AUGUSTA – Same-sex marriage was on its way to becoming legal in Maine on Saturday, and state senators were seriously considering a measure that would require all motorcycle operators and passengers to wear helmets.

The initiatives, however, weren’t the work of Maine’s newly elected, Republican-controlled Legislature. They were the ideas of a much younger legislative body that’s temporarily taken over the State House.

About 130 high school students from across Maine are running for office; lobbying elected officials; proposing, debating and voting on laws; and answering questions from reporters this weekend as part of the Maine Youth in Government program sponsored by the state YMCA.

The role-playing festivities, which started Friday, wrap up today with a vote for governor after a campaign that lasted a mere 24 hours.

“I’ve always been kind of interested in how this process works,” said John Holt, a 17-year-old senior at Fairfield’s Lawrence High School, who was playing the role of state senator. “I like being able to have an opinion on something and be able to voice that.”

The 130 participants came to Augusta from high schools across Maine. Some of those from Washington Academy in East Machias were foreign students from Jamaica, Ukraine and elsewhere, said Lonney Steeves, the program director.

“There’s an amazing diversity this year,” he said. “There’s an international flavor, as well as the kids from the state of Maine.”

Steeves said the number of participants grew this year after organizers switched program dates. The program typically took place each spring, but this weekend’s program is the first to take place in the fall.

Heather Cousins, a Lawrence High School sophomore from Clinton, had proposed legislation that would require women to register for the Selective Service System, just as their male counterparts do.

“I don’t think it’s going to pass,” Cousins, 15, said Saturday afternoon, citing a recent 16-1 committee vote against the bill. “It’s not going well.”

Fellow legislators had determined it wasn’t within their purview to change federal law, she said.

Nevertheless, Cousins — who was role-playing a state representative — was enjoying her day at the State House.

“I like that we actually get to use the State House,” she said. “I like how we get to do it without party lines.”

As part of the governor’s Cabinet, Lucy Wilcox was at work Saturday lobbying legislators to pass a bill legalizing the use of marijuana and encouraging them to reject a bill authorizing the construction of a multibillion-dollar rail system in Maine.

“It costs too much,” said Wilcox, a sophomore at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone who was playing the role of business and labor commissioner. “It’s just not going to work.”

Wilcox, 15, of New Gloucester, is participating in her second year of the Youth in Government program. It offers a firsthand look at how government works, she said.

“You get a better sense of the process instead of seeing it from the outside,” she said.