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Aug 24 2009

Same Sex Marriage, And Why You Passionately Care About Maine

Maine postcard.JPGYou care about Maine.

You fervently, powerfully, passionately care about Maine.

Trust me on this one. You may not know it yet. You may be going, “Maine? Huh? I mean, sure, Maine’s cool, I’ve got nothing against Maine — but care about it passionately?” You do. Maine is very, very important to you.

Let me explain why.

No on 1As you may or may not know, the Maine legislature recently legalized same-sex marriage. But Maine law allows for a “people’s veto,” letting voters overturn any law the legislature passes. There is, predictably, a proposition on the Maine ballot this November — Proposition 1 — to overturn this new law, and ban same-sex marriage in the state. People who support marriage equality are gearing up — have been gearing up for some time — to defeat Prop. 1.

So why is this so important? I mean, there are battles over same-sex marriage in lots of states: battles happening right now, and ones looming on the horizon. And they’re happening in states that are a lot bigger than Maine, and a whole lot more visible. Why do you care about this one so much? Why is this fight different from all other fights?

There are two big reasons why you care about Maine. Momentum, and precedent.

Let’s talk momentum first. The far right and the religious right see Maine’s Proposition 1 as ground zero in the fight to stop same-sex marriage. They are already pouring huge gobs of money and resources into this one; they even got the same guy who ran the Yes on Prop 8 campaign to run it. They’re not idiots: they see that the momentum for same-sex marriage has been building like a freight train. We lost a lot of steam over Prop 8; but we picked it up again with Iowa and Vermont and New Hampshire, and indeed with Maine. And public opinion is slowly but steadily shifting in favor of same-sex marriage.

The far right desperately wants to stop this one in its tracks.

We can’t let them.

Maine lesbian coupleWe have to keep the momentum going. Momentum is huge in changing public opinion: with every state that legalizes same-sex marriage, it becomes increasingly obvious that same-sex marriage won’t destroy your family and poison your dog and bring civilization to its knees. It becomes increasingly obvious that when same-sex marriage is legalized, life goes on pretty much exactly like it did before — except that same-sex couples will be visiting their partners in the hospital and so on.

And momentum is huge in politics. A win makes the next campaign on the issue seem less radical and less scary; not just for voters, but for politicians and public figures, who are way more likely to fight for a cause if it looks like it already has some traction. A win energizes and inspires the winners; a loss tends to demoralize the losers, and forces them to retrench. Plus, for better or worse, a lot of people don’t like to feel like they’re on the losing side. They’re more likely to support a candidate or a cause when it looks like it can win, and is winning. With every state that legalizes same-sex marriage, the next one is way more likely to do it too. Same-sex marriage is going to look more normal, more like no big deal… and it’s going to look inevitable.

The right isn’t wrong about this one. This is ground zero. We need to get every bit as involved in No on 1 as we did in No on 8. If we lose this one, we will, in fact, have lost a tremendous amount of momentum. But if we win, we will have loaded a huge heap of coal into that freight train’s engine. It will make the fight for same-sex marriage in every other state — in New York, in New Jersey, in California in 2010 or 2012, and eventually in Oregon and Minnesota and Alabama — much, much easier, and much more winnable.

Ballot boxThe other reason Maine is so important is precedent. Same-sex marriage can now be legally performed in five U.S. states, six if you count Maine — but in every one of those states, it was legalized by either the legislature or the courts. In the U.S., same-sex marriage has never, ever won at the ballot box. Ever. The right has always been able to use smears and scare tactics and even flat-out lies to keep voters from supporting same-sex marriage
 tactics that are (marginally) less effective on judges and legislators than they are on voters.

If we win this one, it will be a huge precedent. The far right won’t be able to say that the courts and legislatures are shoving same-sex marriage down the throats of the people. The people will have spoken. And they will have spoken for fairness and equality.

There’s one more thing I want to point out before I finish up: This is a very winnable fight. The polls are very close on Prop 1… and as of this writing, we’re slightly ahead. And the No on 1 organization is very, very good: they’ve been working on this issue for years, and they’re already well-prepared to launch their opposition to the ugly attacks they know they’ll be getting. They’ve already started doing education and what they call “inoculation” against the fear-mongering they know they’re going to be facing. And Maine is, as the No on 1 organizers are fond of saying, a cheap date. It’s a small state, and media buys and whatnot are a lot less expensive than they were in, say, California. We can win this one.

Okay. So now you passionately care about Maine. You get why supporting No on 1 is the biggest, most important thing you can do right now to support same-sex marriage — not just for Maine, but for the rest of the country.

What can you do to help?

