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Maine Offers Legal Marriage
by Demian
© March 18, 2013, Demian

Maine finally allowed marriage equality for same-sex partners on 2012.

On May 6, 2009, Maine became the 6th American state to offer full, legal marriage to same-sex couples. This is the 2nd U.S. state, after Vermont, to offer legal marriage without a court order, as well as having the governor sign it into being. The law was to become effective mid-September 2009.

However, with a mean-spirited, anti-gay, anti-marriage “Question 1” referendum, voters in November 2009 repealed Maine’s equal marriage law by only a 52-47 margin (with 87 percent of precincts reporting).

On November 6, 2012, not only the state of Maine, but Washington and Maryland won marriage equality through voter elections.

License Procedures
Legal Marriage Rights and Responsibilities
Warnings: Marriage Law Pitfalls
Links to Official State Instructions


On April 22, 2009, Sen. Dennis Damon received a roar of approval at a crowded hearing when he said the time had come to recognize same-sex marriages. His proposal, Bill LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom, he said “recognizes the worth of every man and woman among us.” It was was backed by 60 co-sponsors.

On April 28, 2009, 11 of the 14 Judiciary Committee members voted to pass the bill, while two voted against it and one proposed sending it to voters in a November referendum.

On April 30, 2009, the Maine Senate voted 20-15 in favor of LD 1020.

On May 5, 2009, the Maine House of Representatives voted 89-57, after which the bill was sent to the governor.

Governor John E. Baldacci (Democrat):

“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions. I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.

“Article I in the Maine Constitution states that ‘no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of that person’s civil rights or be discriminated against.’

“This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs. It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of Church and State.

“It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine’s civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government.”

On May 6, 2009, Governor John E. Baldacci signed the bill into law.

The law becomes effective mid-September 2009. Maine became the 6th U.S. state to offer full, legal marriage to same-sex couples.

The bill’s relatively smooth passage through the legislature followed years of outreach and education that introduced voters and legislators to same-sex families and explained the importance of marriage to gay couples and their children. Ongoing efforts toward marriage equality were primarily provided by EqualityMaine, the Maine Civil Liberties Union, the Maine Women’s Lobby, and GLAD. Support was also provided by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund [After October 2014, the NGLTF became known as the National LGBTQ Task Force.].

By May 9, 2009, conservative groups, led by the Maine Family Policy Council, pledged to bring the measure to a statewide vote, and hope to collect 55,000 registered voter signatures by August to remove the equality marriage law on the next November ballot. Marriage opponents hired for consultations the California firm, Schubert Flint Public Affairs, that led the successful Prop 8 proposal which overturned same-sex marriage in that state. The Flint campaign was notable for its smear tactics and lies regarding the same-sex families, and the actual intent of the marriage law.

In early May 2009, supporters of Maine’s new marriage law formed a new political action committee, Maine Freedom to Marry, and hired Jesse Connolly, who takes a leave of absence as the House speaker’s chief of staff. He led the successful 2005 campaign to retain the state’s gay rights law.

License Procedures


  • Two individuals.
  • 18 or older.
  • If younger than 18, written parental consent is required.
  • If younger than 16, written parental and a judge’s consent are required.
  • Provide social security numbers.
  • Provide a photo ID, such as a driver’s license.
  • Provide your parent’s full names, and mother’s maiden name
  • Provide the states in which you were born.
  • If previously married, bring a certified copy (raised seal) of the divorce from or death certificate of the last spouse.
  • $20 license fee.
  • Certified copy of marriage certificate (after marriage is solemnized) costs $7 at the municipal office level and $3 for additional copies ordered at the same time - or $10 at the state level and $4 for additional copies ordered at the same time.
  • Some municipalities may have further requirements. Check with the municipal clerk to verify policies.
  • Licenses are issued by towns and cities.
  • Both parties must personally apply for the marriage license.
  • If both parties are Maine residents, apply at the town office where at least one of you is a resident.
  • If residents of different Maine towns, both may apply in one town or the other.
  • If one is from out of state, then both apply in the town where one holds residency.
  • If neither is a Maine resident, then application may be in any Maine town office. The Wedding may take place anywhere in Maine.
  • The marriage license is valid for 90 days and must be used within Maine.
  • The officiant is responsible for filing the marriage certificate with the town office that issued the license.
  • Officiants may be “ordained ministers of the gospel,” a person licensed to preach by an association of ministers, religious seminary or ecclesiastical body, judges or justices (Maine residents only), lawyers admitted to the Maine Bar (Maine residents only), or Maine Notaries.
  • No blood test required.
  • No wait period (from the time the marriage license is issued until the wedding takes place).
  • Maine does not have Justices of the Peace.
  • Out-of-state Notaries and Justices of the Peace cannot officiate weddings in Maine.
  • First cousins may marry in Maine, provided they present the municipal clerk with a certificate of genetic counseling from a physician.
Maine County Clerk’s Offices:
Auburn City Offices - 207-786-2421
Augusta City Clerk - 207-626-2310
Bangor City Clerk - 207-945-4400
Bath City Clerk - 207-443-8332
Belfast City Clerk - 207-338-3370
Ellsworth City Clerk - 207-667-2563
Farmington Town Clerk - 207-778-6539
Fort Kent Town Office - 207-834-3090
Houlton Town Administration - 207-532-7111
Machias Town Clerk - 207-255-8683
Paris Town Clerk - 207-734-2501
Portland City Clerk - 207-847-8300
Rockland City Clerk - 207-594-0304
Skowhegan Town Clerk - 207-474-6902
Wiscasset Town Clerk - 207-882-8205


