Gay marriage leaps ahead in Maine, New Hampshire

In a banner day for US advocates of gay marriage, Maine's governor signed a freshly passed bill Wednesday allowing the practice and was followed closely by New Hampshire lawmakers' vote for such a measure. If New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signs the bill or lets it become law without his signature, his state would become the sixth overall in the United States to allow gay marriage and the fifth in the northeastern US Rhode Island would be the only holdout in the New England region. Maine Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat who hadn't indicated how he would handle his state's bill, signed it shortly after the legislation passed the Senate on a vote of 21-13 - a margin not large enough to override a veto. "In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions," Baldacci said in a statement read in his office. "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."