Talk1: Talk about it. We have to get this on the national radar now. If you’re a blogger, blog about it. If you’re a journalist, cover it. If you’re a progressive activist, get it on the radar of progressive organizations and allies — even ones that aren’t specifically focused on LGBT issues. And if you’re a regular citizen, talk about it. Tweet it, Facebook it, shoot it to your email list, gas on about it at parties, bring it up with your family and friends. Explain about the momentum, and the precedent, and the winnability. Let other people know, not just that the fight is happening, but why it’s such a big freakin’ deal.

And do it now. Don’t wait until right before the election. We don’t want to make the mistake we made with Prop 8 (well, one of the mistakes): we don’t want to spend the entire campaign playing defense. We need to help lay the groundwork now for a pro-active campaign. And in Maine, early voting starts in early October. If we wait until November to pitch in on this fight, we’ll have waited too long. We have to get this on the national radar, now.

Piggy_bank_-_dollar2: Give money. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount — again, Maine is a cheap date, and small amounts can make a big difference — but give what you can. (If everyone who reads this blog donated $25, that would be a decent-sized chunk of their budget.)

And do it now. Don’t wait until right before the election. Early money is one of the most powerful tools that a political campaign can have. Political campaigns need to know early what their budget will be so they can plan accordingly; more to the point, media buys and other costly campaigning efforts have to be done early in order to be really effective. (See above, re: not screwing up and playing defense like we did with Prop 8.) And again, early voting in Maine starts in early October: if we wait until November, we’ll have waited too long.

Helping_hands_43: Pitch in. The No on 1 campaign is doing something they’re calling a Volunteer Vacation: if you fly yourself out to Maine, they’ll put you up in community housing, and they’ll train you on canvassing and phone banking and political campaigning generally — training you’ll be able to use, not just in this campaign, but in any campaign you decide to get involved with in the future. Plus you’ll get to visit Maine in the fall, which is unbelievably gorgeous. (There are four one- week shifts available, from October 4 through November 1.)

And if you already live in Maine, there’s plenty you can do to help: you can canvass, phone bank, do data entry or other office help, host house parties, and more.

Maine isn’t just where the battle is now. Maine will help immeasurably in winning every other battle we have ahead of us. This fight is different from all other fights. Please help win it.

39 comments

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  1. 1
    Teleprompter

    Remember the Maine.

  2. 2
    Eli

    Seems like they won’t (or can’t) accept donations from non-U.S. citizens outside USA. …which is a shame, since I was about to donate a small amount. :\

  3. 3
    Ubiquitous Che

    I’m with Eli – I was going to drop some monies, but then I saw the section below:

    [checkbox] I confirm that the following statements are true and accurate.
    -I am a United States citizen or a permanent resident alien. [no]
    -This contribution is made from my own funds, and funds are not being provided to me by another person or entity for the purpose of making this contribution. [tyes]
    -I am making this contribution with my own personal credit card and not with a corporate or business credit card or a card issued to another person. [yes]
    -I am not a federal contractor. [yes]
    -I am at least eighteen years old. [yes]

    :(

  4. 4
    Greta Christina

    It’s true — if you’re from outside the U.S., you can’t donate money to a U.S. political campaign. But you can still talk it up among people you know who do live in the U.S., and blog/ Facebook/ Twitter about it if you do those things.

  5. 5
    J. J. Ramsey

    I suggest that in your link for donations that you replace the “http” at the front with “https” like this. Your link works as it is, but it appears to be insecure, so credit card info will probably be sent without encryption.

  6. 6
    Eli

    It’s a good rule really. Here in Norway we had this small political protest party. They recieved a lot of money from the apartheid regime in South Africa, because they supported the regime. Today they are the second most popular party in Norway. They might actually win the election this fall.
    A little off topic, I know, but I thought it was worth sharing.

  7. 7
    Richard

    Thanks for the post. I just chipped in a little bit.
    I’m convinced our side will win. But it would be nice if we can win sooner, rather than later.

  8. 8
    Dawn on MDI

    Greta, thanks for telling people about our fight. We’re preparing for what will likely be Maine’s most expensive and certainly our nastiest political fight ever. The public hearing on the bill was amazing – our side told stories of how we wanted dignity and recognition and fair treatment and the other side accused us of being child molesters and wanting to marry our pets. It’s going to be like that again, only played out in television ads and letters to the editor. We need all the help our friends and allies can send us. We’re working hard, but devotion doesn’t pay for media buys. Thanks for getting the word out, and thanks to your readers for supporting our effort here.

