Thursday, May 07, 2009

Maine People's Veto Maze

Quaintness in Maine is not limited to model lighthouses, the people's veto referendum procedure adds many deep convolutions to lawmaking. The Dark Side could use these wrinkles to push out implementation of same-sex marriage there into next year. If they can, you know they will.

For a humorous view, check the Portland paper's pinko Bill Nemitz. He channels a church lady.

For the steps and timing, the Bangor paper ran the tedious details.

The state constitution covers it thus:
Section 17. Proceedings for people's veto.

1. Petition procedure; petition for people's veto. Upon written petition of electors, the number of which shall not be less than 10% of the total vote for Governor cast in the last gubernatorial election preceding the filing of such petition, and addressed to the Governor and filed in the office of the Secretary of State by the hour of 5:00 p.m., on or before the 90th day after the recess of the Legislature, or if such 90th day is a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, by the hour of 5:00 p.m., on the preceding day which is not a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, requesting that one or more Acts, bills, resolves or resolutions, or part or parts thereof, passed by the Legislature but not then in effect by reason of the provisions of the preceding section, be referred to the people, such Acts, bills, resolves, or resolutions or part or parts thereof as are specified in such petition shall not take effect until 30 days after the Governor shall have announced by public proclamation that the same have been ratified by a majority of the electors voting thereon at a statewide or general election.

2. Effect of referendum. The effect of any Act, bill, resolve or resolution or part or parts thereof as are specified in such petition shall be suspended upon the filing of such petition. If it is later finally determined, in accordance with any procedure enacted by the Legislature pursuant to the Constitution, that such petition was invalid, such Act, bill, resolve or resolution or part or parts thereof shall then take effect upon the day following such final determination.

3. Referral to electors; proclamation by Governor. As soon as it appears that the effect of any Act, bill, resolve, or resolution or part or parts thereof has been suspended by petition in manner aforesaid, the Governor by public proclamation shall give notice thereof and of the time when such measure is to be voted on by the people, which shall be at the next statewide or general election, whichever comes first, not less than 60 days after such proclamation. If the Governor fails to order such measure to be submitted to the people at the next statewide or general election, the Secretary of State shall, by proclamation, order such measure to be submitted to the people at such an election and such order shall be sufficient to enable the people to vote.

In this case:

  • The outraged anti-gay sorts first need to file an application to challenge the law.
  • The secretary of state has 10 days to write a description of the challenge for the petitions.
  • This keeps the law from taking effect unless it was an emergency law, which it was not.
  • Within 90 days of the end of the legislative session (likely June 17), they need 55,087 valid voter signatures on petitions to reverse the law.
  • The petition drives could start sooner though, before the end of May if the application goes on file now.
  • The challengers have 90 days to gather the signatures (likely the middle of September).
  • The secretary has 30 days to verify the signatures.
  • General election ballots must be printed 45 days before the election, so it is very unlikely that if there are enough signatures that this would go on the November 2009 ballot.
  • If it does not, the law still is on hold until the next election (the next primary [June 2010] is possible, as is the November 2010 general).

Among the possibilities are that the voters, even older church-going ones will be sick of this mess. They might not provide enough signatures, even if squeezed while sitting in the pews. More important, the polls and recent experience suggest that this would lose badly in an election. Only petulance could drive the recall effort.

This happened last year, when the then Christian Civic League (now a humbled arm of Focus on the Family and recast as the Family Policy Council) tried the rally. Over the years, they had repealed lightweight gay-rights wording in anti-discrimination laws a couple of times. They failed last year, not even getting 5,000 of the 15,000 signatures they'd need for a vote.

They have gone to the well many times, several with the support of the reactionary Roman Catholic bishop there. They have pretty well emptied the reservoir of anti-gay money and emotion. There is also a question of whether Focus on the Family would spare cash for advertising and staff when the CCL folk have already proven themselves such losers and drains on resources. Even with the help of the tiny Jeremiah Project folk, they would need out-of-state resources.

Equality Maine has won against the same crew. They claim they're ready this time too. Executive Director Betsy Smith told the Washington Blade that her organization is "fully prepared to run and win that campaign."

She noted the low threshold of signatures and expected a delay on implementation and a vote.

Follow-up: Tip of the toupee to Pam's House Blend for getting and publishing the National Organization for Marriage's promise to support a people's veto in Maine. NOM is using this as yet another fund-raising ploy and there is some question about their sincerity in giving money and other support to the anti folk in Maine. Yet, Maggie Gallagher and her motley crew will at least crow about this.

Friday Follow-up: At the end of Thursday, the application for a people's veto was filed.

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Anonymous said...

I think this is great news! As soon as I heard it, I went to the NOM website and donated some funds to help overturn this bill in Maine.

If they could do it in liberal California, they can certainly do it in Maine!

massmarrier said...

Maine anti-gay/anti-SSM folk have already failed at this. The public turned them down at the ballot and then in a petition drive. The days of scare tactics fooling Mainers seem long gone.

Anonymous said...

Amazing that some people were asleep in anatomy class. The sexual and bulk excretory organs are uniquely designed so there is no such thing as homosexual "marriage". It is an act that does violence to the human body and no tactics, no political favor from people who care nothing about anything will ever change that. If all the laws were changed, it cannot change reality.

massmarrier said...

Yo, Anon...

That is silly beyond belief. For the millions of U.S. couples who cannot or choose not to reproduce and for those millions who adopt, I hope they forgive such literal and asinine comments. Marriage is not reducible to genitalia or making babies. It suits dogma but not cultural or legal or historical reality.