baldacci Victory in Maine; New England Closer to Freedom to Marry ZoneMaine’s governor (pictured) signed a freshly passed bill Wednesday approving gay marriage, making it the fifth state to approve the practice and moving New England closer to allowing it throughout the region.

New Hampshire legislators were also poised to send a gay marriage bill to their governor, who hasn’t indicated whether he’ll sign it. If he does, Rhode Island would be the region’s sole holdout.

The Maine Senate voted 21-13, with one absent, for a bill that authorizes marriage between any two people rather than between one man and one woman, as state law currently allows. The House had passed the bill Tuesday.

Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, who hadn’t previously indicated how he would handle the bill, signed it shortly afterward. In the past, he said he opposed gay marriage but supported civil unions, which provide many benefits of marriage.