Catholics have aligned with evangelical Protestants to take the lead role in the campaign to overturn Maine's same-sex marriage law. And now a coalition that includes Protestant and Jewish leaders is speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage -- and against the question on the November ballot to repeal the law.
"As a person of faith, it is vital to me that we oppose Question 1 in November.
The Reverend Donald Rudalvige is a retired United Methodist Pastor from Cape Elizabeth. He joined about 25 religious leaders in Portland - including those from the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ and Conservative Judaism - in condemning the ballot question.
"This is not simply a question of equal rights, vital though that is...It is also a matter of ouru integrity as persons of faith. To deny others, specifically gays and lesbians in this instance, full legal rights as loving couples, diminishes our own relationship with God and with our neighbor."
Faith leaders in the so-called Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine formed to support passage of the state same-sex marriage law. Now they are coming forward again, with just a month to go before the Maine voters decide the fate of the law, and with polls showing that the issue is tightly contested.
Coalition members SAY? BELIEVE? extending marriage to everybody is the just thing to do, while faith leaders in the Yes On 1 campaign assert that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
"Things like that speak to the new reality of religon in America."
David Mosci is a research fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
"You know in the past, Protestants didn't like Catholics who didn't like Jews, etc., etc. The divisions today are very different. They are between really more liberal religious groups and more conservative groups. So you see a lot of alliances between Catholics and Evangelicals and Mormons. And in the past these groups didn't always get along very well."
Mosci points to the example of when John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, was running for president and had faced an uphill battle winning over Protestant voters.
Now Catholics and evangelicals are joining forces not only over same-sex marriage, but abortion.
"It's a bit unique for us to be working so closely with evangelicals."
Mark Mutty, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Maine IS helping to lead the Yes on One campaign. He says he is more used to working on social justice and health care issues with many of the faith leaders on the opposite side of the same-sex marriage issue.
But he says Catholics and evangelicals just feel so strongly the same way.
"So you see strange bedfellows developingn around the issue that deifes traidtiona ."
Bob Emrich, another leader in the Yes on 1 campaign and a pastor OF Emanuel Bible Baptist church in Plymouth, says ONE THING HIS coalition members have in common is a stricter, more literal reading of the Bible.
"In three major sections of the Bible you have the same clear statement about marriage between a man and a woman and it's not just one particular it' the view of the scripture as a whole. And that really is the dividing line here ."
"This is a scriptural issue."
Ben Shambaugh is dean of St. Luke's Episcopal Cathedral in Portland and a supporter of the gay marriage law.
"My position on this issue is not a denial of scripture but comes from a full reading of scripture. That I believe that the full inclusion of all people in all the sacraments comes from a direct reading of Jesus' vision of a Kingdom of God that we are called to bring about here on earth."
While religious leaders in the coalition supporting same-sex marriage are united in their view of the law, they acknowledge that some of their members are not.
Unlike socially conservative religious groups or social liberal ones, mainline Protestant denominations are struggling with the issue of same-sex marriage and ordaining gay clergy.
Again Mosci of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
"In some of the more maineline prteostatna luterhans, presbytierans, Methodist, sand episocaipalisn this issue has stirre dup some consternation and a lto fo pp on both sides of the issues on easchsidoe fthise issue have been troubled by things that the church has or hasn't done…."
Mosci says that some more conservative congregations have borken off from Episocopalian and Presbyterian churches.
Bishop Stephen Lane of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine acknowledges there are differences within his own church and he respects them.
"There will be no effort to compel or coerce any minister to act in a way contrary to his or her belief and conscience. "
But Lane adds that he is continuing to work on develop guidelines to help clergy bless the unions of same-sex couples in the event that the referendum is defeated in November.