  9. 9
    John B Hodges

    I don’t see any mention of a postal address where people can send checks. Does anyone know if donating by check through the U.S. mail is possible? Are they set up to receive donations that way?

  10. 10
    Cody

    Checks should be made out to No on 1: Protect Maine Equality, and can be send to:
    No on 1: Protect Maine Equality
    P.O. Box 8780
    Portland, ME 04104
    Thank you all so much for your support; you have no idea how much it means to know that we are not alone in this fight.

  11. 11
    Kit Whitfield

    I can’t donate money as I’m a UK citizen, but yes yes yes this is a fine cause. I’ve put up a post on my blog and a shout-out to my American cyberbuddies. Wish I could do more.
    It degrades us all as people and hurts all our freedoms when a state declares that some people are less than others because of what they do with their own bodies in their own homes. Wishing all the brave people who fight this good fight the very best of luck.

  12. 12
    gonovelgo

    Unfortunately I also can’t donate money, but you can bet I’ll be trying to drum up support for the campaign whenever I see it mentioned online. Hopefully it will encourage those ‘on the ground’ to know that people from all over the world are supporting them!

  13. 13
    Anonymous

    Greta, perhaps as a trusted figure you could accept donations from outside-the-US citizens and contribute that towards the campaign? I have no idea if that is legal, if it’s not, obviously ignore this idea!

  14. 14
    Anonymous

    Although as a Brit I cannot donate, I wish you good luck with defeating Proposition 1. I will be sure to ask all my American friends to consider supporting your cause. Just remember to watch out for the usual right wing homophobic character assassination and scare tactics. That always seems to be the default position of the religious right in relation to this type of issue.

  15. 15
    truthspeaker

    “People who support marriage equality are gearing up — have been gearing up for some time — to defeat Prop. 1.”
    In that case you’re already doing a better job than activists in California!
    Slogan suggestions:
    Defend Freedom. Vote No on Prop. 1
    Defend Love. Vote No on Prop. 1

  16. 16
    Nominous

    “Greta, perhaps as a trusted figure you could accept donations from outside-the-US citizens and contribute that towards the campaign? I have no idea if that is legal, if it’s not, obviously ignore this idea!”
    Seems kind of unethical. Anyway, it would be much better if there weren’t good reasons for the decision to be challenged if we win.

  17. 17
    ko shin, Bob Hanson

    thanks good article, will help support in some way. It is interesting that one Xian group, ELCA has moved ahead on this…I know this is not your cup of tea but it all helps…keep sharing, love your take on spiritualty…makes me think,,,peace ko shin Bob hanson

  18. 18
    Scott Kratz

    Yeah, the far right jacks off all over that kind of shit. Actual conservatives are against government recognized marriage. A private contract can be written between the two people instead and it keeps the government uninvolved in a ceremony that is usually religious and really isn’t benefited much by government involvement.
    To illustrate, some family friends I know who have less than average incomes (one owns the american franchise to a webmarketing program, the other works overseas in consulting) are ‘married’ had a reception, everything, but refused to get a marriage license because of some list of reasons that doesnt make much sense to me but I dont make hundreds o’ grand a year so maybe its only helpful at higher tax brackets to avoid the marriage license. Still I think the best answer is to say no to ALL government recognized marriage.

  19. 19
    No More Mr. Nice Guy!

    “In the U.S., same-sex marriage has never, ever won at the ballot box. Ever.”
    Actually, an anti-same-sex-marriage propostion was defeated in Arizona in 2006. Unfortunately it passed in 2008.

  20. 20
    Immunologist

    Why can’t federal contractors contribute as private citizens? While there is much that I’m restricted from doing that is associated with my federal customer, its usually on their dime, with their equipment, or from their addresses (or my corporate one). That being said, this restriction seems a bit beyond what I’d consider to be a reasonable. What is the rationale here?

  21. 21
    JL

    @Anonymous: Donating money that someone who can’t donate has given to you for that purpose is illegal. It’s one of the things that they make you check off that you didn’t do.
    I just gave some money. Maybe I will see about doing data entry or something for MassEquality as well – I think they’re working with the Mainers.

  22. 22
    Dez

    Thanks for this important article. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get pro-gay heterosexual people like myself involved with this. In a phone bank, it’s important if a caller can quell misguided fears with, “I’m a heterosexual mother of three and I support this.” Many non-reactionary people are easily misguided by false information, and many non-reactionary heterosexuals simply see gay issues as something that doesn’t affect them personally, so why should they care? Another heterosexual on the phone or at the door who frames it as a civil rights issue affecting everyone, rather than a gay rights issue on its own, can go a long way. I’ve been there in enough conversations to know this helps de-fuse things.

