Thursday, April 24, 2014
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Carroll Conley, executive director of the Christian Civic League, said the group is instructing churches to make sure their bylaws protect them from having to perform same-sex marriages if they oppose it. The league will also consider whether it's necessary to introduce legislation to further protect notaries and town clerks who will be required to serve gay couples seeking to get married.
The Maine law exempts churches and other religious institutions from being required to perform same-sex weddings, but opponents argue that it does not protect notaries public and business owners from lawsuits. Maine law approved by voters in 2005 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
"I think the most immediate plan is us looking to see what the ramifications are with regard to individuals and churches that find themselves in conflict," Conley said.
In the days immediately following the vote, emails suggested that opponents might consider gathering signatures to call for a repeal of the new gay-marriage law.
"There's been a lot of talk about whether to offer another challenge," he said. "There's no way to answer that question in terms of when or if."
Conley said the issue passed in Maine because of efforts by Democrats to get voters to the polls, and he credited gay-rights supporters for getting the vote on the ballot during a presidential election.
"Everybody greatly underestimated how energized the Democratic base would be," he said. "We got our hats handed to us. We do not consider this an indictment against conservative values, but we need to look at how to effectively mobilize voters. They did an incredible job."
Yet gay-rights supporters say they sense a change in attitude nationwide that goes beyond Democratic voter turnout. It started in May, with Obama becoming the first president to endorse gay marriage, and continued to November with his re-election, Sainz said. Voters in Wisconsin made Tammy Baldwin the first openly gay woman elected to the U.S. Senate, and Iowa voters re-elected a state supreme court justice who helped bring gay marriage to that state.
Sainz also noted that more members of Congress support gay rights than ever, including U.S. Sen.-elect Angus King of Maine, who said early in his campaign that he supports gay marriage.
"It's folly for opponents of marriage equality to believe this was an isolated incident in which Americans made a wrong decision," he said. "It's spin on their part. The truth is Americans rallied to the side of equality."
Susan M. Cover can be contacted at 621-5643 or at: