Four volunteer firefighters, three straight and one gay, talk about their bond and how that drives each of them to support marriage equality in a new ad for Mainers United for Marriage, the coalition working to pass a referendum to reinstate the law this November.
The 30-second ad, which will begin running on TV in Maine’s three media markets Monday, features volunteer firefighters Andrew Shea, Dave Lorandeau, Eric Humphrey and Ryan Michel. The men collectively have more than 30 years experience fighting fires.
"These guys are all straight,” says Michel in the spot. “So when I joined the department, I wondered how a brotherhood so tight like that would be accepting of someone who is gay.”
Shea says, “The brotherhood that we have is not the straight firemen’s brotherhood. It’s the firemen’s brotherhood.”
“If a guy works hard and does his job, I’m not going to judge him and we’re not going to judge him either,” Lorandeau says.
“When we clear a call, I get to go home to my wife,” Humphrey says. “The guys I work with should be able to marry the person they love. We’re voting ‘Yes’ on 1.”
The Maine legislature passed marriage equality legislation in 2009 and then-governor John Baldacci signed the measure, but voters repealed the law in a referendum. This year, marriage equality campaigners have brought the issue for another public vote, marking the first time advocates have initiated a referendum on their own.
Polls released last Thursday show the campaign for Question 1, the formal name of the ballot measure, tightening in the final six weeks, according to the Portland Press Herald. A survey from Public Policy Polling found 52% of likely voters in support, with 44% opposed and 4% undecided. The Maine People’s Resource Center released a poll that showed 53% in support, 43% opposed and 4% undecided on Question 1, which will be on the November 6 ballot. The 2009 repeal measure, which was also known as Question 1, passed 53% to 47%.
Opponents including the National Organization for Marriage have also increased their investment in the campaign at the last minute, as widely expected. The Associated Press reported that NOM directed $250,000 to the Protect Marriage Maine political action committee, which is working to defeat the referendum.
Marriage equality advocates have also focused on the state, where they expect to raise and spend at least $5 million, according to the AP.