Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Maine voters wipe out gay marriage law

[Updated 7 Nov 1:00 p.m.]
PORTLAND, Maine -- Gays lost marriage in Maine on Nov. 3. A "people's veto" at the ballot box wiped out the law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor. It had not taken effect, pending the outcome of the vote.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, voters took marriage away from gays by a margin of 52.82 percent to 47.18 percent. The vote total was 299,808 to 267,785.

It was the 31st time same-sex marriage has lost at the ballot box in a U.S. state. It has never won.

"Tonight hundreds of thousands of Maine voters stood for equality but in the end, it wasn't enough," said NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality Campaign Manager Jesse Connolly (above). "I am proud of the thousands of Mainers who knocked on doors, made phone calls and talked to their family, friends and neighbors about the basic premise of treating all Maine families equally. And I'm proud of this campaign because the stories we told and the images we shared were of real Mainers -- parents who stood up for their children, and couples who simply wanted to marry the person they love."

"We're in this for the long haul," he said. "For next week and next month and next year -- until all Maine families are treated equally. Because in the end, this has always been about love and family and that will always be something worth fighting for."
The very well-run NO on 1 campaign studied and learned from the failed Proposition 8 campaign last year in California. No on 8 didn't use gay people in its television ads; NO on 1 did. No on 8 took too long to respond to the opposition's scary TV ads; NO on 1 responded immediately each time.

About the only thing NO on 1 could have tried that it didn't was to run alarmist, negative ads itself. Some observers thought NO on 1 should have tried that, but there was no loud or sustained effort to change the campaign's decision in that regard. The campaign believed that calling its opponents "bigots" would alienate some of Maine's libertarian-leaning voters who opposed vetoing same-sex marriage based on general political philosophy more than any strong pro-gay sentiment.

"We are fools to have spent all this money and time and not have defined the opponents," said Steve Hildebrand, who was Barack Obama's deputy national campaign director and advises Obama on gay issues.

"It's not enough to answer their charges," Hildebrand said Nov. 6. "We need to hit them back and not let up on it until voters don't buy their lies anymore. (The NO on 1 and No on 8 campaigns were) malpractice in my opinion."

NO on 1's TV ads stuck to a theme of equality for all Maine families.

The opposition repeated over and over that legalizing same-sex marriage would provoke Maine schools to inculcate children with homosexual propaganda. The anti-same-sex-marriage campaign also ran an ad arguing that Maine's domestic-partnership law, which does not bestow all state-level rights and obligations of marriage, provides same-sex couples with enough equality.

During the campaign, Connolly dismissed the opposition's messaging as unbelievable.

"These are the same old doomsday tactics that opponents of equality have been using not just in Maine, but in every state from California to Iowa to New York," he said in September. "They want to change the subject, to talk about anything else. But Question 1 is only about fairness and equality for Maine families. We believe Maine people will see through this cynical strategy."
Some apparently did. Gay marriage was a winner in the cities of Portland (74%), South Portland (64%) and Bangor (54%), and in places such as Kennebunkport (61%) and Bar Harbor (71%). It lost in the cities of Lewiston (41%) and Augusta (47%).

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force expressed deep disappointment over the outcome.

"This heartbreaking defeat in Maine unfortunately shows that lies and fear can still win at the ballot box," said Executive Director Rea Carey. "Yet despite this setback, the tide clearly is turning nationwide in favor of marriage equality. We are confident that Maine will again join the growing number of states that extend the essential security and legal protections of marriage to all loving, committed couples. All across the nation, same-sex couples and their families are sharing their stories and their lives with others in a conversation that is transforming our country. That doesn't end today. If anything, it inspires and compels us to press forward. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the thousands of volunteers and campaign workers who fought their hardest for equality in Maine, to the NO on 1 campaign and EqualityMaine for their enduring leadership, and to the voters who cast their ballots for fairness rather than fear-mongering."

Some 8,000 people volunteered on the NO on 1 campaign, its officials said.
Unlike in California, where voters amended the state constitution to re-ban same-sex marriage, Maine voters merely struck down a law that had been passed. A new same-sex marriage bill could be introduced in the Maine Legislature, passed, and signed into law by the governor, starting the process all over again.

