A gay marriage bill received a strong
endorsement today by Maine's Judiciary Committee. The committee
strongly recommended the House and Senate approve the bill.
Eleven of the 14 members voted in favor
of the bill, two voted against it and one, Republican Senator David
Hastings of Fryeburg, wanted to send it to the voters, reports the
Bangor Daily News.
The vote comes after the committee held
a heated debate on the bill attended by nearly 4,000 people last
week. Lawmakers changed the event's initial location from Cony High
School to the Augusta Civic Center to accommodate the large crowd.
Supporters of the bill – who far
outnumbered detractors – cheered when its primary sponsor, Senator
Dennis S. Damon, delivered his opening remarks.
“This bill is fair. This bill's time
has come,” Damon, a Democrat from Trenton, told the crowd, who
responded with a standing ovation. “It recognizes the worth and
dignity of every man and every woman among us.”
Advocates continue to lobby Governor
John Baldacci, a Democrat, who has recently ratcheted down his
previously stated gay marriage opposition to neutrality. This
morning, they delivered 10,000 postcards to the governor's office
asking him to support the bill.
The legislation is expected to sail
through the House, where Democrats far outnumber Republicans, but
will likely encounter turbulence in the Senate, where Democrats hold
a narrow majority.