Christian Civic League can join state in defending referendum on gay rights
The Maine Christian Civic League can join state in defending an upcoming referendum on gay rights, a judge ruled Monday.
Gay rights supporters filed a lawsuit two weeks ago arguing Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky lacks the authority to call a referendum. The suit asks the court to overturn Gwadosky's approval of the referendum.
Gwadosky declared Oct. 20 that enough petition signatures had been gathered to hold the referendum. The petition drive's sponsors, the Christian Coalition of Maine and the Christian Civic League of Maine, want voters to overturn the state gay rights law approved last spring.
Michael F. Phillips Jr., an attorney for the league, said he expected the state to do well in defending Gwadosky's decision to authorize the referendum. But as one of the groups that circulated the petitions, he said the league would better be able to defend them.
In court Monday, gay rights advocates argued the referendum should be cancelled because of 26 different flaws in the petitions filed.
Both the petitions' sponsors and Gwadosky's staff reviewed the petitions for mistakes that would invalidate signatures. Of the 65,256 signatures filed by the Civic League and Christian Coalition, state workers disqualified 7,074, leaving 58,131 valid names.
But the gay rights coalition Maine Won't Discriminate says Gwadosky's staff let flawed signatures pass.
The lawsuit seeks to demonstrate that. In a 90-page document filed with the court, referendum opponents describe the error in each of the 15,000-odd signatures that they claim are flawed and therefore invalid.
Such errors include signatures without dates, improperly notarized signatures, signatures without the street address of the signer, duplicate signatures and altered signatures.
Gay rights advocates also say Gwadosky improperly approved signatures that were collected before the Legislature adjourned for the season. Advocates say no signatures should have been collected until after the adjournment, but Gwadosky has disagreed.
The Maine GayNet Archive