The US state of Maine’s House of Representatives has voted in favour of a legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry under state law. After a three hour debate, the House voted 89-58 in favour of the bill.

The House version and that of the Senate now must be unified and undergo a final vote before going to the desk of Gov. John Baldacci, who has the right to veto the legislation. The governor is apparently still undecided about gay marriage.

“Today, Maine joins the growing list of states who have voted to grant marriage equality to same-sex couples. It’s becoming increasingly clear that legislators across the nation understand that it’s simply the right thing to do,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese in a statement.

“We urge Maine Governor John Baldacci to sign this bill into law and unequivocally place Maine on the right side of history.”

The legislation would repeal Maine’s 12-year old so-called Defense of Marriage law which bars same-sex marriage. It also states that churches would not be compelled to conduct same-sex weddings if it is inconsistent with their doctrine.

Currently Maine provides same-sex couples with access to limited rights and benefits through a domestic partner registry. So far, four US states recognise same-sex marriage under state law. These include Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont (as from September 1, 2009).

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