Supporters of the marriage law, which the Legislature approved in May, have far more money and ground troops than opponents, who have been led by the Roman Catholic Church. Yet most polls show the two sides neck and neck, suggesting that gay couples here, as in California last year, could lose the right to marry just six months after they gained it.
Although Maine’s population is a tiny fraction of California’s and the battle here has been comparatively low profile, it comes at a crucial point in the same-sex marriage movement. Still reeling from last year’s defeat in California, gay-rights advocates say a defeat here could further a perception that only judges and politicians embrace same-sex marriage.
If Maine’s law is upheld, however, it would be the movement’s first victory at the ballot box; voters in about 30 states have banned same-sex marriage.
Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont allow gay couples to marry, but courts and legislatures, not voters, made it possible.
“It’s a defining moment,” said Marc Mutty, chairman of Stand for Marriage Maine, which is leading the repeal effort. “What happens here in Maine is going to have a mushrooming effect on the issue at large.”