AUGUSTA, ME—The Maine State Senate voted today on a bill that would allow the state to create legal same-sex marriages. The bill, LD 1020 was passed by the Senate 20 votes to 15.
The joint judiciary committee of the Legislature had approved a bill to allow same-sex marriage in the state on tuesday, setting the stage for the House and Senate to vote. Eleven of the 14 committee members voted in favor of the bill, two voted against it and one proposed letting voters decide the matter in a referendum.
The bill now awaits the vote of the Maine House of Representatives. Maine currently provides same-sex couples with access to limited rights and benefits through a domestic partner registry.
Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, has not said whether he will sign the bill. The New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a same-sex marriage bill last month, and the Senate is scheduled to take it up Wednesday.
The vote in Maine comes on the heels of a new CBS/New York Times poll released Tuesday that shows that support for marriage equality across the country has risen nine points in the last month. The poll, conducted April 22-26, 2009, shows that 42% of Americans now say that same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry. That number is up nine points from the month earlier when only 33% support marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Four states have recognized marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont (effective September 2009). The New Hampshire Senate passed marriage equality bill earlier this week. New York is also considering legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry under state law.