Maine Governor Inks Domestic Partner Bill

April 29, 2004 ( - Maine Governor John Baldacci on Wednesday signed a bill creating domestic partnerships in the state and extending domestic partnership rights to heterosexual or gay adults who live together under long-term arrangements.

With the measure, which takes effect three months from now, Baldacci said the state is proving its commitment to personal rights, the Associated Press reported. Baldacci said the bill shows “our state is a state that recognizes the importance of individual rights and civil rights for all citizens.”

It also gives domestic partners the same inheritance rights as a spouse when a married partner dies without a will. The measure allows domestic partners to register with the state as such. Registered couples’ partnerships could not be terminated without the consent of both parties. They will also have priority for appointment as personal representatives, guardians or conservators for an estate or custodian of the remains of a deceased partner.

“From the beginning, this has been about fairness and justice for what are today’s families here in Maine, and giving them the same protections that certain married couples have already,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Representative Ben Dudley, a Democrat.

However, Christian Civic League of Maine executive director Michael Heath said the bill will work to “destroy the family,” which should consist of a mother and father who are committed for a lifetime.

The domestic partner issue and benefits to be extended to them have proved enormously controversial issues for state and local governments across the country in recent months.