, their granddaughter Katie will be able to legally marry her partner, Alexandria.

      “There are four generations of our family sitting around this table,” Harlan says as the ad opens.

      “Our granddaughter, Katie, is gay,” Dorothy says. “I would in my lifetime really like to be able to see Katie and Alex get married legally. We want for her what we have. A marriage, not a domestic partnership.”

      “What has been so good for Dorothy and I is too good not to share with the people we love,” Harlan says, to close the ad.

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    Mainers United Issue Information to Correct Opponents’ Deliberate Lies About Existing State Laws

    Posted on September 27, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

    (The briefing memo is below, shared in its entirety. The title is mine alone. ~AP)

    Opponents of Freedom to Marry Sow Confusion on Domestic Partnerships

    Opponents of allowing same-sex couples to receive a marriage license have begun an effort to create confusion about current Maine law, domestic partnerships and civil unions.

    In op-eds placed in daily newspapers around the state, opponents of marriage have incorrectly claimed that “same-sex couples have been able to join together in legal matrimony in Maine for eight years with the same rights and benefits of everyone else.”

    This information is false.

    Additionally, there has been an effort to confuse domestic partnerships with civil unions. Maine does not allow civil unions, nor does the state allow same-sex couples to obtain a marriage license.

    Instead, Maine has a limited “Domestic Partnership Registry” that grants certain eligible couples a small handful of legal rights in terms of probate, guardianships, conservatorships, inheritance and protection from abuse.

    “Parents don’t dream of the day that their children will enter into a binding legal contract or have their domestic partnership papers filed. They dream of the day their children will marry the person they love and begin a life together, with all of the responsibilities and joys that come with marriage. Loving, committed couples don’t hope for the day they will be protected in probate court,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage. “In form and function, domestic partnerships do not have the same meaning or protections that come with civil marriage.”

    Apart from legal rights, marriage carries profound personal meaning, for the couples and for others who instantly grasp its significance. Because it is understood by all, the word “marriage” is itself is a protection.

    From the Department of Health and Human Services domestic partnership registry website: “Effective July 30, 2004, Public Law 672 regarding Domestic Partner Registration will allow individuals who have been legally domiciled together in this state, for at least 12 months, to submit a notarized registration form (Declaration of Domestic Partnership) to the Maine CDC vital records office to have their partnership legally registered. The Domestic Partner Registration allows individuals to have rights of inheritance (as specified in Title 18-A M.R.S.A.) as well as the right to make decisions regarding the disposal of their deceased partners remains (Title 22 M.R.S.A. §2843-A).”

    “Does that sound at all like a marriage,” McTighe said. “Marriage matters to thousands of Maine families. Marriage is the strongest and most stabilizing bond the state can confer on any couple, and it’s something that should be encouraged, not discouraged. Domestic partnerships are no substitute for allowing all loving, committed couples to marry.”

    Opponents of marriage around the country have outlined a strategy that Mainers will recognize from 2009, the only other time the issue of allowing same-sex couples to marry has been voted on in Maine.

    Opponents falsely claim – as the referenced op-ed above makes clear – that same-sex couples already enjoy the legal rights of marriage.

    And Mainers United expects, in the closing days of the campaign, to see a television ad similar to the one aired in 2009, which says: “We want to be tolerant of gays. Maine’s domestic partnership laws provide substantial protections for gay couples. Any problems remaining can be addressed without dismantling traditional marriage. It’s possible to support civil rights of all citizens and protect traditional marriage at the same time.”

    The goal of the advertisement is to create a false equivalence between two things that are not alike.

    Alternatives to marriage also fail as a matter of principle. Other states that have passed domestic partnerships or civil unions have found that they just don’t work and can be harmful.

    Massachusetts: The Massachusetts high court rejected an attempt by some to substitute civil unions after its landmark marriage ruling in 2003. The Court said in an Opinion to the Justices of the Senate that the differences “between the terms ‘civil marriage’ and ‘civil union’” [were] “not innocuous; [but]… a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex … couples to second-class status. … The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal.”

