MaineOctober

Interview w/NGLTF Exec Dir. Rea Carey and Dir. of Organizing & Training Dan Hawes (part one)

by: Adam Bink

Fri Nov 20, 2009 at 10:00

Cross-posted at The Bilerico Project

I've been writing a lot on what happened in Maine (most recently this piece yesterday in a Los Angeles LGBT magazine), and where our movement should go from here. NGLTF had run much of the field program in Maine, as well as within the No On 8 campaign in California, so I sat down yesterday to do an interview with Rea Carey, the Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, to address some criticisms and her thoughts on the marriage equality movement. We were joined by Dan Hawes, Director of Organizing and Training, who heads up NGLTF's national field operations and ran the field program in Cumberland County, the most populous in the state.

This is part one related to the No On 1 campaign in Maine and the marriage equality movement in general. I'll be posting the second part, related to LGBT rights at the federal level and the performance of the Obama administration.

Among the highlights:

  • Dan commenting that the campaign "could have had a more direct message", "more lengthy conversations at the door with voters", and done more persuasion rather than "just trying to GOTV our supporters"
  • Rea commenting on marriage equality at the ballot box "we simply don't have enough people to win at the ballot box yet"
  • Rea and Dan declining to say whether re-run campaigns in California and Maine could have won, or definitively whether marriage equality is winnable in the short-term
  • Dan defending against criticisms made with respect to the field program in Maine, and praising various aspects of the campaign
  • Rea and Dan arguing that provided there is a plan and the time is right, despite the movement's recent losses and overall record at the ballot box, donors will "step up" to contribute the tens of millions necessary to win a Prop 8 repeal effort in California

Full transcript below the fold.

Q: What did you both think of the No On 1 campaign, the result, and where we go from here?

Dan: I think generally it was a well-run campaign with a disappointing result, where we were unable to build a solid majority who supported marriage equality. Our various polling within the campaign and outside the campaign showed we never started with 50% or more of Mainers who were on our side, but I felt like we could probably look piece-by-piece at the campaign, and there's always things we could do differently. But I felt like folks gave their best effort generally to work to win across the board.

Q: What could be done differently?

Dan: It's clear that we haven't yet built a majority of support for marriage, which is part of the problem- we go into these campaigns trying to build a majority rather than defend a majority at the ballot box which is very different. We need to figure out what message will be effective at moving voters to stand with us on marriage quality, which is a venture across the board on all these campaigns, which stands true in Maine as well.

Rea: I would just add to that, one of the things that's so striking having been in California and Maine and having many years under our belts with these things is this challenge in creating a majority vs. defending it. I was so struck, I went canvassing [Election Day] morning, and spoke with a number of voters including some Yes voters, and a gentleman who told me he had voted Yes, he was very nice, very kind about it, but he had voted Yes, and explained why and it was interesting because he said you know I have gay friends, he was a father of three, I have gay friends who were married in Massachusetts and I just feel I want them to have the protections, but I'm not there yet on voting for marriage.

I think there are unfortunately what we've seen in a number of states with trying different messaging and different tactics- and I agree with Dan that every campaign has some different and something that can be learned from and improved upon- we simply don't have enough people to win at the ballot box yet. I absolutely think we're going to get there. I think if you look at the trajectory over the last twenty years, even in a state like California where we used to be behind by twenty points, now we're behind by about four, the trajectory is moving in the right direction, we're just not there yet.

Q: You both have said that we don't have the number of votes, we're short, which is certainly an important point with regard to the electorate. My question originally, though, was what could be done differently? Or was it a flawless campaign, was it near-flawless?

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Short documentary/reflection on the No On 1 campaign

by: Adam Bink

Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 19:00

It's not comprehensive overview of the campaign, but this is a brief snapshot of what it looked like on the ground in Maine over the final few days of the campaign. New Left Media, run by two nice guys, Chase Whitside and Erick Stoll, put this together.

It hurts a little bit to watch everything go down, but it's also a little inspiring to see couples together and supporters working hard on the ground.

Watch the whole thing, but the final 30 seconds or so of Part Two are especially critically important, in my view.

Part One

Part Two

Jesse Connolly, the campaign manager you saw here thanking us for our support, also has a reflection piece up on HuffPo that I think hits a number of important points.

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Maine Election Results Thread #2

by: Adam Bink

Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 01:16

This will be the final update on this thread

Update 48: This'll be the final update for the night. Things are, to put it plainly, looking slim. We are in a deep hole by several points, at close to 90% reporting, and most of the rest of the votes yet to come in are from Yes areas. The yes votes started to report and dragged our totals down.

The campaign will be evaluating the race tomorrow and possibly after the absentee votes come in.

I don't really have much else to say except this one hurts, in my gut, a lot.

Update 47: The No On 1 campaign manager, Jesse Connolly, just went down with us to the ballroom and announced that the race is too close to call and they are still counting. The counting could continue well into the morning. There will be no concession or declaration of victory, it appears, tonight. Things are extremely tight and no news media so far has called the race either.

I'm going to take a step away from my laptop and will probably post a final update before going to bed tonight.

Update 46: I spoke with Kate Knox, the campaign's legal counsel. Here is how the recount procedure works:

  • The campaign has to wait for certification from the Sec of State, which will happen after all absentee ballots come in. In Maine, there is a no-excuse absentee ballot law and she expects there to be a "significant" number of absentees.

  • The certification takes a maximum of 20 days but is almost always done before then. The campaign has to collect 100 signatures and pay a nominal fee (ranging from a few hundred bucks to $10K but more likely to be a few hundred) depending on how close the vote is.

  • The recount is statewide, all or nothing. Not challenging individual precincts.

  • Based on past experience, the recount will take at least a few weeks and likely longer than that.

