AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Bates College students Tuesday demonstrated at the State House against the Legislature's passage of a same-sex-marriage ban, which Gov. Angus King is allowing to become law without his signature.
About three dozen students held a rally and marched through the Capitol area with placards expressing their outrage.
A leader of the students, Bates junior David Lieber, said King should have followed his conscience and vetoed the bill, even though that would have sent the ban out to referendum.
The governor said Monday he let the bill become law in order to avoid what could have been a divisive referendum campaign. King said he thinks the bill is unconstitutional and will be struck down by the courts.
Lieber said human rights for homosexuals is at issue. He said the students support passage of a bill to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation a violation of Maine's Human Rights Act. A hearing on that bill is scheduled for next Tuesday.
King's statements explaining his action triggered critical responses from the Christian Civic League of Maine and a Democratic legislator.
In his statement, the governor said backers of the ban sought to keep the gay-marriage issue alive ``to sow hate and division at a time when we should be searching for common ground.''
``Your statement demonstrates a political sense that overshadows a respect for Maine people, Christian values and traditional morality,'' said the civic league's Michael Heath. ``I view your words as a significant affront to the majority of the Legislature who voted for the ban, the 62,000 people who signed the petitions, the League and myself.''
Rep. William Lemke, D-Westbrook, said it was divisive for the governor ``to impute dishonorable motives to those who disagree with him.''
King ``should use his office as a bully pulpit, rather than bullying from his pulpit,'' said Lemke.
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