Indeed, Maine's GLBT anti-discrimination law went that very route. It was passed twice only to be vetoed by voters. Then, the third time it passed, they upheld it.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont, and becomes legal in New Hampshire in January. In addition, New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., are thought to be on the verge of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Internationally, same-sex marriage is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, South Africa and Sweden.
(Photos by Andrés Duque)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Maine election night live

Election night - NO on 1 campaign event - Holiday Inn - Portland, Maine

[1:32 a.m.] The NO on 1 campaign has not conceded, but looking at the precincts that have not been counted, it's difficult to see how the No side could make up the 28,000 votes that separate "Yes" and "No." That's it for now.

[1:26 a.m. Last update for now.] Gays: 47.25%. Anti-gays: 52.75%. 87% of precincts reporting.

[12:49 a.m.] Gay side carried Portland (73%) , South Portland (64%), Bangor (54%), Kennebunkport (61%), Bar Harbor (73%) and UMaine (81%). Anti-gay side carried Lewiston (60%) and Augusta (53%).

[12:26 a.m.] Campaign Director Jesse Connolly does not concede; says absentee/early-voting ballots have not been counted, and neither have towns and villages.

[10:20 p.m.] Gov. John Baldacci.
[10:08 p.m.] Gays: 50.62%. Anti-gays: 49.38%. 22% of precincts reporting. Bangor Daily News (best election-results site) very crashy. Too may antsy gays! NO on 1 Twitter results feed going strong.
[9:09 p.m.] Events are under way here. Off to take some pics.
[9:08 p.m.] They're saying we just won Kalamazoo. The bad guys were trying to undo a GLBT anti-discrimination law.
[8:45 p.m.] The fastest incoming results are on the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality Twitter feed. The fastest organized/coordinated results are here.

[7:31 p.m.] Live from the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality election-night event in downtown Portland, your friendly bloggers at work.
[5:27 p.m.] Heading down to the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality election-night event.

The days leading up to the Maine vote

[Nov. 3, 1:52 p.m.] I'll be blogging from the Maine NO on 1 election-night event. The polls close at 8.
[Nov. 2, 2:38 a.m.]
Evening "Get Out The Vote" debriefing for NO on 1 volunteers who spent the day knocking on doors.
One of several such rooms around the state.
Alas, the gay side took a tumble in the latest polling (here), though it's still within the margin of error.
It's all gonna be about which side gets its voters to the polls.
And you can still help with that via phone if you live anywhere in the U.S. Click here.
Not that civil rights and equal treatment under the law ever should be put to a popular vote, but, for some reason, many states think that's cool.
The bottom-bottom line, of course, is that this really is not about marriage. If they thought they could get away with it, the folks who funded this "people's veto" campaign in Maine would take more away from gays than just marriage. In Washington state on Tuesday, they'll try to take away domestic-partnership rights. In California, they're freaked out that the Governator signed the Harvey Milk Day bill into law. It's not just that they don't want us to get married.
So, we have to keep fighting. If we lose in Maine on Tuesday, the Legislature will just pass the law again and the governor will sign it again. We're not talking about a constitutional amendment here, as was the case with Prop 8 in California. In reality, gays are going to be able to get married in all states, perhaps even soon if the Olson/Boies Prop 8 case succeeds at the U.S. Supreme Court.
[Nov. 1, 1:48 a.m.] Will the gays win Maine on Tuesday? I haven't a clue, but here are the factors in play...
1. The polls are a tie. That may not be good for the gays because, it is thought, some people who are going to vote in a way that others consider bigoted may not tell pollsters the truth. 2. Opponents of same-sex marriage tend to feel more strongly about the issue than supporters do. Opponents, therefore, may feel more motivated to actually go vote. Not good for the gays. 3. However, the gay side's get-out-the-vote operation here in Maine is superior to the opponents' GOTV operation. This is very good for the gays. Regardless of how someone feels about same-sex marriage, it doesn't matter a drop if they don't go vote.
These vexing topics must be what No on 1 campaign spokesperson Karin Roland and I were discussing in the hallway tonight as Andrés Duque shot an endless series of pictures. Or maybe we were just making Halloween faces at each other. Note her horns.

