BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- As the November election nears, more religious leaders in Maine are taking public positions on the same-sex marriage ballot question.
In a Wednesday afternoon press conference outside of the Bangor Library, the group Mainers United for Marriage announced new numbers showing 350 members of clergy or faith-based communities support same-sex marriage across the state -- a figure that represents 20 different denominations and 158 Maine towns.
While Mainers United for Marriage did not count clergy support in the 2009 same-sex marriage campaign, a spokesman said the campaign has received more support this year across the board, which includes religious communities.
Religious leaders such as Pastor Elaine Hewes of the Redeemer Lutheran Church and Rabbi Darah Lerner of Congregation Beth El, both of Bangor, spoke at the press conference in support of same-sex marriage.
"It is my faith that leads me to believe in God of unconditional covenantal relationship...that is what forms the basis of human meaning," said Pastor Hewes, who said she is not representing her entire church in her public position.
It's an encouraging sign to people like Bev Uhlenhake, who is in a committed same-sex partnership, and wants same-sex marriage to pass this November.
"It does give you a pause and make you feel wonderful about what's going on," said Uhlenhake. "If they're out there praying to God to make this happen, maybe we'll get somewhere."
It's a trend that members of opposition groups have noticed, too.
"I think that's something different this time," said Carroll Conley Jr., a member of the Christian Civic League of Maine and the Political Action Committee Protect Marriage Maine.
"It really wasn't argued from a faith perspective [in 2009]," said Conley.
He said he hopes the discourse remains civil and respectful to all religious beliefs, and he welcomes opposing viewpoints from different religious backgrounds.
"It doesn't disqualify us to engage in public policy because we happen to e coming from a Christian or religious perspective," said Carroll.
If the same-sex marriage measure passes in November, it would make Maine the first state to allow same-sex marriage by a ballot question.