Community Conversations

Please click on one of the dates to join us for a series of Community Conversations: 

Sunday, Dec 6 - Augusta
Monday, Dec 7 - Ogunquit 
Tuesday, Dec 8 - Ellsworth
Thursday, Dec 10 - Bangor
Tuesday, Dec 15 - Lewiston*
Wed, Dec 16 - Portland**

* Note: The Lewiston / Auburn Community Coversation was originally scheduled for Wednesday, Dec 10 but due to the massive snowstorm it has been rescheduled for Tuesday, December 15. 

**Note: The Portland Community Conversation was previously scheduled for Tuesday, Dec 15 but is being rescheduled to accommodate for the Downeast Pride Alliance event the same night.  

Marriage Equality by State

Currently five states recognize marriage for same-sex couples: MassachusettsConnecticutVermontNew Hampshire, and Iowa. California's Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality in May 2008, but the ruling was narrowly defeated at the polls in November 2008. Maine's Legislature passed a marriage equality bill in May 2009, but it is on hold until the resolution on a People's Veto referendum on November 3rd.  

Massachusetts

Massachusetts became the first state to recognize same-sex marriages with the 2004 state Supreme Court decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. Since then opponents of marriage equality have tried, unsuccessfully, to ban marriage for same-sex couples in Massachusetts by putting referendum items on state ballots. The latest attempt, in 2007, was defeated in the state legislature by a vote of 151 to 45. Under Massachusetts law, no more anti-marriage referenda can be introduced until 2012. More than 18,000 same-sex couples have entered into legal civil marriages in Massachusetts since 2004.

In July 2008 the Massachusetts legislature voted to repeal a 1913 law that barred couples whose same-sex unions would not be recognized in their home states from marrying in Massachusetts. This ancient law had been revived in 2004 by then-Governor Mitt Romney, who disagreed with his state's decision to allow marriage equality. The 2008 repeal was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick, thereby opening the door to marriage in Massachusetts for same-sex couples who reside in other states. Read EqualityMaine's response to the repealand check our information for Maine coupleswho are thinking about going to Massachusetts to get married.

For more about marriage in Massachusetts, please visit Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and MassEquality.

Connecticut

On October 10, 2008, Connecticut became the third state to allow marriage for same-sex couples. In deciding for the plaintiffs in Kerrigan & Mock et al. v. Connecticut Department of Public Health, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to bar same-sex couples from marrying.

The case began in 2004, and in 2005 Connecticut's legislature approved a civil union law. In 2007 the plaintiffs argued that the denial of marriage by the civil union law was arbitrary and failed to provide gay and lesbian citizens with the equal treatment the Constitution requires; the Connecticut Supreme Court agreed.

Couples who are not residents of Connecticut will be able to marry there, but if they are residents of states that do not recognize marriage for same-sex couples, their unions will not be recognized at home. This also means that if couples ever wish to end their marriage, they may do so only as a resident of a state that recognizes their marriages. 

Learn more about marriage in Connecticut at GLAD.

Vermont

Vermont was the first state to adopt civil unions, in 2000, and in fact it was Vermont's Legislature that coined the phrase. Legislators had been ordered by Vermont's Supreme Court, in a marriage case argued and won by GLAD, to provide equal benefits and protections to same-sex couples. While the court ordered full equality, it left it to the Legislature to determine how to implement such protections. The Legislature decided against marriage and instead created a separate institution called civil unions. 

Civil unions provide same-sex couples with all state-level benefits and protections but do not provide the federal benefits of marriage.

Although the Legislature was ordered to provide full equality to same-sex couples, creating a separate institution for LGBT people did not achieve that goal. Couples in civil unions were denied some of the basic protections of marriage because, simply put, they were not married. Separate but equal is not possible and in April 2009, Vermont's Legislature passed a marriage equality bill. Vermont was the first state in the country to embrace marriage equality through the Legislature without a court order.  

Governor Douglass vetoed the marriage bill but the following day the Senate overrode the governor's veto 23-5. In an historic vote on April 7, the House narrowly voted to also override the governor's veto, by a vote of 100-49. The law went into effect in September 2009. 

For more information, visit Vermont Freedom to Marry.

Iowa

On April 3, 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously to overturn a 10-year-old ban on marriage for same-sex couples. The 69-page decision, which upholds basic fairness and constitutional equal protection, maintains a church’s right to decide who can be married under its roof.

The seven justices ruled that Iowa’s ban on same-sex marriage treated gay and lesbian couples unequally under the law.

“We are firmly convinced that the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective,” the court said in an opinion written by Justice Mark Cady. “The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification.”

The law went into effect just days after the April 2009 ruling. For more information on marriage in Iowa, visit One Iowa 

New Hampshire

New Hampshire had civil unions for just one year when its Legislature passed a marriage equality bill in May 2009. Governor Lunch threatened to veto the bill unless more religious exemptions were written into the language. Once the House and Senate amended the bill to affirm stronger religious freedom, the governor signed the marriage bill into law. 

The law goes into effect January 2010. For more information on marriage in New Hampshire, visit GLAD.

 

California

In May 2008 the California Supreme Court decided that barring same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional. This historic ruling, issued in In re Marriage Cases (Six consolidated appeals) meant that same-sex couples could begin marrying in California in June 2008. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued the following response: "I respect the Court’s decision and as Governor, I will uphold its ruling. Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling." Read EqualityMaine's response to the California ruling.

On Election Day 2008, California citizens voted on Proposition 8, which sought to eliminate marriage equality in the state. It also sought to amend the state's constitution with language that limits marriage to heterosexual couples. In a very close vote, Prop 8 prevailed, 52% to 48%. By comparison, the 2000 ballot measure that established a state law against marriage equality -- the law the Supreme Court overturned in 2008 -- passed by 61% of the vote. Although the passage of Prop 8 was a tremendous disappointment for all those who support equality, it is heartening to see that the margin of support for discrimination dropped significantly between 2000 and 2008.

Prop 8's opponents remain hopeful that California will reverse itself in the coming years. Learn more about marriage in California, visit Equality California.

Maine

Marriage Equality in Maine

Winning Marriage: videos and TV ads

EqualityMaine at 25

This year, EqualityMaine celebrated 25 years of progress for Maine's LGBT community. Check out our 25th anniversary celebration video.

Sign Up for Updates

See how EqualityMaine, its coalition partners, and the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign won the hearts and minds of Maine people through videos and television ads. read more »

Winning Marriage: videos and TV ads