A Statement from NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter

(San Francisco, CA, May 6, 2009)—Today, John Baldacci, Governor of Maine, signed a law that ended the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in Maine. The bill sailed through the state’s Senate and House of Representatives with overwhelming support, and made Maine the fifth state to provide full legal equality to same-sex couples.

A statement from Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

“We commend Governor Baldacci, the Maine legislature, and the tremendous efforts of Equality Maine, the Maine Civil Liberties Union, and the Maine Women’s Lobby for ending discrimination against same-sex couples in marriage. As a nation, we are seeing incredible momentum in favor of full legal equality for same-sex couples and their families. Since the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the legal challenge to Proposition 8, three states — Iowa, Vermont, and now Maine — have eliminated discriminatory marriage bans.

Last year, the California Supreme Court issued a groundbreaking marriage equality decision that paved the way for today’s victories. Public opinion has shifted tremendously since the ruling, and now more Americans support marriage equality than ever before. The California Supreme Court is once again in a position to affirm the central role of equal protection in our constitutional democracy and to make clear that minority rights cannot be put up for a vote.

We are hopeful that the California Supreme Court will protect equality and hold that Proposition 8 is invalid, as the California Legislature, the Governor of California, hundreds of civil rights groups, bar associations, religious leaders and organizations, women’s organizations, and leading constitutional scholars have urged to the Court to do.”

The California Supreme Court is expected to rule on the validity of Proposition 8, which altered the California Constitution to eliminate the right to marry for same-sex couples, by June 3, 2009. For more information about NCLR’s Proposition 8 legal challenge, visit www.nclrights.org.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.