Julia Rosen from the Courage Campaign also was sporting Halloween horns.
Below, I ran in to fellow San Diegan Elaine Graybill in the No on 1/Protect Maine Equality headquarters.
No on 1 is still looking for volunteers from anywhere in the U.S. for its "Call for Equality" program. Clickez-vous here.
[Oct. 31, 12:45 p.m.] Less than three days to go. There's not much more to say except that Halloween is frightening when the National Organization for Marriage's gathering storm is threatening to rain a people's veto down on you, wiping out your right to get married. Gays and their supporters have fanned out across the state today with thousands of clipboards. Their main goal is to make sure that all the people who support same-sex marriage get to the polls Tuesday.
Joe Sudbay from AMERICAblog. He's a Maine native.

Once again, Karin Roland, my handler from the NO on 1 campaign's communications team.
She keeps an eye on me.
Karin Roland has not been the only bit of pleasantness in my daily life here. Also delightful: Julia Rosen from the Courage Campaign.
Also on the scene: Blabbeando blogger Andrés Duque.

[Oct. 30, 1:09 p.m.] Maine doesn't have a lot of people (the same number live in the San Diego city limits) but this battle is hugely important as the first voter referendum on gay marriage since Prop 8. If the gays win here, they knock the wind out of the opposition's sails, they go on to win same-sex marriage in New York and New Jersey later this year, California votes again and Prop 8 dies, and that's the end of same-sex-marriage culture war. If, on the other hand, the opposition wins here in Maine, they prove that they can continue to take away gay people's marriage rights by blasting the airwaves with ads claiming that gay marriage melts kindergartners' brains -- and they prove, for the first time, that they can take away gay people's marriage rights even when the Legislature passed the gay marriage bill and the governor signed it into law. There were no "activist judges" involved here in Maine. So, what happens here Tuesday: It matters, no matter where you live in the U.S.
[Oct. 30, 11:20 a.m. The Rachel.]
[Oct. 29, 5:41 p.m.] There are 8,000 volunteers working on the campaign to stop the National Organization for Marriage from taking away gay and lesbian Mainers' right to marry. There are 4 days to go.
More volunteers still are needed for two of NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality's projects: Drive for Equality, and Call for Equality. As explained further down in this post, Call for Equality volunteers can work from anywhere in the U.S. There are training sessions for volunteers every day, including the morning of Nov. 3, election day.
Last night I was in the mood for a photo essay, capturing the scenes in various rooms of NO on 1's headquarters.
And down the street at one of No on 1's call centers.

I made Campaign Manager Jesse Connolly stand still for a new pic.
This poor woman seemingly has been assigned to be my handler. If I am in NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality's offices, she is at my side, making sure I don't ... well, we'll never know what I might do if left to my own devices, because Karin Roland is my constant companion. Truth be told, she's lovely. For some reason, Karin and I have become fixated on the sign below -- one of many that could have captured our attention -- in one of the offices. "What," it asks, "would Harvey do?" Of course, no one can say for sure, but I think he might have been impressed with the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality operation. They are doing a very good job of doing what they decided to do. Of course, that leaves open the question of whether what they decided to do was the right mix of tactics.

[Oct. 28, 2:39 a.m.] The NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign headquarters.
NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality Campaign Manager Jesse Connolly.

Karin Roland of the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality Online Communications Team. Karin needs you. See below.
Here's what Karin needs. This. Basically, Karin needs you to get trained fast, then make lots of phone calls to Maine from wherever you are. It won't cost you anything. The software calls you. Your phone number won't be revealed. Caller ID will show the NO on 1 office number.

"Call for Equality is critical to our plan to reach all the voters in Maine we need to reach," Roland told me in an interview. "We literally need to make hundreds of thousands of dials through that program -- and in order to do that, we know we need several hundred more people to sign up. You can sign up and get trained now, and start calling now, and then you'll be all set to call on election day."

"We're calling people who we believe support marriage equality," Roland said. "That is a no vote on Question 1. We are confirming that they support marriage equality -- and the vast majority of them do -- and we are urging them to vote early if they support marriage equality -- to vote no on 1 early. Voting early is the best thing that our supporters in Maine can do to help us right now because it lets us take them off our list for election day. We have to literally make over half a million calls in the last week of this campaign, but if you vote today, you just take one of those calls off of our list."
[Oct. 28, 1:00 a.m.] I'm in Maine to observe the same-sex marriage battle.
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