‘People’s veto’ looms despite passage of gay marriage in Maine
Posted on May 8, 2009
Filed Under Uncategorized
Mary Breen, of South Berwick, Maine, is counting down the days until she and her partner can be married, now that Gov. John Baldacci has signed into law the state’s gay marriage bill.
“It’s a proud day to live in Maine,” she said after the signing. The moment the law goes into effect, she said, “We’ll be getting married.”
Exactly when that day will be depends on how quickly opponents can mount a petition campaign to force a citizen’s veto of the law, said Julie Flynn, deputy secretary of state for the Bureau of Corporation, Elections and Commissions.
Unlike New Hampshire, Maine has a mechanism to overturn a law called the “people’s veto.” Opponents must gather signatures of registered voters equal to 10 percent of those who voted in the last gubernatorial election. If verified, the veto measure is put on the next statewide ballot, with voters either upholding or repealing the law.
The secretary of state received an application for a people’s veto on Thursday, Flynn said. The office has 10 business days to write a legal ballot question and return it to the applicant.
The coalition of opponents, including the Catholic diocese of Portland and the Maine Jeremiah Project, must collect 55,087 valid signatures, but in practice need to get more than that in case signatures are disqualified.
For all practical purposes, said Flynn, opponents need to collect those signatures by mid-August to get on the November ballot, because they must be certified by town or city clerks first, then by the secretary of state — all by Sept. 4. That leaves 60 days before the Nov. 4 election, time enough for ballots to be printed and to allow for absentee voting.
Last year, opponents of a beverage tax were successful in garnering enough signatures for November and were ultimately successful in overturning the law. However, said Flynn, there was also a statewide election in June last year when organizers could gather signatures. There isn’t one in this off-election year.
“There’s always the county fairs and that sort of thing, but for this to be done, there’s going to have to be an organized effort,” she said.
Meanwhile, the bill itself is going on its own legal track. It will become law 91 days after the Legislature recesses, which is set for June 17 but could be earlier or later. That means the law would likely take effect Sept. 16. However, if the petitions are submitted to the secretary of state any time before Sept. 16, the law would be stayed from going into effect, Flynn said.See ‘People’s veto’ looms despite passage of gay marriage in Maine York Weekly * Tags = gay men gay news lesbian news transgender bisexual
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