Less than an hour after the Maine Senate gave final approval to a marriage equality bill, Democratic Governor John Balducci on May 6 signed the legislation into law. A day earlier, the House of Representatives had given approval to the measure, by a vote of 89-57, passed in preliminary form, by the Senate last week. The final Senate vote this week was 21-13.
In a written statement Balducci said, “In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions. I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.”
Baldacci becomes the first governor in the nation to sign a marriage equality law not mandated by a court. Earlier this year, Connecticut’s Republican governor, Jodi Rell, signed a measure passed by the Legislature there to conform the state’s laws to its high court marriage equality ruling last year. Republican Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Jim Douglas of Vermont vetoed similar measures, though Douglas’ action was overridden.