  23. 23
    Noadi

    Thanks so much for this article. Can I give you a little advice?
    Be careful with the out of state sources of funds. Not for any legal reason but a lot of Mainers have this kneejerk reaction to out of state interests and the opposition will use that if it can.
    I’m sure they’re getting backing from out of state sources too. If they try to use that tactic fling it right back at them.
    You also have a number of clergy from liberal denominations on your side that backed the bill in the legislature, use them. Put them in the TV ads saying that not everyone believes god hates gays, it will make an impact.

  24. 24
    ninthdayexposure

    Thanks for the post! Just yesterday I was talking to a really good friend of mine who didn’t think we should put our efforts into marriage equality because “the government shouldn’t be in the business of recognizing a religious concept like marriage”. Even queers have to be convinced that this is a battle worth fighting. Anyway, yesterday I changed her mind, and today I donated.

  25. 25
    Heidi

    I just gave some money. Maybe I will see about doing data entry or something for MassEquality as well – I think they’re working with the Mainers.
    Really? I’m in Massachusetts. I’ll have to look into it.

  26. 26
    Leon

    You know, Greta, what I can’t help thinking about on this issue is what you’ve mentioned about how atheist groups fight eagerly for the gay rights groups, whereas they can hardly be pressed to even acknowledge us.
    It’s hard to get motivated to help out on this issue any longer, knowing that if we win, they’ll have a big celebratory announcement where they thank all the people of faith who made it happen and conveniently forget the help they received from the atheist community.

  27. 27
    Greta Christina

    Leon: I have two replies to that. One is more pragmatic and Machiavellian: if atheists continue to work and speak visibly for LGBT issues, the LGBT community will start recognizing us. It’s just going to take time.
    The second is more idealistic: This is the right thing to do. It’s not about recognition for atheists. It’s about fairness and equality. Good people do the right thing, even when we don’t get recognized for it.
    Plus: The Christian right really, really wants to win this one. As atheists, we don’t want to let the Christian right win yet another round of putting their religious bigotry into law.
    Finally: There are a lot of queer atheists in the world. Do it for us.

  28. 28
    Greta Christina

    Be careful with the out of state sources of funds. Not for any legal reason but a lot of Mainers have this kneejerk reaction to out of state interests and the opposition will use that if it can.

    Noadi: The problem with that argument is that the Yes on 1 campaign is also going to be getting lots of out- of- state funding. The Christian Right is raising the alarm on this, too. So the No on 1 campaign really needs out of state money to counter that: otherwise, they’re going to be seriously outgunned. And any negative associations with out of state funding will be mitigated by the fact that our opponents are also funded from out of state.
    And yes — the No on 1 organization is already on it with the pro-gay clergy.

  29. 29
    Leon

    Thanks for replying, Greta. Those are all good points–not that I didn’t know them already, but it’s good to get a reminder now and then.
    It does tick me off, though, that a group we go out of our way to help seems to go out of its way to snub us out of plain political expedience.

  30. 30
    Max

    Splendid article, Greta. The only time I’ve ever solicited contributions on my blog was for this cause – it’s that important. You’re correct when you say “this fight is different from all other fights.” No ifs ands or butts – we HAVE to win this one.

  31. 31
    JL

    @Heidi (and any other Massholes reading this):
    Here’s the MassEquality volunteer schedule, which includes Maine canvasses and phonebanks pretty much every weekend. In addition, while they don’t advertise it on that schedule, they usually need data entry people, to process all the data that the phonebankers and canvassers gather.
    I did a few of their Califoria phonebanks during the Prop 8 fight, and they’re nice to their volunteers. Also, if you speak languages other than English, sometimes they need phonebankers to call back non-English speakers.

  32. 32
    catbasket

    As a non-blogging Brit I can’t do much to help, but I’ve added a link to Protect Maine Equality on my JREF forum sig.

  33. 33
    Patriot

    If you want to fight this politically rather than let constituents express their own will on gay marriage, you’re in effect admitting that the majority doesn’t want gay marriages.
    Why are you trying to force gay marriages on us, then? To piss conservatives off? Very mature. To show how supportive and tolerant you are? Then support our troops, they aren’t getting much of that recently – and, unlike gays, they’re doing something for this country.

  34. 34
    Indigo

    Patriot – I do hope you’re going to conservative blogs where the bloggers are urging people to defend “family values” and telling them that “fight[ing] this politically” is interfering with democracy. Otherwise you’d be a big ol’ hypocrite, wouldn’t you?
    (Oh, and by the by, Greta is married to a woman. So actually, her reasons are a bit less abstract than wanting to seem supportive and tolerant – which you make sound like a bad thing.)

