Activists Try for Gay Marriage Again in Maine

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Gay activists in Maine want voters to reconsider whether to allow gay marriage in their state.

In 2009, state lawmakers approved gay marriage only to have voters overturn it by a margin of 53 to 47 percent. Maine is the only New England state that doesn't allow gay marriage or civil unions.

EqualityMaine, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Maine Women's Lobby and their supporters believe the people of Maine have had a change of heart and are ready to legalize marriages between homosexuals.

The activists turned in petitions signed by 105,000 voters last week, which is almost double the number needed to force a referendum in November. The petitions must be certified by election officials.

Opponents say they are ready for a referendum fight.

"I expect it will be the same coalition except only broader than it was before," Rev. Bob Emrich, a Baptist pastor in Plymouth who helped lead the last campaign to defeat gay marriage, said.

"I don't think the people in Maine want to do it again," Emrich said. "But here it is, and we'll do what we've got to do.

Gay marriage is recognized in the New England states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont. Civil unions for homosexual couples are allowed in Rhode Island. New York and Iowa also allow gay marriage. It is also legal in Washington, D.C.

In the six states where gay-marriage is allowed, the laws were enacted either through court orders or legislative votes, not through a statewide popular vote.

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