June 20, 2012

Gay marriage backers to seek change in ballot wording

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

PORTLAND — Gay-marriage advocates said today the proposed wording of the November ballot question to allow same-sex couples to get married is "inaccurate" but they don't believe the omission is politically motivated.

click image to enlarge

Michael Gray, center, the pastor of Old Orchard Beach United Methodist Church and the lead signer on the citizens initiative speaks during the Mainers United for Marriage press conference in Portland on Wednesday, June 20, 2012. To the left is John Paterson, the president of the board of directors for the ACLU of Maine and former deputy Maine Attorney General. To the right is Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, said at an afternoon press conference in Portland that his group will provide a formal legal argument to Secretary of State Charlie Summers to try to get information added to the question that mentions religious protections.

Last week, Summers released this proposed question: "Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?"

The release triggers a 30-day public comment period. After that, Summers will release the final wording.

"The question, as currently drafted, falls short," McTighe said.

Supporters say the title of the law that voters will consider is "An Act to Allow Marriage License for Same-Sex Couples and Protect Religious Freedom." The law spells out that "no member of the clergy" will be required to perform any marriage "in violation of the religious beliefs of that member of clergy."

Opponents of same-sex marriage say adding the religious exemption to the ballot question is redundant, since clergy already cannot be required to perform marriages.

Although Summers, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senator, opposes gay marriage, McTighe said he  did not think the omission was political.

"We have no reason to think it was politically motivated in any way," he said.

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