Warily eying nearby Massachusetts and New Hampshire with same-sex unions, Maine's legislature passed a gay civil-rights bill yesterday. On the other hand, it also made everyone aware this neither provided nor was any type of preparation for same-sex marriage. The bill protects citizens from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
After years of similar bills failing, this one earned passage apparently because of an amendment holding same-sex marriage at arm's length. The amendment states that the law could not "be construed to create, add, alter or abolish any right to marry that may exist under the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of Maine or the laws of this State." Following the passage in his chamber, Senator Barry Hobbins, a Democrat from Saco, said, "This amendment will make sure that everyone know that there is no nexus between this civil rights bill and gay marriage." So there, he might have added, but didn't.
The vote was 25-10 in the Senate and 91-58 in the House.
Meanwhile, the anti crowd was pouting. The Christian Civic League of Maine had led fights against such legislation. That seems to be a small, ineffectual group run by a minister and his wife. It is in the no-special-right camp, a position of fading influence nationwide.