Gay bishop backs same-sex marriage in Maine

06/02/2012 5:00 AM

06/02/2012 6:50 PM

PORTLAND, Maine — Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, married his longtime partner on New Year’s Day 2010 — the day same-sex marriage became legal in his home state of New Hampshire.

Robinson hopes Maine voters follow in its neighbor’s footsteps and legalize same-sex marriage in a ballot proposal in November. Robinson is coming to Maine on behalf of the campaign seeking to legalize gay marriage, appearing at three screenings of a film about his life and his struggles to be accepted within the Anglican church.

Maine is the second state where Robinson is appearing at showings of "Love Free or Die" for campaigns connected to gay marriage. He is confident the results in Maine will be different from those in North Carolina, where he appeared at screenings of the film a few weeks ahead of last month’s election in which that state’s voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman.

"I have the feeling there’s a real momentum building for marriage equality in Maine, and that makes me very happy," Robinson said.

The Maine Legislature passed gay marriage in 2009, but it was overturned by 53 percent of the voters in a referendum that fall. Supporters of this year’s initiative say Mainers have become more open to the idea in the past three years.

Robinson’s consecration in 2003 as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican church created an international uproar and led conservative Episcopalians to break away from the main church in the United States. Robinson, 65, is retiring next January.

"Love Free or Die" had its world premiere in January at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where it won a special jury prize.

The film title is a play off of New Hampshire’s "live free or die" motto. Robinson and his husband, Mark Andrew, were married after the New Hampshire Legislature legalized same-sex marriage.

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