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Home > News > People's Veto on Same-Sex Marriage

May 19, 2009
Contact: Matthew Dunlap

People's Veto Effort on Same-Sex Marriage Receives Ballot Question

AUGUSTA , Maine—Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap in concert with staff from the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions completed work today on the master petition for citizens wishing to reject the recently enacted law that would legalize same-sex unions. LD 1020, “An Act to Promote Marriage Equality and Affirm Religious Freedom” was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor on May 6, 2009, and scheduled to take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the Legislature, scheduled for mid-June.

Pursuant to Article IV, Part Third, Section 17 of the Maine Constitution, citizens have an amount of time—from when a bill is signed by the Governor until it is effective—to collect and have verified a number of signatures of registered Maine voters equivalent to 10% of the total votes for Governor in the last gubernatorial election in order to force a statewide vote on the enacted measure. The current threshold to force the People's Veto is 55,087 certified signatures.

The Secretary of State is charged with drafting the question for the ballot. “This isn't an easy process,” said Dunlap. “We draw on suggestions from supporters of the veto as well as opponents, from the Attorney General's office, and from volunteers who give their expertise on the Ballot Clarity Advisory Board,” he said. “The goal we're seeking is informing a voter who may be unfamiliar with the subject matter, but who cares enough to make and informed vote, what the net effect would be of a “Yes” or “No” vote,” Dunlap noted.

The question on the ballot will appear on the petition as the following:

“Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?”

Public Law Chapter 82, of the 124 th Maine Legislature, will go into effect unless an apparent number of signatures are turned in by the 90th day after adjournment. A stay is then put on the effectiveness of the law, and the Secretary of State has until 30 days after the 90 days after adjournment to certify the submitted signatures. If the Secretary of State rules sufficient signatures have been affixed on the instrument of petition, the stay continues until after the voters decide on the question at a statewide election.