  35. 35
    Greta Christina

    Well, I doubt that “Patriot” is going to come back. But for the benefit of anyone else reading this:
    First: I don’t know what you mean by “fighting this politically.” A ballot initiative, i.e. letting people express their will, is a political fight. And I’m advocating that people get involved in it. I don’t know whether the majority in Maine supports same-sex marriage or not. That’s what we’re going to find out in November. Are you advocating that we not campaign in that election? If so… would you advocate the same for the Yes on 1 campaigners? Would you say that campaigning to stop same-sex marriage is, in effect, admitting that the majority does want it?
    Second: As it happens, while I am passionate about democracy, I do think that there are some basic rights that it should not be possible to take away by majority rule. That’s one of the most important reasons for a Constitution: it protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority. (If we’d waited for a majority vote to legalize interracial marriage around the country, we would have waited a very long time.) And I would argue that marriage between consenting adults is one of those rights. if you want to debate that point, fine… but don’t just say “the majority wants this.” When it comes to denying basic human rights, that’s a terrible argument.
    Third: Nobody is “forcing” same-sex marriage on anybody. You are free to marry anybody you like. Why is it that you see same-sex marriage advocates as “forcing” their views on others… but you don’t see same-sex marriage opponents the same way? Opponents are the ones trying to stop me and my partner from having access to the same rights and responsibilities that every other married couple in the world has. How is that not “forcing” your views on us? And do you think the Supreme Court decision legalizing interracial marriage around the country was “forcing” their views on people who didn’t agree?
    Fourth: The reason I support same-sex marriage is not “to piss off conservatives.” That’s a remarkably self-involved and shallow way of looking at this issue. I support same-sex marriage because I want my partnership with Ingrid to be recognized around the country and around the world. I want the same legal rights and responsibilities that every other loving committed couple is entitled to. And I support same-sex marriage because I support the principles of fairness and equality.
    Fifth: What am I doing for the troops? Mostly, I’m fighting for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell — which would help all troops, not just gay ones. Our government loves to talk about supporting the troops, and yet is willing to kick out able-bodied, able- minded soldiers with vital skills simply because they’re gay. How does kicking Arab translators out of the Army do anything other than hurt the troops? (I’m also voting for representatives who support strong veteran care, a renewed G.I. bill, and keeping us out of pointless wars that maim and kill soldiers for no good reason.)
    Finally: Gays haven’t done anything for this country? Are you kidding? What about James Baldwin? Bayard Rustin? Cole Porter? Walt Whitman? Alan Turing? (Not an American… but his contributions to WWII helped the US immeasurably.) George Cukor? Stephen Foster? Will Geer? Leonard Bernstein? John Cage? Sophie Hawkins? Patricia Highsmith? Truman Capote? Audre Lorde? Stephen Sondheim? Graham Chapman? (Again, not American… but what would American life have been without him?) Robert Rauschenberg? Robert Reed? David Sedaris? Tennessee Williams? Little Richard?
    And those are just a small handful of the really famous ones: not the gay scientists, the gay doctors, the gay engineers, the gay plumbers, the gay farmers, the gay business owners, the gay mail carriers… I could go on and on. Gay people have been contributing to the country for decades and centuries. The fact that you would even try to make this argument proves conclusively just how weak and laughably pathetic your point is.

  36. 36
    video izle

    Thanks a lot. Good idea.

  37. 37
    Randy

    of 18k gay marriages in the State of California half were to out of State residents.
    18k / 2 = 9k x 2 = 18,000 citizens
    18k / 38 million citizens = .0475%
    So less then 1/2 of 1/10 of 1% of the population of California took part in your grand scheme to sale your immorality as the new morality.
    “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are CREATED equal ENDOWED by their CREATOR…”
    If you were not CREATED then you are not equal and if you do not believe in the CREATOR then you can not lay claim to the unalienable rights that belong to those of us who do.
    New definition for the word Hypocrite: See Homosexual
    You perverts demand access to the water but you are offended by the faucet – pure stupidity.
    Homosexuals and their supporters hold their collective ignorance in high regards.

  38. 38
    Greta Christina

    Randy: Go fuck yourself.

  39. 39
    Eclectic

    Randy: Noble words. And while they are part of U.S. history, they are not part of U.S. law; the Declaration of Independence is a statement of intent, which was superseded by the constitution.
    The logic leaves the rails in the middle, however. It says that the authors believe that all men were created and have certain rights; it doesn’t have any provision for exceptions for those who disagree.

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