Making Democracy Work

Equality in Marriage

Equality in Marriage Concurrence

Equality in Marriage Basics

In light of the increasingly controversial public debate about marriage between same-sex partners, and considering legislation pending before the Maine State Legislature this session, the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of Maine undertook a concurrence project to assess whether there is member agreement that the League should support or oppose same-sex marriage in Maine. The concurrence project began in January, 2009 and concluded in April 2009.

Background

Presently, LWVUS does not have a clear position on equality in marriage. The LWVUS position on Equality of Opportunity stipulates that

The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the federal government shares with other levels of government the responsiblity to provide equality of opportunity for education, employment and housing for all persons in the United State regardless of their race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation or disability.

It is not clear that this position covers equality in marriage or that our members understand it to do so.

However, the League of Women Voters of Maryland has conducted a study and adopted a position on equality in marriage. In order for LWVME to participate and advocate on this issue, in January 2009, LWVME's State Board initiated the process of determining whether it could come to concurrence with the position of its sister League in Maryland.

The Board assembled and distributed materials to the local Leagues to facilitate a discussion among members on the local level to determine whether there is a consensus in agreement with or opposition to Maryland's position. The League commissioned a memo on Maine marriage law authored by Michael J. Levey, Esq., Levey and Wagley, PA, Attorneys at Law; and Jennifer B. Wriggins, Esq., Professor, University of Maine School of Law.

Local Leagues met in Portland, Brunswick and Ellsworth in March and April to discuss the position previously adopted by the League of Women Voters of Maryland. Based on the recommendations of the three local Leagues, the state League issued the final position.

LWVME Support Equality in Marriage

Here is the full text of the position on Equality of Opportunity (Civil Marriage) adopted by the League of Women Voters of Maine, April 27, 2009.

The League of Women Voters of Maine supports equal rights for all under Maine law. LWVME supports legislation to equalize the legal rights and benefits available to same-sex couples with those available to heterosexual couples. LWVME supports legislation to permit same-sex couples to marry. The League believes that the civil status of marriage should be clearly distinguished from the religious institution of marriage and that religious rights should be preserved. LWVME believes that Maine should recognize the civil unions and same-sex marriages of other states."

Learn More

If this subject interests you, please join in the conversation and participate in the process. Call 622-2056 or e-mail lwvme@gwi.net to get involved.

Here's where to learn more:

Memo to LWVME regarding Same-sex Marriage and Maine Law from Michael J. Levey, Esq., Levey and Wagley, PA, Attorneys at Law; and Jennifer B. Wriggins, Esq., Professor, University of Maine School of Law

League of Women Voters of Maine Concurrence Questions

LWV Maryland Position on Equality of Opportunity (Civil Marriage)

LWV Maryland Benefits and Burdens of Marriage Under Maryland Law: An Equal Opportunity Study (includes the consensus questions)

New York Times article Suit Seeks to Force Government to Extend Benefits to Same Sex Couples

New York Times article What Gay Unions Don't Guarantee