Survey: Majority
of Maine residents support gay rights

Three out of five
Mainers would vote to uphold the state's new gay rights
law in a November referendum that seeks to overturn it,
according to a statewide survey released Thursday. The
Strategic Marketing Services poll found that 61% of
those surveyed would vote to uphold the law or are
leaning toward keeping it. About 28% said they would vote to
reject the law or are leaning that way, with 11%

The survey is a
snapshot of likely voters' opinions and doesn't purport
to predict the election's outcome, said Patrick Murphy,
president of Strategic Marketing Services. The results
are likely to change depending on the success of each
side's arguments, media coverage, voter scrutiny, and
other factors. "This election will come down to which of the
campaigns is most successful at getting out its core
supporters," he said.

The quarterly
poll on a variety of issues, which has a margin of error of
plus or minus five percentage points, was based on telephone
interviews with 400 randomly selected adults from July
23 to July 30. The gay rights issue was the only
survey question pertaining to November's election. A
conservative alliance led by the Christian Civic League of
Maine ran a successful petition drive to get a
question on the ballot asking voters if they want to
reject gay rights legislation that was signed into law in
March. The law expands the Maine Human Rights Act to make
discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal in
employment, housing, credit, public accommodations,
and education.

Tim Russell,
spokesman for the Christian Civic League, said surveys are
often unreliable. Polls leading up to a 2000 referendum were
wrong in suggesting that voters would ratify the
legislature's approval of a gay rights bill, he said.
"We feel that once Maine citizens understand this is
really about same-sex marriage, the numbers will change
drastically," he said.

Jesse Connolly,
campaign manager for Maine Won't Discriminate, said the
survey is all well and good but that organizing a statewide
campaign to keep the law in place is more important
than poll numbers. Maine Won't Discriminate says the
issue is about civil rights protections, not same-sex
marriage. "Maine Won't Discriminate's only concern is
the poll that takes place on Election Day," Connolly said.

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