But it was actually the telephone calls that told me we were doomed. As the “Yes” folk made their phone calls during the final days, they would allow me to listen in by putting the calls on speaker. One call after another, the person on the other end started off leaning toward voting “no.”
“I just want to do the right thing,” said one woman. “I just believe in giving my gay and lesbian neighbors equal rights.”
“Of course you do,” responded the Yes phone banker. “We all do. But you know they have their civil rights. They have all their rights.”
And wouldn’t you know it, seven minutes later, the woman hung up pledging to vote “yes.”
This was an argument that seemed to work. When presented with the “facts” as to how many protections gays and lesbians had and that we really didn’t need marriage to be treated fairly and equally, they were stumped. And in my gut there was a sickening feeling that this could be their silver bullet.
We lost by a seven-point margin, which would suggest there was more than just one factor at play. As I travel around the country showing my film, I am often asked about the lessons Maine can offer, especially this fall when four states (including Maine) are set for marriage referendum battles. And the honest truth is I just don’t know. Or rather, who am I to say?
So, here’s what I do know. Frank Schubert was recently appointed the political director for NOM. His California playbook, imported to Maine then used to his repeated success in North Carolina last May, will likely be employed in every upcoming campaign.
What we can learn from a loss is to see how the other side won. And they won by channeling anger and frustration into something tangible. Aside from that playbook, there’s no magic. Working harder and longer will help gain what is rightfully ours. That’s what I learned from traveling the terrain of Maine and marriage.