Maine’s Governor Downplays National Angle Ahead of Tuesday’s Gay Marriage Vote

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Oct 28, 2009 12:12pm

The state of Maine could make national headlines if gay marriage is upheld on Tuesday. But don’t look for Gov. John Baldacci (D) on a “pedestal” anytime soon. My colleague, ABC News’ Teddy Davis has more: If voters in the state of Maine reject Question 1 in Tuesday’s election, it would be the first time that same-sex marriage was upheld by citizens casting ballots as opposed to by a court order or a vote of the state’s legislature. That’s not, however, the way that Maine Gov. John Baldacci (D), a gay marriage supporter, likes to frame the issue. He prefers a more low-key approach. In an interview with Deborah Solomon’s weekly “Questions For . . . ” column in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, Baldacci downplays the potential national significance of the vote and instead talks about it as a way to help families in Maine. “We’re not focused on it that way; we’re focused on it Maine-specific, why we’re going to be helpful to families in Maine who need to make sure that they have equal protection under the Constitution,” said Baldacci.  Baldacci used to prefer civil unions to same-sex marriage. But he came to believe a civil union is not equal to civil marriage. He signed the gay marriage bill into law in May. Under a “people’s veto” provision in the state constitution, Maine voters will cast ballots on Tuesday on whether to repeal the gay marriage law which was passed by the legislature and signed by Baldacci. Asked if he is thinking about Tuesday’s vote in the context of the national debate over gay rights, Baldacci says: “No. Just thinking about Maine.” Pressed on whether that’s a “small way” to look at it, Baldacci says: “We’re not getting on a pedestal and preaching to others.” When told by Solomon that Maine could become the first state to approve gay marriage by a vote of the people, Baldacci says: “Right. While that may in fact happen, it isn’t because it was designed to happen that way.” The full Q&A, which includes a discussion of his Catholicism as well as his relationship with second cousin David Baldacci, the novelist, will be published Sunday in The New York Times Magazine.

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