Hours after the Maine state senate approved a marriage equality bill today, Gov. John Baldacci (D) signed the law, making Maine the fifth state to allow legal same-sex marriage. In a statement, Baldacci said he “weighed [his] decision carefully” and “did not come to this decision lightly or in haste.” He realized, he explained, that civil unions were not sufficient:
“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions,” Governor Baldacci said. “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.“
Baldacci also noted that “does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs,” nor does it require churches to perform gay weddings.