Democratic State Senator Dennis Damon of Hancock County is sponsoring a bill to legalize gay and lesbian marriage in Maine. The proposed bill will repeal the Defense of Marriage Act which limits marriage to a man and a woman. Maine law currently states “persons of the same sex may not contract marriage.” The Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition is working with Damon to draft a bill that will allow marriage to occur between two people, regardless of gender. The gay marriage bill is expected to be submitted to the Judiciary Committee by Jan 16, 2009.
Damon’s bill will eliminate discrimination when a gay or lesbian couple applies for a marriage license. When a couple in Maine wishes to be married, the must apply for a marriage license at their local city hall or town office. Focusing on the discrimination aspect of gay marriage will eliminate the possibility of same-sex couples being denied a marriage license in their own hometown. Religious organizations and members of the clergy would have the right to refuse marriage according to their faith.
Since 2004 Maine has allowed gay and straight couples to register as Domestic Partners. Domestic partnerships have some, but not all of the same rights as married couples. According to Maine.gov, domestic partners are given rights regarding “matters of probate, guardianships, conservatorships, inheritance, protection from abuse, and related matters.” Some rights domestic partnerships do not cover are tax breaks, employer insurance, and spousal Social Security and pension benefits. In 2007 Damon sponsored an approved bill that granted domestic partners the right to take a leave of absence from work in times of pregnancy or medical necessity.
State Senator Dennis Damon is a commercial fisherman living in Trenton with his wife Bonnie. Damon’s Senate biography says he has also “worked as a schoolteacher, coach, entrepreneur, and small business owner.” Damon is well liked in Hancock County, winning 4 elections for the State Senate seat. Whether answering phone calls at home or bumping into people at the local gas station, Damon has always lent a sympathetic ear to the issues effecting Mainers. Due to term-limit restrictions, Damon is currently serving his last term in the Maine State Senate.
Contact your local Maine representatives to voice your support or opposition to Damon’s proposed bill that will allow gay couples in Maine to marry. Visit Maine.gov to find your local elected officials.
Senator Dennis Damon at Maine.gov
Maine Domestic Partnership Information
Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition
Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition Press Release
Maine Marriage Amendment
The Bangor Daily News “Maine Gay Marriage Proposed” by Judy Harrison