In the midst of a new statewide effort to legalize gay marriage, longtime radio host Lori Voornas came out to her listeners this week, to tell them of her upcoming union with her same-sex partner.

But Voornas, who has been a morning host on Portland stations for nearly 20 years, said her announcement on air Tuesday was not timed to coincide with the start of a petition drive to put same-sex marriage on the statewide ballot. It was strictly personal.

As someone who talks on the radio for a living — about celebrities, about news, about her everyday life — Voornas decided that not revealing her upcoming union and her sexual orientation would severely limit what she can talk about.

“If I hadn’t said it, I wouldn’t be able to talk about my life,” said Voornas, 45, a host of the morning show on pop music station WJBQ-FM. “I’ve struggled with it for years, and I had fallen into a pattern of not talking about it. Getting married is a big deal, and that’s what pushed me to do it.”

Voornas and her partner of 18 months won’t get legally married, but they will be united in a ceremony on Peaks Island on Sunday.

Voornas said she calls it “getting married” because, in her view, that’s what she’s doing, even if it won’t be a legal marriage.

“If it smells like a wedding, walks like a wedding and is as expensive as a wedding, it’s a wedding,” said Voornas.

Though Voornas said her decision wasn’t political, her announcement is likely to get some of her listeners thinking and talking about same-sex marriage.

“By virtue of her being a public figure, Lori’s announcement will certainly spark conversations (about same-sex marriage) in households around the state, and that’s very exciting,” said Ali Vander Zanden, political director for EqualityMaine, the lead organization in the same-sex marriage effort. “Anytime anyone comes out, it starts conversations and leads to greater awareness of marriage equality and why it matters.”

Voornas said she got an overwhelmingly positive response to her announcement. She said she got more than 500 messages through Facebook, and not one was negative.

After her big day Sunday, Voornas will take a vacation, to pack in preparation for moving to a new home.

She did not reveal her partner’s name, since her partner is not a public figure.

Voornas said she “obviously” supports the cause of same-sex marriage but doesn’t see herself becoming an activist for that cause.

She said the main thing that’s different — now that she has come out to her listeners — is that she can talk more about herself.

“A lot of what makes you good at radio is that people can feel like they know you,” said Voornas. “There’s not a lot in my life that’s going to change, it’s just you’re going to hear more about it.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]