A person seeking a divorce may file a complaint for divorce in the District Court if:

  1. The plaintiff has resided in good faith in Maine for 6 months prior to the commencement of the action;
  2. The plaintiff is a Maine resident and the parties were married in Maine;
  3. The plaintiff is a Maine resident and the parties resided in Maine when the cause of divorce accrued; or
  4. The defendant is a Maine resident. The divorce may be filed in either county in which the parties reside.
The Dissolution of Marriage is typically filed within the county in which the filing spouse lives.

The right to file a complaint or bring a petition may not be denied a person for failure to meet a residency requirement if the person is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States on active duty stationed in Maine or the spouse of that member or a parent of a child of that member. The member is deemed to be a resident either of the county in which the military installation, or other place at which the member has been stationed, is located or of the county in which the member has sojourned.

Legal Marriage Rights and Responsibilities

Sample Rights

  • Emergency medical care and hospital visitation
  • Economic protections upon death of a spouse, such as inheritance rights
  • Burial, autopsies, and disposition of remains
  • Wrongful death and other kinds of claims that depend upon spousal status
  • Receive workers’ compensation benefits if a spouse dies in the workplace
  • Health insurance and pension benefits for spouses of public employees
  • May file joint state tax returns, take spousal deductions on state income taxes, and receive tax benefits when transferring interests in property
  • Separation, divorce, and caring for any children of the couple
  • Liability for your spouse’s debts
  • Limitations on your ability to make decisions about your property and who will inherit from you
  • Obligations to provide support for your spouse during both marriage and divorce
Warnings: Marriage Law Pitfalls


The armed services would likely consider marriage to a same-sex spouse as grounds for a discharge under its discriminatory policies towards lesbian and gay personnel.


Since the federal system does not recognize same-sex couples, or their legal marriages, getting married does not offer a route to applying for immigration.

There currently is no process that allows a same-sex partner to sponsor a partner for immigration to the U.S. There is no process that allows an individual to sponsor their same-sex partner to become a "Permanent Legal Resident." In the eyes of the American federal system, same-sex couples are legal strangers.

Non-Maine Residents

Partners who are not Maine citizens may be married in Maine.

However, because many state laws forbid recognition of another state’s same-sex legal marriage license, a civil marriage license would have little or no legal meaning.

Also, it is possible that a Maine couple would get married, then move elsewhere. While it is certain that the federal system will refuse to recognize the license, it is now known that most states will likewise refuse to recognize it.

In the Event of a Couple Parting

Maine divorce requires a 6 month residency.

If you live in a state that does not honor your marriage — which may not be determined until requesting something usually triggered by a marriage license — the state courts will also be unlikely to grant you a divorce.

The ability to divorce is critical. Besides the emotional reasons to dissolve a no longer functioning union, there are legal entanglements to consider. For instance, should one of the partners form a new relationship, they would not be able to sign up their new partner for workplace benefits. Most employers require an affidavit that stipulates that the partners are not married to anyone else, or have another domestic partner.

Links to Official State Instructions

        Getting Married in Maine

        Local Government - to locate local town and city information regarding getting a license

Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage

Netherlands (2001)
Belgium (2003)
Canada (2005)
Spain (2005)
South Africa (2005)
Norway (2009)
Sweden (2009)
Iceland (2010)
Argentina (2010)
Portugal (2010)
Denmark (2012)
France (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
Brazil (2013)
Uruguay (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
United Kingdom
(England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
Luxembourg (2014)
Finland (2014)
Ireland (2015)
United States (2015)
Colombia (2016)
Germany (2017)
Taiwan (2017)
Malta (2017)
Australia (2017)
US States & Territories
U.S. Supreme Court, June 26, 2015 Ruling: All U.S. States must allow same-sex couples legal marriage.

Massachusetts (2004)
California (2008)
Connecticut (2008)
Iowa (2009)
Vermont (2009)
New Hampshire (2009)
District of Columbia (2009)
New York (2011)
Maine (2012)
Washington (2012)
Maryland (2013)
Rhode Island (2013)
Delaware (2013)
Minnesota (2013)
Illinois (2013)
Utah (2013)
New Jersey (2013)

Hawaii (2013)
New Mexico (2013)
Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Oregon (2014)
Wisconsin (2014) Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Pennsylvania (2014)
Indiana (2014)
Nevada (2014)
Virginia (2014)
Oklahoma (2014)
Idaho (2014)
West Virginia (2014)
Alaska (2014)
Arizona (2014)
Wyoming (2014)
Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Florida (2014)
Colorado (2014)
North Carolina (2014)
South Carolina (2014)
Montana (2014)
Alabama (2015)
Native American Tribes

Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan (2014)
Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)

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