(UPDATED W/VIDEO) Maine’s First Mass Same Sex Marriage Ceremony Conducted At Southern Maine Pride Festival

Posted on June 18, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

UPDATE: Here is a rather shaky video of the ceremony.

Rob Hopkins and Michael George from Pennsylvania, before their wedding.

Rob Hopkins and Michael George, visiting from Pennsylvania, decided to get married in Maine. The couple has been together for 18 years.

As the country awaits SCOTUS’s decision regarding DOMA, ten happy couples decided to tie the knot before family, friends, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan and thousands of their closest supporters at this past weekend’s 27th Annual Southern Maine Pride Parade and Festival at Deering Oaks.

The theme of this year’s event, “Marry Me”, was in honor of the 2012 marriage equality law that went into effect last December and the first same sex couple married in Maine, Portland’s own Michael Snell and Steven Bridges, were honorary marshals of the parade proceeding the wedding ceremony. The grand marshal for this year’s parade was Bethel resident Richard Blanco, who was the inaugural poet at President Barack Obama’s ceremonial swearing-in last January.

Rob Hopkins of Pennsylvania, who had been in a relationship with his fiance for 18 years, said the couple decided to travel specifically to Maine to exchange vows: “We came to get married because Maine recognizes gay marriage. Maine is a beautiful state.”

More from the happy couples via Portland Press Herald:

    Chris Fleuriel and Chris Andre of Brunswick said the mass wedding was a perfect way to celebrate Maine’s gay marriage law. They said the public ceremony spared them a lot of complicated wedding preparations.

    “We know a lot of our friends will be here so this keeps it real simple. We just emailed our friends,” Fleuriel said.

    Ryan Pearson and Michael Nadeau of Portland

    Ryan Pearson and Michael Nadeau of Portland

    Ivy Gibbs and Courtney Vandermartin of Portland, who got engaged in November, said that when they heard about the mass wedding, they knew they had to take part.

    “It is nice to know everyone is supporting us,” said Vandermartin, who planned to take her new spouse’s last name.

Ryan Pearson, who had been engaged for four years to Michael Nadeau, said the two decided the day before to get married as part of the mass wedding: “It was very last minute.”

After the ceremony, Mayor Brennan read a proclamation, recognizing June 15, 2013 as Southern Maine Pride Day.


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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 pic.twitter.com/WJi1LehM

Amy Fried ‏@ASFried
Don’t forget what it took for Maine to get marriage equality: http://pollways.bangordailynews.com/2012/12/28/national/dont-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 pic.twitter.com/kTUYuZ3T

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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    The Moment Marriage Equality Wins in Maine

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

    (Originally posted 8 Nov 2012; worth resharing. ~AP)

    The historic moment when supports of marriage equality in Maine learn that Question 1 will pass and equal marriage will become a reality in the state.

    From 2009, my photos. So excited that Maine got it right.

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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/ads.org. 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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    New ‘Yes’ on 1 Ad: Civil Unions Are Not Enough

    Posted on October 10, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

    From the accompanying press release:

      Mainers United for Marriage has released a new statewide TV ad featuring Catharine and Phil Curtis of Biddeford.

      In the 30-second ad, Catharine and Phil talk about their youngest daughter, who is a lesbian, and why civil unions and alternative forms of relationship recognition are not enough.

      The ad started on cable on Tuesday and on broadcast networks today.

      “Opponents of the freedom to marry continue to wrongly argue that domestic partnerships or civil unions are a legitimate substitute for marriage. They are not,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage. “The word ‘marriage’ carries profound personal meaning for the couples and for others who instantly grasp its significance. Everyone knows what it means to be ‘married’ legally. In our new ad, Phil and Catharine explain what it means to their family.”

      Maine does not have civil unions. Maine has a domestic partnership registry, which can provide very limited protection for same-sex couples in matters of probate, for example.

      Catharine: “We’ve been married for almost 52 years.”

      Phil: “She’s the most important person in my life. We have three daughters. Our youngest, Catie, is gay.”

      Catharine: “People will ask: ‘Why wouldn’t a civil union be enough for her?’ When we were young, we never dreamed about having a civil union or signing a piece of paper. We wanted to be married.”

      Phil: “I want our Catie to have what we have: The joy and security of marriage.”

      Catharine: “A civil union is no substitute for marriage. We know that in our hearts.”

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    New ‘Yes’ on 1 Ad Featuring ME Rep. Stacey Fitts (R-Pittsfield) Shows People Can Change Their Minds on Marriage

    Posted on October 9, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

    Stacey Fitts of Pittsfield talks about why, as a Republican, he supports the freedom to marry. He voted against marriage for same-sex couples in 2009, but, since then, he’s talked with the people in his life and changed his mind.

