December 4, 2012

Maine gay-marriage law effective Dec. 29

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Sarah Dowling, left, and Linda Wolfe of Freeport would like to wed soon.

2012 Staff File Photo/John Ewing

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People celebrate after learning same sex marriage had passed at the Mainers United for Marriage party at the Holiday Inn by the Bay Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Marriage licenses for same-sex couples in Maine could be issued beginning Dec. 29.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

She said she and Wolfe would like to be the first gay couple in the state to get married, and will check with Freeport Town Hall and discuss it with Wolfe.

No matter their decision, she said, the news made Monday "an exciting day."

"I'm happy for us, I'm happy for our children and I'm happy for our grandchildren and the world they are going to grow up in," Dowling said. "And I'm happy for wedding cake, too."

Carroll Conley, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine and a leading opponent of the ballot initiative that legalized same-sex marriage, said he has been unable to get the state to answer the many questions he still has about how gay marriage will be implemented.

"We're dealing with notaries and clerks and religious organizations," Conley said. Many of them don't approve of gay marriage on religious grounds and object to taking a role.

He said cities and towns should consider voting to appoint deputy clerks to issue same-sex marriage licenses in places where clerks are "conscientious objectors."

"The other issue we're dealing with is religious institutions that rent their properties out for weddings," Conley said.

He said churches that don't want to open their doors to same-sex couples don't know what their rights will be if they refuse to allow same-sex ceremonies.

"We do have some legal advice that it's a different circumstance when a church is renting to just its members as opposed to the general public," Conley said. "Before we advise churches, we want to make sure that we are giving them sound advice."

The law says, in part, that it does not require "any church, religious denomination or other religious institution to host any marriage in violation of" its religious beliefs. "The refusal to perform or host a marriage ... cannot be the basis for a lawsuit or liability."

South Portland City Hall won't be open on Dec. 29, but will be open on Dec. 31 during its normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with marriage licenses available until 4 p.m., said Assistant City Clerk Karen Morrill.

Morrill said she hasn't heard questions from many people about when same-sex couples can come in to get married, but that may be because the clerk's office posted a sign saying it wouldn't be an option before Dec. 26.

Marriage ceremonies at South Portland City Hall must be scheduled. People can get marriage licenses on a walk-in basis, she said.

"I'm hoping we'll be bombarded," Morrill said.

Morrill, who supports the new law, said that as a notary public she could legally refuse to conduct a marriage ceremony, but her office wouldn't do that.

"We would never refuse anyone," she said.

Staff Writer Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@mainetoday.com

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Ellie MacCallum, left, of Windham, receives a kiss from her partner, Judy Eycleshymer, right, after they learned same sex marriage had passed while at the Mainers United for Marriage party at the Holiday Inn by the Bay Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Marriage licenses for same-sex couples in Maine could be issued beginning Dec. 29.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

  


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