2012 Maine Question 1

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Question 1: Citizen Initiative
An Act to Allow Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couples and Protect Religious Freedom
Votes %
Yes 370,770 52.60%
No 334,049 47.40%
Valid votes 704,819 97.65%
Invalid or blank votes 16,972 2.35%
Total votes 721,791 100.00%
Results by county
Maine marriage question 2012.svg
Source: Maine 2012 General Election Results - BDN Maine, Tabulation of Votes

Maine Question 1 was a voter referendum on an initiated state statute that occurred November 6, 2012. The title of the citizen initiative is "An Act to Allow Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couples and Protect Religious Freedom". The question that appeared on the ballot was: "Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?"

The law took effect on December 29, 2012.[1]


In 2009, same-sex marriage legalization, "An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom", was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor John Baldacci. A 2009 people's veto referendum to reject the law passed 53 to 47 percent, invalidating the law before it took effect.

On June 30, 2011, EqualityMaine and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) announced plans to place a voter initiative in support of same-sex marriage on Maine's November 2012 ballot.[2] Supporters delivered more than 105,000 petition signatures for the initiative to the Secretary of State's office on January 26, 2012, exceeding the minimum of 57,277 signatures requirement.[3][4] The Secretary of State announced on February 23 that the office verified 85,216 signatures, qualifying the initiative for the November 2012 ballot.[5]

Under Maine's constitution a valid initiative must be sent to the voters unless enacted in the proposed form by the Legislature at the same session during which it was presented. In March 2012, the Maine Legislature voted to indefinitely postpone the initiative without debate, effectively putting it on the November ballot.[6][7][8]

Ballot question[edit]

On June 14, 2012, Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers, who opposed same-sex marriage,[9] released the draft wording of the question as it would appear on the ballot, beginning a 30-day public comment period, at the end of which he had ten days to determine the wording of the question.[10] He proposed the following wording:

Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?

The petitions that supporters circulated was as follows:[11]

Do you favor a law allowing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, and that protects religious freedom by ensuring that no religion or clergy be required to perform such a marriage in violation of their religious beliefs?

Opponents of the initiative claimed that latter part of the circulated question is unnecessary, as the religious freedom to refuse to perform same-sex marriages is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. They also criticized the wording for failing to mention redefining marriage. Supporters of the initiative said the Secretary of State's proposed wording "fails to address important parts of the initiative that will be on the ballot in November". Though they concede the First Amendment point made by the measure's opponents, they asked Summers, whose good faith they did not question,[9] to restore the reference to protecting religious freedom because they claim opponents "distort the facts around what the approval of same-sex marriage will do, including the possibility that churches would lose their tax-exempt status by refusing to perform same-sex marriages."[9]

The final wording Summers chose is "Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?" Representatives of both sides of the issue stated they had no major problems with Summers' decision.[12]


EqualityMaine and Mainers United for Marriage began the campaign for the initiative on May 15, 2012.[13]

By June 28, Mainers United for Marriage had raised over $1 million, and 64 percent of those contributions had come from within Maine.[14]

On July 23, the Maine ACLU and Mainers United for Marriage held a press conference to announce the formation of the group Republicans United for Marriage as part of an effort to attract more Republican support of the initiative. Fifteen Republicans appeared at the conference, including three current state legislators. One of those, Rep. Stacey Fitts of Pittsfield, had voted against the 2009 same-sex marriage law passed by the previous Legislature but stated that he has now changed his mind after discussions with gay persons that he knows and his family. Fitts also said he felt his new views were a "perfect match" with his Republican philosophy of small government.[15] Pastor Bob Emerich, a spokesman for initiative opponents, dismissed the announcement as "insignificant" and questioned "why these people even call themselves Republicans."[16]

President Barack Obama, through a spokesperson, endorsed the initiative on October 24.[17]

Richard Malone, former Catholic Bishop of Portland, stated on October 25 that supporting the initiative was "unfaithful to Catholic doctrine" and that Catholics whose conscience was formed through scripture could not justify voting for any candidate or referendum that opposes the teachings of the Church. He said that Catholics for Marriage Equality did not speak for the Catholic Church.[18]

Democratic U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud both stated they intended to vote in favor of the referendum, while Republican U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe both stated that their policy was to not comment on state level issues. Governor Paul LePage, through his spokeswoman, also declined to offer his views on the referendum.[19] Collins and Snowe would both state their support for same-sex marriage after the referendum.[20][21]

The referendum was declared passed on November 6, 2012 by the Associated Press, and opposition group Protect Marriage Maine conceded at 1:30 am on November 7, 2012.[22] 53% of Maine voted in favor.


