Concerns Voiced on Maine Gay Marriage Wording
PORTLAND, Maine - The proposed wording of a ballot question asking Maine voters if they want to legalize same-sex marriage is inaccurate and misleading, gay marriage supporters said Wednesday.
Maine’s secretary of state announced last week that the proposed wording for the November referendum reads, ’’Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?’’
The question should also include wording about how clergy, churches, and other religious institutions will not be required to perform or host same-sex marriages if Maine voters approve the measure, said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, a coalition in support of the proposal.
The wording, he said, should reflect the title of the proposed law, which reads, ’’An Act To Allow Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couples and Protect Religious Freedom.’’
’’The one-part question proposed by the secretary of state falls short, is inaccurate, and would create an opportunity for distortion and confusion by voters in November,’’ McTighe said at a press conference.
Opposition groups disagree. Protect Marriage Maine, a political action committee that opposes the referendum, is pleased with the simplicity of the question, said Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine and a member of the PAC.
Conley said he would prefer that the ballot question asked whether Mainers favor ’’changing the existing law to redefine marriage,’’ but he said it is misleading to include wording about religious exemptions.
Under current law, clergy and churches are not required to perform marriages for whatever reason, he said. The proposed law will not protect town officials, florists, photographers, caterers, and others who refuse to participate in a same-sex marriage, he said.
’’Someone may say this protects religious rights and not realize how restrictive it is,’’ Conley said. ’’But it doesn’t refer to all the other ramifications. That’s why we think it’s best to not have it in there at all.’’