Maine Notaries Required to Marry Same-Sex Couples
Notaries in the state of Maine who can officiate weddings have been warned that they cannot discriminate against same-sex couples who want to to tie the knot, Think Progress reports.
Notaries who do turn down same-sex couples will be violating the Maine Human Rights Act, which protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Maine Secretary of State recently sent an email and explained that the new gay marriage law will go into effect by the end of the month and does not exempt the state's 25,000 notaries the way it does religious clergy.
"If you are a Notary Public who performs marriages and you refuse to perform a marriage for a couple due to a person's race, color, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, creed, age, ancestry or national origin, you may be subject to a claim of discrimination," Cathy Beaudoin, who is in charge of licensing notaries in the state, wrote. "The new law authorizing same-sex marriage does not provide any exemption from liability for Maine Notaries who refuse to perform marriages for same-sex couples."
On Dec. 29, same-sex couples will be able to legally marry in the Pine Tree State, after Gov. Paul LePage signed off on the certified election results on Nov. 29, as the Associated Press and others reported. On Nov. 6 voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approved laws that legalized gay marriage.
When the National Organization for Marriage, a group that wants to ban marriage equality from the country, reported the story on its official blog, it noted that some Notaries resigned after Maine voters approved the marriage equality law. When the ultra-conservative website Life Site News reported the story, readers reacted with outrage.
As one reader wrote, "Where is their accommodation of dissenting notaries? Their talk is now of punishment of all disagreement with their ever-expanding agenda. The next step will be the demand to criminalize any and all disagreement. Freedom of expression will no longer exist."