Date of opinion poll Conducted by Sample size
(likely voters)
Yes No Undecided Margin of Error
October 28–31, 2011[23] Public Policy Polling 673 48% 35% 17% ±3.8%
March 2–4, 2012[24] Public Policy Polling 1,256 47% 32% 21% ±2.8%
June 13–14, 2012[25][26] MassINC Polling Group 506 55% 36% 9% ±4.4%
June 20–25, 2012[27] Critical Insights 615 57% 35% 8% ±4%
September 12–16, 2012[28] Critical Insights 618 57% 36% 7% ±4%
September 15–17, 2012[29][30] Maine People's Resource Center 856 53% 43% 4% ±3.35%
September 17–18, 2012[31] Public Policy Polling 804 52% 44% 4% ±3.5%
September 24–28, 2012[32] Pan Atlantic SMS Group 400 56.6% 39% 4.5% ±4.9%
October 30–31, 2012[33][34] Critical Insights 613 55% 42% 3% ±4%
November 1–2, 2012[35] Public Policy Polling 1633 52% 45% 3% ±2.4%
November 1–3, 2012[36] Maine People's Resource Center 905 50.5% 46.5% 2.9% ±3.26%


Breakdown of voting by county
County Yes Votes No Votes
Androscoggin 44.60% 24,052 55.4% 28,598
Aroostook 33.16% 11,181 66.84% 22,562
Cumberland 65.12% 105,415 34.88% 56,865
Franklin 46.65% 7,639 53.35% 8,702
Hancock 56.91% 17,254 43.09% 13,149
Kennebec 48.75% 30,780 51.25% 32,372
Knox 55.13% 12,129 44.87% 9,876
Lincoln 51.86% 10,661 48.14% 9,849
Oxford 45.89% 13,358 54.11% 15,810
Penobscot 46.91% 36,062 53.09% 40,865
Piscataquis 37.41% 3,347 62.59% 5,600
Sagadahoc 54.63% 11,309 45.37% 9,330
Somerset 40.28% 9,934 59.72% 14,767
Waldo 51.25% 10,724 48.75% 10,212
Washington 40.90% 6,512 59.1% 9,240
York 56.63% 60,413 43.37% 46,252
Total 52.60% 370,770 47.40% 334,049

See also[edit]

Other same-sex marriage referendums[edit]


  1. ^ Gay marriage law goes into effect in Maine
  2. ^ Sharp, David (June 30, 2011). "Gay marriage supporters aiming for 2012 referendum". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved February 25, 2012.
  3. ^ Steve Mistler (January 26, 2012). "It's on: Same-sex marriage supporters give it another try". Lewiston Sun Journal.
  4. ^ Adams, Glenn (January 26, 2012). "Maine poised for 2nd public vote on gay marriage". Times-Union. Associated Press.
  5. ^ Harrison, Judy (February 23, 2012). "Secretary of state says same-sex marriage will be on the ballot". Bangor Daily News.
  6. ^ "Maine Same-Sex Marriage Bill Step Closer To Voters". WMTV. March 13, 2012. Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  7. ^ Cover, Susan M. (March 13, 2012). "Same-sex marriage closer to November ballot". Morning Sentinel.
  8. ^ Senate sends gay marriage question to Maine voters
  9. ^ a b c "Supporters want a wordier same-sex marriage question on November's ballot". June 20, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  10. ^ "Draft of Maine same-sex marriage question released". June 14, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  11. ^ Russell, Eric (August 17, 2011). "Signature-gathering campaign to begin on Maine same-sex marriage initiative". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved February 25, 2012.
  12. ^ Harrison, Judy (July 26, 2012). "Final wording of same-sex marriage question issued". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  13. ^ Harrison, Judy (May 15, 2012). "Same-sex marriage supporters kick off Maine campaign by going door to door". Bangor Daily News.
  14. ^ "Same-sex marriage supporters say they've raised $1 million". June 28, 2012. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  15. ^ "Same-sex marriage advocates introduce Republican supporters". July 23, 2012. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  16. ^ "Marriage equality group unveils Republican supporters". July 23, 2012. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  17. ^ Stone, Matthew (October 25, 2012). "Obama backs Maine's same-sex marriage measure". Bangor Daily News. Archived from the original on October 28, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  18. ^ "Former Maine bishop says voting for gay marriage 'unfaithful to Catholic doctrine'". October 25, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  19. ^ "Most Maine top elected officials steer clear of gay-marriage issue". Kennebec Journal. November 5, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
  20. ^ Lisa Desjardins (April 5, 2013). "Now out of Senate, Snowe supports same-sex marriage". CNN. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  21. ^ "Susan Collins: I support same-sex marriage". June 25, 2014.
  22. ^ Cover, Susan (November 7, 2012). "Mainers vote to legalize same-sex marriage". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  23. ^ Maine Question 1 narrowly leads; voters want gay marriage
  24. ^ Maine Has Voters Remorse on Governor LePage
  25. ^ WBUR Poll: Angus King Heavy Favorite To Replace Sen. Snowe
  26. ^ WBUR Maine 2012 Poll
  27. ^ Support remains in state for legal same-sex marriage, survey shows
  28. ^ Poll: King support drops, but he still holds big lead; Obama widens gap
  29. ^ Maine People's Resource Center - Public Opinion Survey
  30. ^ New poll shows 53% support same-sex marriage
  31. ^ Maine narrowly favors gay marriage legalization
  32. ^ Newest poll shows King with 26-point lead in Senate race
  33. ^ Poll: Romney slicing into Obama's lead in Maine
  34. ^ Romney, gay marriage opponents make up ground in poll of Maine voters Archived November 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ Obama, King, gay marriage favored in Maine

External links[edit]