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Maine voters rethink views on gay marriage

PORTLAND, Maine — Benjamin Hubley opposed the 2009 statewide referendum seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine. This time around, he says he will vote in support of it.

The 92-year-old resident of South Portland said he has grown to accept the idea that people of the same sex should be allowed to marry. He is one of the voters that advocates are counting on to make gay marriage legal.

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‘‘I would say it isn’t a life-or-death issue with me, it was just gradual,’’ said Hubley.

Mainers will vote Tuesday on whether to make same-sex marriage legal. The vote comes three years after the state’s voters overturned a gay-marriage law, 53 to 47 percent, that had been enacted by the Legislature.

Since 2009, gay marriage supporters say they’ve had more than 200,000 conversations with residents, on the phone and in person, to try to persuade people that gay couples should be able to marry, according to Mainers United for Marriage, which supports the referendum.

Mainers United is counting on people who didn’t vote in 2009 to back the referendum this year, said spokesman David Farmer. With a presidential election, the turnout is expected be higher than three years ago. About 570,000 Mainers voted in 2009, while more than 730,000 voted in the 2008 presidential election. The electorate is also likely to be younger than in 2009, Farmer said, which would help the referendum.

Mainers United is also counting on people who have changed their minds. The group has a list of randomly selected people who indicated they opposed gay marriage three years ago, but planned to vote in favor of it now.

Many people will tell gay marriage supporters and pollsters that they support gay marriage when they don’t, said Carroll Conley, head of the Christian Civic League of Maine and cochairman of Protect Marriage Maine, a PAC that opposes the referendum.

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