Gay Marriage Debate Part I 

(AP) – The Maine House is preparing to take up a same-sex marriage bill, and its prospects are good given the number of co-sponsors and momentum from last week’s Senate vote. The bill, which won a 21-14 vote of approval in the Senate last week, goes to the House on Tuesday. The bill has more than 60 co-sponsors, most of them House members. Shenna Bellows of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, a leading supporter of the bill, said she’s “cautiously optimistic” about Tuesday’s outcome because of the strong sponsorship. Marc Mutty of the Catholic Diocese of Portland said he and other opponents haven’t lobbied the House very aggressively, so Tuesday’s vote is a “wild card.” At least one amendment has been prepared for possible consideration Tuesday.*Below you’ll find the WABI TV5 Script on Adrienne Bennett’s coverage on the topic of same sex marriage. In Part I of her series of reports Adrienne takes a closer look into the lives of one couple and their son. WABI TV5 SCRIPT ON TUESDAY MAINE LAWMAKERS ARE POISED TO VOTE ON A BILL THAT COULD MAKE THE STATE THE FIFTH IN THE NATION TO LEGALIZE SAME SEX MARRIAGE.THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IS EXPECTED TO VOTE TUESDAY.LAST WEEK THE SENATE SUPPORTED THE BILL 21 TO FOURTEEN. TONIGHT, WE TAKE AN IN DEPTH LOOK AT THIS ISSUE THAT HAS DIVIDED LAWMAKERS AND MANY OTHERS IN MAINE..FOR YEARS…CENTRAL MAINE BUREAU CHIEF ADRIENNE BENNETT IS ON THE STORY..ADRIENNE..IT’S THE BATTLE OF SEXES…SAME SEX COUPLES VERSUS ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN UNITED IN MARRIAGE…IT’S NOT THE FIRST TIME MAINE HAS HAD THIS DEBATE…IN 19-98 AND 20-01 GAY RIGHTS INITIATIVES WERE OVERTURNED BY VOTERS…4 YEAR OLD ELI IS HAPPY, SMART AND ARTICULATE. HE’S A YOUNG BOY WHO WANTS TO BE A BASEBALL PLAYER WHEN HE GROWS UP…AND HIS FAMILY IS BACKING UP THAT DREAM…FOR ELI’S PARENTS THOUGH, THEIR DREAM IS A BIT MORE COMPLICATED…MOMMY (VICTORIA) AND MOMMA (CARLA) ARE ELI’S PARENTS. THEY’VE BEEN TOGETHER FOR NINE YEARSCARLA HOPKINS CARRIED ELI AND AFTER GIVING BIRTH VICTORIA ELEFTHERIOU ADOPTED HIM…”there’s things in it. You want me to show you it?” BUT MARRIAGE IS THE ONE MILESTONE THEY HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO REACH…”It’s hard knowing that you can’t have what other people have, other families have.”CARLA HOPKINS WAS THE FIRST TO TESTIFY DURING A LEGISLATIVE PUBLIC HEARING THAT DREW THOUSANDS TO THE AUGUSTA CIVIC CENTER LAST MONTH…”This isn’t about special rights. This is about equal rights for all Maine families.” “the energy in that room was amazing and I feel a little emotional talking about it now.”THE BILL CARLA AND HUNDREDS OF OTHERS SPOKE IN SUPPORT OF WOULD MAKE SEVERAL CHANGES TO MAINE LAW INCLUDING:CHANGING THE DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE TO THE UNION OF TWO PEOPLE – NOT JUST ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN. IT ALSO ALLOWS ANY TWO PEOPLE OF APPROPRIATE AGE TO GET A MARRIAGE LICENSEAND IT AFFIRMS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, ACKNOWLEDGING RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS CONTINUE TO HAVE CONTROL OVER THEIR RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE AND TEACHINGS.”this is not about religion. It’s not about politics. It’s about love. A commitment, a life-long commitment. It’s about protecting our son and protecting each other.” BOTH CARLA AND VICTORIA WORK FOR THE STATE AND HAD TO FIGHT WITH THEIR EMPLOYER FOR MORE THAN A YEAR TO GET HEALTH COVERAGE FOR THEIR SON…”we were told no because we weren’t married though we were raising our son together that didn’t matter.”WHEN THE COUPLE TRIED TO SET UP THEIR STATE RETIREMENT ACCOUNT TO ENSURE FUTURE SECURITY FOR ELI, THE SAME REASONING DENIED THEM ACCESS TO MAXIMUM BENEFITS…”we were told, oh you can designate each other but if one dies the surviving partner would not be eligible for the survivor’s benefit, which is a higher rate because we’re not married.”WHILE THE SENATE AND HOUSE COULD PASS THE BILL THAT REDEFINES MARRIAGE CARLA AND VICTORIA KNOW THE OPPONENTS ARE SET TO STRIKE BACK WITH A PEOPLE’S VETO WHICH WOULD PUT THE ISSUE BEFORE VOTERS IN NOVEMBER.”we strongly believe that the civil rights of a few, of a minority shouldn’t be voted on by the majority.”BUT HOPE IS STILL ALIVE AND THIS FAMILY IS CERTAIN TIMES ARE CHANGING…”it’s always the right time to give people civil rights.” UNDER MAINE LAW, VOTERS CAN CHALLENGE A BILL WITH A PEOPLE’S VETO. TO PLACE A MEASURE ON THE BALLOT THIS NOVEMBER REQUIRES OPPONENTS TURN IN 55-THOUSAND VALID SIGNATURES BY SEPTEMBER 3. OPPONENTS OF THE BILL CANNOT BEGIN COLLECTING NAMES UNTIL AFTER THE LEGISLATURE HAS ADJOURNED WHICH WILL BE IN MID-JULY.COMING UP TUESDAY NIGHT WE’LL HEAR FROM THOSE WHO WILL BE TAKING UP THAT TASK IF NEED BE.WE’LL ALSO HAVE WORD FROM THE GOVERNOR AND WHAT HE PLANS TO DO WHEN AND IF THE BILL HITS HIS DESK.