    The accompanying press release:

      PORTLAND – Mainers United for Marriage today released a new statewide TV ad featuring Republican State Rep. Stacey Fitts, who voted against allowing same-sex couples to receive a marriage license in 2009 but has changed his mind and supports a “Yes” vote on Question 1 this year.

      “Stacey is an example of folks – from all across the political spectrum – who are changing their minds about the freedom to marry,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage. “Through more than 200,000 one-on-one conversations, we know that Stacey isn’t alone. Thousands of Mainers have changed their minds and support allowing same-sex couples to receive a marriage license.”

      Fitts: “I’ve always been a Republican. I voted against same-sex marriage in 2009. But I know some gay people, and I’ve talked with them and with my family.

      “Deciding who you marry is the most important decision you will ever make.

      “I don’t believe the government should tell anybody who they can love and who they can marry.

      “Voting ‘Yes’ protects religious freedom and it protects individual freedom. To me, that’s what our country is all about.

      “We should allow gay people the freedom to marry, and we should protect individual liberty, too. Voting ‘Yes’ on Question 1 will do both.”

      The 30-second ad can be viewed at: www.mainersunited.org/ads.

      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 http://www.mainersunited.org.

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    Mainers United Fact Check: Protect Marriage Maine, “Donald Mendell” Ad, Built on False Premise

    Posted on October 8, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

    In a press release, Mainers United took on the first ad released by the largest of the three marriage equality opposing groups this year:

      PORTLAND – Protect Marriage Maine makes a number of baseless and misleading claims in a new ad featuring a school guidance counselor, Donald Mendell, who also appeared as a spokesperson during the 2009 campaign to repeal the freedom to marry.

      “The issues raised in this ad have nothing to do with allowing same-sex couples to receive a marriage license,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage. “People have strong opinions on both sides of marriage. Allowing same-sex couples to marry won’t change people’s freedom to speak out and say what they believe. Question 1 is about allowing our friends, co-workers and neighbors to have the freedom to marry the person they love.”

      Claim 1:
      “If Question 1 passes, redefining marriage will have consequences for Mainers. … When gay marriage has been passed elsewhere, people have been fired, sued, fined and punished.”

      The premise of the ad is flawed and misleading.
      Allowing same-sex couples to receive a marriage license has not caused an increase in lawsuits, firings or other negative consequences in any state where marriage has been made legal.

      A Seattle Times national investigation “failed to turn up any evidence that same-sex marriage had produced a rash of suits involving businesspeople. We also checked with human rights commissions in four of the six states where marriage is legal; the commissions said there was not an increase in discrimination findings or suits involving same sex marriage.”

      In Washington, a group of law professors wrote a letter to Governor Gregoire citing only six cases over nine years in the United States where religious organizations or groups with a particular religious belief against same-same marriage have been pulled into litigation over the issue. Only one involved a business refusing service to a same-sex couple (in New Mexico, a state that does not permit marriage for same-sex couples but does ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation along with race, religion, sex, national origin, etc.).

      A recent Maine Today Media “Truth Test” echoed those findings, stating: “We checked with human rights commissions in New Hampshire and Vermont, where same-sex marriage is allowed. Connecticut’s didn’t return a message and data was mostly unavailable by press time in Iowa and Massachusetts. There were no gay-marriage related claims against religious organizations in any of the states.”

      State anti-discrimination laws, such as the one supported by Maine voters in 2005, set the rules governing claims of discrimination. Those rules will not change in Maine, regardless of the vote on Question 1 in November and are not related to marriage.

      Claim 2:
      “I was a school counselor for over 20 years, and once nominated teacher of the year. Yet when I supported traditional marriage, they tried to get me fired. They went after my state license, claiming that supporting marriage as between one man and one woman was discriminatory.”

      This baseless complaint has nothing to do with the marriage initiative voters will face this November.
      At the time colleagues of Mr. Mendell’s filed work-related complaints against him in 2009, Maine did not allow same-sex couples to marry. He was working as a school guidance counselor and was licensed as a social worker, and ultimately the complaints against him were dropped without him facing any repercussions.

      The complaint was filed with the Office of Licensing and Registration, Board of Social Work Licensure, during the final weeks of the People’s Veto campaign. But to suggest that allowing same-sex couples to receive a marriage license caused the complaint is inaccurate and misleading.

      The complaint was the result of activities by Mr. Mendell that some of his colleagues (not pro-marriage campaign operatives or activists) believed would compromise the ability of students to seek appropriate support from a guidance counselor in their school.

