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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington will decide on November 6 whether to recognize same-sex marriage, potentially marking the first time such marriages are legalized by popular vote.
Maine will give the issue a second vote in three years, after rejecting same-sex marriage in a referendum in 2009 by 53 to 47 percent. In Washington and Maryland, where the state legislatures passed laws expanding marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples earlier this year, citizens will vote on whether to let the laws stand.
Meanwhile, defenders of traditional marriage hope Minnesota will become the latest state to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman - effectively banning same-sex marriages.
The following is the text of the ballot initiatives under consideration, according to the Secretaries of State of Maine, Minnesota and Washington, and Maryland's Board of Elections:
Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?
Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?
Establishes that Maryland's civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.
The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic-partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.
This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.
Should this bill be: Approved (OR) Rejected
Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Jackie Frank