Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Battles for Maine and Washington

In May the Maine legislature passed, and Governor Baldacci signed, a measure legalizing gay marriage in Maine. Opponents of same-sex marriage then launched a campaign to overturn the law based upon Maine’s People’s Veto process and we were off to the races.

The battle in Maine is roughly the equivalent of hand to hand combat. It’s a small closely knit state where personal relationships are paramount. I suspect there is more than a little annoyance with outsiders, on both sides, trying to tell them their business.

I’ve dutifully extended my support to the “No on 1” folks monetarily. I’m not going to personally campaign in Maine because I’m one of those outsiders.

I’m much more impressed with the list of people and organizations opposing the veto of the gay marriage law than I am with those supporting the veto and the governor, the legislature and the major newspapers in Maine all support the “No on 1” position.

The same anti-same-sex marriage folks that led the charge on Prop 8 in California are involved in Maine and they’re using the same sort of scare tactics. Despite loud protestations by everyone from the governor to the school custodial staff that it’s total nonsense, the “Yes on 1” crowd continues to pitch that somehow this will mean the indoctrination of school children as young as Kindergarten into the acceptance of the gay lifestyle.

Obviously this is a big one. A victory here would mark the first time an electorate has approved gay marriage. As usual the poll results are mixed and close. The key is probably going to be the ability to get out the vote.

In the meantime the State of Washington is fighting over domestic partnerships with gay marriage opponents attempting to overturn SB 5688 which grants equal marriage rights to gays through domestic partnerships. The ballot item there is called R-71.

This is one step behind Maine. In Washington the bigots are claiming domestic partnerships are going to cause devastating problems which hasn’t been the case anywhere else.

The zeitgeist never stands still. Either you push it forward toward the light or someone will be trying to push it back toward the dark ages.

Again the poll results are sort of mixed but appear to be leaning in the direction of accepting SB5688 and domestic partnerships. The problem is there appears to be a large number of people who are still undecided.

Wins in both Maine and Washington would be great. A win in Maine especially might free up what appear to be stalled initiatives in New York and New Jersey. It might also add momentum to the repeal of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act although, hopefully, that will occur in any event.

Victory is certain. The only questions are how long will it take and what will be the cost? Winning in Maine and Washington this Election Day would go a long way toward reducing both the time and the cost.

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