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BREAKING NEWS! Maine voters approve marriage equality

PORTLAND, Maine – Marriage equality wins in Maine.

Voters in Maine on Tuesday set history on Tuesday by becoming the first state to approve a referendum to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, according to Mainers United For Marriage.

The group tweeted:

VICTORY: Maine voters approve the freedom to marry! For the first time, marriage wins at the ballot.

Same-sex marriage was approved by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, on May 6, 2009, but opponents overturned the matter by referendum on Nov. 3, 2009.

Since then, a majority of the American public has become supportive of marriage equality and Maine’s Question 1 passed with more than 50% of the vote, according to preliminary results.

HRC President Chad Griffin made the following statement:

“This is a landmark election for marriage equality and we will forever look back at this year as a critical turning point in the movement for full citizenship for LGBT people. Voters in Maine came to the common-sense conclusion that all people deserve the ability to make loving, lifelong commitments through marriage.

“We are thrilled for all Maine families and for the dedicated campaign that led this effort through to the end. As we celebrate victory tonight we know we have added momentum to ensure that this victory is soon felt in every corner of this country. Poll after poll shows a majority of Americans supporting marriage equality and the numbers continue to grow every single day.

“Mainers United for Marriage ran a stellar campaign under the leadership of Matt McTighe and HRC has been proud to have been a part of this fight since the beginning.”

HRC has contributed more than $800,000 to advance marriage equality in Maine, sent 85,000 emails to supporters of marriage equality, recruited several hundred volunteers and sent staff to work on the campaign.

Mainers are expected to begin getting marriage licenses in mid-December.

Marc Solomon of Freedom to Marry issued the following statement:

“Today, a majority in Maine voted in favor of loving and committed same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry. Now the commitment gay and lesbian couples have made in life will be respected equally under the law, celebrated before their loved ones, and called what it is: marriage.

“It’s hard to overstate the national significance of this vote. For years, our opponents have argued that we could not win a majority vote at the ballot. Today, Maine voters proved them wrong, standing up for the Golden Rule and for freedom for all Mainers.

“We congratulate Mainers United for Marriage Campaign Director Matt McTighe for the extraordinary effort he has run, as well as all the coalition partners, and particularly Equality Maine and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, for their steadfast commitment to this fight.”

Matt McTighe, Mainers United for Marriage campaign manager, stated this:

“Freedom to Marry has been one of our most indispensable partners in achieving this historic victory. Their skilled messaging and cutting edge new media expertise has been crucial. They’ve been our largest funding partner, raising and investing more than $1.3 million in hard cash through their Win More States Fund. I’ve turned to them for regular guidance and strategic support, and they’ve always delivered. As more states look to build on the momentum of tonight's historic victory in Maine, Freedom to Marry will continue to lead the way in our movement to win marriage for all loving, committed couples across the country.”

Marriage equality referendums in Maryland and Washington state were also leading in preliminary results on Tuesday night. UPDATE: Maryland approved same-sex marriage.

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to (877) 727-5446, ext. 713.