Ballot Wording Oversimplifies Marriage Equality, Proponents Warn

BY Lucas Grindley

June 21 2012 5:46 PM ET

The exact wording of the question proposed to Maine voters come November is pretty straightforward — "Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?" — but that's the problem, according to marriage equality proponents.

They say it's critical that voters know no religious institution can be forced to marry same-sex couples.

“The question, as currently drafted, falls short,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage. “It fails to address important parts of the initiative that will be on the ballot in November."

McTighe and others are calling on the secretary of state to revise the question "to more accurately reflect the citizens’ initiative that was signed by more than 105,000 Mainers.” The title of that initiative was "An Act to Allow Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couples and Protect Religious Freedom."

Religious exemptions have regularly been included in marriage equality laws, even in New York. Here's the wording of the Maine proposal that voters so far won't see:

"This chapter does not require any member of the clergy to perform or any church, religious denomination or other religious institution to host any marriage in violation of the religious beliefs of that member of the clergy, church, religious denomination or other religious institution. The refusal to perform or host a marriage under this subsection cannot be the basis for a lawsuit or liability and does not affect the tax-exempt status of the church, religious denomination or other religious institution."

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