Maine will join Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont in allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Yesterday, Maine governor John E. Baldacci signed into law LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom. The law allows same-sex couples to marry and becomes effective in September.
“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions,” Governor Baldacci said. “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.”
Opponents of gay marriage say they will ask voters to repeal the law.
While federal law still only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman, the Maine legislation is significant for employers because of the host of benefits and tax breaks for married couples governed by state law.
There are 5 states that will allow same-sex couples to marry. In May 2008, the Supreme Court of California ruled that state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples are unconstitutional, but voters approved a ballot measure in November that banned gay marriage once again.