      In addition, the complaint was based not on Maine’s anti-discrimination law, which was affirmed by voters in 2005, but instead on an interpretation of National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics.

      According to the complaints, they were prompted by concern that students, and particularly LGBT students, would be afraid to approach Mr. Mendell in his position as a school guidance counselor and social worker for support.

      The complaints against Mr. Mendell were dismissed by the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation in the Baldacci administration on First Amendment grounds.

      Mr. Mendell’s right to participate publicly in a political campaign were confirmed by a Democratic administration that held a view contrary to the one expressed by Mr. Mendell.

      There was no lawsuit filed in relation to this complaint or Mr. Mendell’s activities as a spokesperson and advocate for the repeal of allowing same-sex couples to receive a marriage license. In essence, the system worked.

    Via Protect Maine Marriage, run by the oh-so very divorced Bob Emrich, who loves to spout off about “traditional divorce”, er, marriage:

    (Photo: Silent Puppet, er, Partner Bob Emrich watches as SCOTUS-stymied NOM president Brian Brown runs the marriage opposition show in Maine- same as they did in 2009 and in all other state equality battles throughout the country.)

    “We are beginning our campaign with two ads that will run in rotation – “The Good of Marriage” and “Don Mendell–Consequences.” Taken together, they show how marriage as the union of one man and one woman has served Maine well for hundreds of years, and if Question One passes there will be profound consequences for those who express support for traditional marriage.”

    Here is the Mendell ad; see for yourself.

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    (UPDATED) New Mainers United ‘Yes on 1’ Clip: Jeanette & Paul Rediker

    Posted on October 3, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

    Take a look:

    “Jeanette and Paul Rediker of Fort Fairfield, Maine – married for 42 years – talk about what marriage marriage means to their family and why they’re voting “Yes” on Question 1.”

    From Mainers United’s 10/4/12 press release:

      Mainers United for Marriage today launched a new statewide TV ad featuring Paul and Jeanette Rediker from Fort Fairfield.

      “Our campaign will continue to tell the real stories of Maine families and why marriage matters to them,”
      said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage. “We know that the opponents of the freedom to marry plan a media blitz built on misinformation and funded by shadowy out-of-state groups that are suing the state of Maine. We believe the best answer to their attacks is to have families talk about marriage.”

      The 30-second ad tells the story of the Rediker family as they found out that their oldest daughter is a lesbian and the advice that they received from the family’s priest.

      “We weren’t always so gay friendly,”
      Paul says in the ad, after talking about being married to Jeanette for 42 years. “We didn’t even grow up in an era when it was discussed.”

      “We had just found out that our daughter was gay,” Jeanette says. “There was a lot of emotions. We went to see a priest, and I will never forget the answer he told me: ‘She is the same person that you loved yesterday.’”

      “We love our daughter,” Paul says.

      “I would be very happy if my oldest daughter could get married at home,” Jeanette says.

      The ad, which is the third from Mainers United for Marriage, will air in the Portland, Bangor and Presque Isle media markets.

      The ad can be viewed at: http://www.mainersunited.org/ads.

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    (UPDATED) ‘Marriage for All Families’ Releases First of 4 Part Series Supporting Marriage Equality: ‘Stories from Maine’

    Posted on October 3, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

    “The first of a four-part series made in each of the states that have marriage equality votes this November, this short shares the experiences of same-sex couples who want to get married in Maine.”


    From the site comes this description of the 4 state project and its goals, as well as an endorsement from Bruce Springsteen (h/t Scott Wooledge for the accompanying graphic, which has quickly gone viral):

      Marriage For All Families captures the real experience of same-sex couples, to show that they have the same challenges, responsibilities, and aspirations as other couples. Still, they are strangers in the eyes of the law. That’s why marriage equality is so important: it aligns personality reality with legal reality, as a simple matter of fairness and equality.

    Here is The Boss’ original 2009 marriage equality endorsement (h/t Joe.My.God):


      Like many of you who live in New Jersey, I’ve been following the progress of the marriage-equality legislation currently being considered in Trenton. I’ve long believed in and have always spoken out for the rights of same sex couples and fully agree with Governor Corzine when he writes that, “The marriage-equality issue should be recognized for what it truly is — a civil rights issue that must be approved to assure that every citizen is treated equally under the law.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement and urge those who support equal treatment for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to let their voices be heard now.

    It should be noted that although a marriage equality bill passed through the New Jersey legislature easily earlier this year, Tea Party darling Gov. Christie vetoed it.

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