2009 Maine Question 1

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Maine Question 1 was a voter referendum conducted in Maine in 2009 that rejected a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. The measure passed 53%–47% on November 3, 2009.

The outcome of the referendum was reversed by Maine voters three years later when voters approved Maine Question 1, 2012, which legalized same-sex marriage in the state again.


In January 2009, a bill to allow same-sex couples to legally marry in Maine was introduced in the Maine Legislature.[1][2] On April 30, 2009, the Senate rejected an amendment to put the issue up for a voter referendum 22–13 and passed the bill 21–14.[3][4] On May 5, 2009, the Maine House of Representatives passed the bill 89–57,[5][6][7] and on the following day, Gov. John Baldacci signed the bill into law to take effect 90 days thereafter.[8][9]

Ballot question efforts[edit]

On May 7, 2009, opponents of the law filed the necessary paperwork to launch a campaign to put the law up for a vote in the November elections, giving them until 90 days after the legislature adjourned to collect at least 55,087 valid signatures to put the measure on the ballot.[10] In June 2009, Stand for Marriage Maine, the coalition group leading the veto effort, announced it had hired Schubert Flint Public Affairs, which had worked on the Proposition 8 effort in California, to handle public relations for the veto effort.[11] In July 2009, No on 1/Protect Maine Equality was formed to oppose the veto. On September 2, 2009, the Secretary of State of Maine verified that the opponents had submitted a sufficient number of valid signatures and certified the ballot question for November.[12][13]


Question 1 asked: "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?"

  • A Yes vote takes away the ability of same-sex couples to marry.
  • A No vote keeps the ability of same-sex couples to marry.
Date of opinion poll Conducted by Sample size
(likely voters)
Yes No Undecided Margin of Error
14–16 September 2009[14] Research 2000 600 48% 46% 6% ±4.0%
23–27 September 2009[15] Democracy Corps 800 41% 50% 9% ±3.5%
30 September – 7 October 2009[16] Pan Atlantic 401 42.9% 51.8% 5.3% ±4.9%
16–19 October 2009[17] Public Policy Polling 1130 48% 48% 4% ±2.9%
20–22 October 2009[18] Pan Atlantic 400 42% 53% 4% ±4.9%
26–28 October 2009[19] Research 2000 600 47% 48% 5% ±4.0%
31 October – 1 November 2009[20] Public Policy Polling 1133 51% 47% 2% ±2.9%

Voting results[edit]

The question posed on the ballot was, "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?" A vote of "Yes" would repeal the law, while a vote of "No" would uphold the law.[21] The vote was held on November 3, 2009.

Question 1: People's Veto
An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom
Choice Votes %
Referendum passed Yes 300,848 52.9
No 267,828 47.1
Total votes 568,676 100.00


Just after midnight on election night, consultant Frank Schubert of Stand for Marriage Maine declared, "The institution of marriage has been protected in Maine and across this nation."[22] The No on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign conceded defeat two hours later.[23] Supporters of same-sex marriage pledged to continue the fight, while opponents said they would work to introduce a constitutional amendment to keep marriage between one man and one woman.[24]

A legal battle continued as the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices attempts to force the National Organization for Marriage to respond to subpoenas for the names of its donors in connection with the referendum. The Commission has won consistently in both state and federal courts, most recently on May 29, 2013.[25] On August 4, 2015, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court denied an attempt by the National Organization for Marriage for a stay on releasing the list while its case against a prior Ethics Commission ruling was pending.[26] On August 24, the Donors list was released.[26] Donations were as follows:

Contributor Total Contribution
Sean Fieler $1,250,000
John Templeton $300,000
Terry Caster $300,000
Knights of Columbus $140,000
Richard Kurtz $50,000
Benjamin Brown $200
Unitemized (less than $100 each) $5,279

See also[edit]

Other same-sex marriage referendums[edit]


  1. ^ Bill would allow same-sex marriage in Maine Archived 2012-02-20 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Battle over gay marriage shifts to Maine
  3. ^ State Senate backs gay-marriage bill
  4. ^ Maine Senate Backs Same-Sex Marriage
  5. ^ Maine House Votes To Pass Gay Marriage Bill
  6. ^ Maine House passes gay marriage bill
  7. ^ Maine takes step toward approving gay marriage
  8. ^ Yvonne Abraham (2009-05-06). "Gay marriage law signed in Maine, advances in N.H". Boston.com. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  9. ^ Governor Signs LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom
  10. ^ "People's Veto Drive Initiated". Wabi.tv. 2009-05-08. Archived from the original on 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  11. ^ "Maine gay marriage foes hire Calif. Prop 8 firm". Guardian. 2009-06-18. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  12. ^ Gay marriage repeal on ballot
  13. ^ People's Veto of Bill to Allow Same-sex Marriage Certified by Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap for November Ballot
  14. ^ ME-Init: Gay marriage all tied up, heading into November
  15. ^ Democracy Corps - Maine
  16. ^ "Poll: 51.8% plan to vote no on question 1 | Maine News Updates". Updates.pressherald.mainetoday.com. Archived from the original on 2009-10-16. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  17. ^ Maine split on gay marriage question
  18. ^ Swanson, Emily (2009-10-26). "Political Surveys and Election Polls, Trends, Charts and Analysis". Pollster.com. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  19. ^ ME-Init: Still tied
  20. ^ TABOR Going Down, Gay Marriage Still Close
  21. ^ "Question ready for petition against gay marriage". Updates.mainetoday.com. Archived from the original on 2009-05-30. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  22. ^ "Same-sex marriage supporters concede defeat". Updates.pressherald.mainetoday.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  23. ^ "Fight goes on over marriage". Pressherald.com. 2010-03-04. Archived from the original on 2011-08-07. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  24. ^ Backers of same-sex marriage pledge to keep up Maine fight
  25. ^ Long, Robert (May 30, 2013). "Maine high court rejects appeal to shield names of donors to campaign against gay marriage". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  26. ^ a b Cousins, Christopher (August 24, 2015). "National Organization for Marriage files 2009 donors list". Maine Sun Journal. Retrieved August 24, 2015.

External links[edit]