All Eyes on Maine
BY Lorri L. Jean
August 05 2009 12:00 AM ET
As LGBT activists discuss how and when to restore the freedom to marry in California, dramatic events are unfolding on the other side of the country that will greatly affect our fight for marriage rights here and ultimately across the rest of America.
In May, when Maine became the fifth state to recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry -- after years of public education efforts and grassroots organizing there -- that great day for social justice was not the end of the story. Just as in California, right-wing forces responded by collecting enough names on petitions to almost certainly qualify for a ballot measure that will ask voters to affirm or reject the civil rights of Maine's gay and lesbian citizens.
Fortunately, LGBT and allied groups began preparing to battle such an initiative many months ago. Through direct contact and conversations with tens of thousands of voters, they have already identified more than a quarter of the votes needed to win on November 3. Though the opposition is expected to be as fierce and unprincipled as usual, our seasoned and battle-tested friends in Maine believe they have the organization, experience, and momentum to build to victory this fall.
But, in the midst of all that besets us here in California, what does this seemingly far-away fight in Maine have to do with the freedom to marry in Los Angeles or Bakersfield or Redding?
The organizations that are subsidizing the current antigay effort in Maine are most of the same groups that were at the forefront of Yes on 8. They've even hired Frank Schubert to run their campaign -- the same political operative who ran their shameful California effort (and the same groups who will be leading the opposition to our initiative, whenever it happens).
Quite rightly, they see this as a national battle, to which they are applying national resources.
And so must we.