AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Gov. Angus King said Monday he will let the gay-marriage ban enacted by the Maine Legislature last week become law without his signature.
The governor said his decision was not an easy one. He said he has "a deep respect for the institution of marriage and its religious roots.''
But King also said the bill does not remedy a problem because there's no movement in Maine to make same-sex marriages legal, and he does not believe traditional marriage is under assault in Maine.
"I believe that this bill has very little to do with marriage and nothing to do with love,'' said King.
Concerned Maine Families, which led the initiative that forced the legislative vote, said the law protects traditional marriage from threats by militant gay activists.
The governor had three options after the bill was enacted by overwhelming margins last week by the House and Senate: sign the bill, veto it, which would force a referendum, or let it become law without his signature.
King said a referendum would trigger a bitter and divisive statewide campaign that would not benefit the public.
The governor also said he expects the law to be successfully challenged in court. He believes it violates both the equal protection and full faith and credit clauses of the Constitution.
"This bill will briefly become law in Maine, but it will not have my name on it,'' said King.
During last week's debate, several legislators said they opposed the bill on technical and ideological grounds, but would rather have it become law than subject the state to a rancorous campaign. Others cited strong constituent support for the bill as a reason to vote for it.
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