Emotions High Over Gay Marriage in Maine

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Maine's legislature is the latest to take up gay marriage, following four states who have already make it legal.

Leaders invited residents to a public hearing, Thursday, where opponents and supporters alike turned out by the thousands.

The hearing is the latest example of how gay marriage has become one of the most divisive issues in America.

Almost 4,000 people attended the event-- so many people that it created traffic jams around the Augusta auditorium.

Those who wanted to speak were limited to three minutes at the mic.

"Marriage is a God-ordained union between one man and one woman," a gay marriage opponent said.

"Simply put, this bill will allow people to live and let live," another resident countered.

Gay marriage supporters were asked to wear red and many did.

"It's wonderful to have all these people, all this red, surrounding us," said one gay rights supporter. "Politically and emotionally, this is an important day for us."

Amy Malette also supports gay marriage but says she's not necessarily doing it for herself.

"[It's] more for everybody who would want to get married and want to have equal rights," she said.

But both sides were well-represented. Many backers of preserving traditional marriage drove long distances so they could say why they oppose same-sex marriage.

"Primarily we're here as people of faith. In the eyes of my God, it's not right," said opponent Rick Sargent.

"This is about a man and a woman-- marriage and family," said Tim Russell, another traditional marriage supporter. "We open it up to anybody, then marriage means nothing."

Gay rights activists are pushing to have same sex marriage legal throughout all of New England by 2012.

So far, it's legal in Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut.

Maine's lawmakers could vote to approve or reject gay marriage in the next few weeks or it could go before the entire population as a ballot measure.

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