Maine Moves Into High Gear
BY Kerry Eleveld
August 11 2009 12:00 AM ET
Connolly took a leave of absence from his job as chief of staff for Maine's speaker of the house, Hannah Pingree, in order to run the No on 1 campaign. His commitment to LGBT concerns run deep.
"Jesse's dad, State representative Larry Connolly, cosponsored the first piece of legislation for gay rights way back in 1977, long before anyone else thought we were worthy," wrote native Mainer Joe Sudbay at Americablog.com. "Larry died way too young in 1995 and Jesse is continuing his legacy."
Opponents of Maine's same-sex marriage law have the upper hand financially thus far, raising more than $343,000 compared to No on 1's $143,000, according to mid-July filings with the State Ethics Commission.
Four groups account for $341,000 of the $343,000 anti-gay marriage funds: the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage contributed $160,000; the Roman Catholic diocese of Portland anted up $100,000; the Knights of Columbus chipped in $50,000, and Focus on the Family Maine added $31,000. But the Stand for Marriage PAC has also spent a little over $293,000 to date, much of it on professional signature-gathering companies.
Marriage equality proponents had a total of 501 donors, according to a campaign spokesman, with the largest donation of $50,000 coming from Maine resident Diane Sammer, $25,000 from the Human Rights Campaign, $10,000 from the American Civil Liberties Union, and $10,000 from another state resident Jane Begert. An HRC spokesperson said the organization plans to chip in an additional $100,000 over the next couple months.
No on 1 finance director Andy Szekeres, who served as chief fund-raiser for Colorado representative Jared Polis, says people are a little fatigued coming on the heels of the Prop. 8 campaign.
"But all roads for marriage are running through Maine right now," he says. "If we want to make a statement to advance the gay rights movement forward across the country, Maine is a good place to start."