by Peter D. Lowe
On Tuesday, 53 percent of Mainers voted to allow same-sex marriage. Question 1, which asked “Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” was an indirect initiative. That means that because supporters collected the required number of signatures by January 2012 and the Maine Legislature failed to pass the bill in the first half of the year, the question was put up for a popular vote. Significantly, the referendum reverses the position that Mainers took in 2009 in a similar referendum and marks the first time in U.S. history that same-sex marriage has been enacted by popular vote.
Maine should see the effects of the vote very early next year. The secretary of state has 20 days to approve election results before sending them along to the governor, who must certify them within 10 days. The law goes into effect 30 days after being certified—likely sometime in January 2013. Be on the lookout for an article discussing how this could affect your workplace in the next issue of Maine Employment Law Letter.