    New Jersey: After New Jersey enacted civil unions, in 2008, an independent Civil Union Review Commission issued a unanimous report to the Governor and Legislature with urgent findings, calling the negative effects of civil unions “striking”: “In a number of cases, the negative effect of the Civil Union Act on the physical and mental health of same-sex couples and their children is striking.”

    The Commission found that “children would benefit by society’s recognition that their parents are married” and called for the state to amend the civil union law “without delay” to allow same-sex couples to marry.

    The Commission also wrote in its final report: “Even if, given enough time, civil unions are understood to provide rights and responsibilities equivalent to those provided in marriage, they send a message to the public: same-sex couples are not equal to opposite-sex married couples in the eyes of the law, that they are ‘not good enough’ to warrant true equality. This is the same message that racial segregation laws wrongfully sent. Separate treatment was wrong then and it is just as wrong now.

    Vermont: A commission in Vermont drew similar conclusions in 2008, nearly a decade after it passed its civil union law. Vermonters with civil unions testified saying that there are “deficits in the civil union law, with clear and negative financial, economic, and social impacts on their lives and the lives of their children and families.”

    Connecticut: Also in 2008, the Supreme Court of Connecticut struck down a statute that prohibited same-sex marriage, finding that civil unions and marriage “are by no means ‘equal.’”

    The court explained in its opinion: “Despite the truly laudable effort of the legislature in equalizing the legal rights afforded same sex and opposite sex couples, there is no doubt that civil unions enjoy a lesser status in our society than marriage.”

    Mainers United for Marriage is the coalition to win marriage for all Maine families. A “Yes” vote on Question 1 in November will allow marriage licenses for loving, committed same-sex couples in Maine while also protecting religious freedom.

    For more information about the campaign, visit

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    Yes on 1: Mainers United for Marriage – Brotherhood (VIDEO)

    Posted on September 24, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

    Great new ad by Mainers United for Marriage starting to air today. Give it a look and share:

    “Firefighters Andrew, Dave, Eric and Ryan talk about trust, respect and why they’re voting “Yes” on Question 1. They know marriage matters to ALL Maine families.”

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    Coalition Partners Release New Ad Highlighting Why Marriage Matters

    Posted on August 21, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

    A new educational television ad about why marriage matters to all Maine families will be broadcast statewide beginning today. The 30 second ad features Pat and Dan Lawson of Monroe, married thirty years, talking about why allowing same-sex couples to marry is important to their family.

    The ad, expected to air into September, was developed through the Why Marriage Matters Maine Project, a broad network of organizations supporting the freedom to marry in Maine. It is being paid for by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.

    “We have a set of twin sons. One’s gay and one’s straight,” Pat says in the ad.

    “Marriage is a commitment that comes from your heart. If that person wasn’t there, you’re not going to be complete,” Dan says. “If my son finds someone that he’s in love with and wants to create a bond that’s going to last a lifetime, that’s marriage in my mind.”

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    Posted on June 22, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

    Because in my mind, there was never a Question.

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    Southern Maine Pride Pictures, June 16

    Posted on June 16, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

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    1st Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Lower Court Ruling That DOMA Unconstitutional

    Posted on May 31, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

    In a 3-0 decision, the First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management which found the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional:

    An appeals court ruled Thursday that the heart of a law that denies a host of federal benefits to gay married couples is unconstitutional.

    The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, discriminates against married same-sex couples by denying them federal benefits.

    The appeals court agreed with a lower court judge who ruled in 2010 that the law is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define marriage and denies married gay couples federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including the ability to file joint tax returns.

    The court didn’t rule on the law’s other provision, which said states without same-sex marriage cannot be forced to recognize gay unions performed in other states.

    2012 May 31 Gill v Opm First Circuit Ruling

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