Update 45: The campaign is now directing staff to call town clerks to get final numbers in and look at our expected numbers there versus what they're reporting. A lot of this leads up to a potential recount if the numbers are way off, but there are still a lot of numbers waiting to come in.

Update 44: Based on what we have and what other news outlets are reporting, now over 60% of precincts are in, including a lot of more rural places, and it's looking like 51-49% against us.

Update 43: After talking with some people here, based on projections from the campaign and looking at the rural numbers starting to trickle in, there is a very, very good chance of a recount, and we're making preparations for that.

Update 42: In Westbrook, a suburb of Portland immediately west, we won 55-45%. It's a big mill town.

Update 41: Let me emphasize for those who are seeing numbers elsewhere- we're at 57% after our more base targets that have nearly all come in- not overall. Overall I can't talk about in detail but they are better for us than 50/50. The rural numbers are starting to come in, though.

Update 40: Places like Brewer went against us, 42-58%- those numbers are starting to come in and pull us down.

Update 39: WMTW-8 TV is reporting 24% of precincts in and deadlocked at 50-50%, 65,452 No, 64,467 Yes. We believe those don't include the Portland absentees yet though, and they lag behind our reporting numbers.

Update 38: TABOR was also on the ballot, and it went down to defeat. Great news.

Update 37: Lull in reporting. For earlier numbers from the night from my first thread, click here.

Update 36: I now have city of Portland absentee numbers: 6,291 No to 1,762 Yes. That's 78%-22% for us. That's freaking incredibly good. That moves the overall city of Portland numbers to 73%-27% for us.

Update 35: We won Auburn 51.5-48.5%! That's part of the Lewiston-Auburn metro area, heavily Catholic. Vastly different than Lewiston which we lost 60-40%.

Update 34: General update- most of our base vote cities/towns are in, and we're at 57% overall in our targets. It's a good number. We're waiting for more rural parts of the state e.g. Region 4 to come in and a little of 3. See my earlier thread for an explanation of the Regions.

Update 33: OVERALL numbers in so far: 57% No, 43% Yes.

Update 32: Won the town of Waterville 54-46%. It's 15 minute north of Augusta.

Update 31: York, ME, one of our base vote places, is 63-37%- very good.

Update 30: We won the town of Gorham, 64-36%, which is great news.

Update 29: Some video from the stage at the party downstairs- Jesse Connolly, Rep. Chellie Pingree, Gov. Baldacci, Maine House Speaker Hannah Pingree, Senate President Libby Mitchell. Go here to view.

Update 28: Final % in from the city of Portland itself, largest city in the state and a heavy base vote area- No 71%, Yes 29%, without absentees.

Update 27: We lost the state capitol of Augusta, 47-53%. Not good.

Update 26: I can't write overall aggregate numbers, but we are doing well. There are 82 precincts in overall, and we are looking at key areas to be able to project.

Update 25: We won the city of South Portland 64-36%!

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Maine Election Results Thread

by: Adam Bink

Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 21:28

Update 24: I'm going to start a new update thread and put some of the ones from earlier in the night in the extended entry in this thread.

Update 23: We won Bangor, 54-46%, third largest city in Maine.

Update 22: Campaign manager Jesse Connolly is live now on Maddow (9:19 PM).

Update 21: Let me do an overall roundup- we are getting the base vote numbers in that we need from Portland, its suburbs, and the college areas of Orono and Farmington. Bad news so far is losing Lewiston 60-40%, but not horrible. Still waiting on a lot of Region 1 precincts- where our other base votes are- and rural areas.

Update 20: State Representative Mike Casey, who represents downtown Lewiston, just sent me final total numbers- we lost 60-40%. The final reporting turned the tide. Again, that's a heavily Catholic area, but the percentages aren't great.

Update 19: Final numbers are in from UM-Orono campus- 81% No, 19% yes. In town of Orono itself, we won 73-27%.

Update 18: We won Kennebunkport, home of the Bushes, 61-39%.

Update 17: We won Bar Harbor, a town in "downeast" Maine- very small coastal town- 71-29%!

Update 16: We won Yarmouth, another suburb north of here, 66-34%.

Update 15: A huge cheer just went up in the room- we won Brunswick, a coastal town 20 minutes north of Portland with Bowdoin College in it, 63-37%. What we're looking for.

Update 14: Marc Mutty is live on the local news talking about the silent majority coming out. Right.

Update 13: I just took a look at all the final numbers in from every Portland precinct. Portland is the largest city in the state. We're winning each precinct by a touchdown or two. Portland is the uber-base of base precincts in the state, and we needed to do huge there, and we have. Mid-70s and mid-80s in terms of % No votes which is great in many places.

This is a thread for election results from Maine. I will be updating this thread from the boiler room headquarters as numbers come in. You can also follow updates on my Twitter feed. The earlier updates from the night are in the extended entry.

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Making History

by: Adam Bink

Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 10:00

Update (12:08 PM): I just saw Secretary of State Matt Dunlap go on WCSH-6 in Portland- he said this morning he expects turnout to be about 35%. Now he says (I'm paraphrasing from my notes) that turnout may well exceed 50% and hit our 2003 off-year record of 50.9%, which bodes well for the No On 1 side, as that means a broader demographic including young people are coming out to vote, although it depends on rural turnout. Good news, but we still have work to do.

Woke up with morning GOTV canvassers knocking on the door of the place where I'm staying in Portland. Great start to the day.

Today's the day we see if it all pays off. We're 0/30 in statewide marriage votes all-time. The only time we've won was Arizona 2006, which was later repealed in 2008. This campaign has been well-executed, and today we leave it all on the field.

Tonight I'll be live-blogging the results from the boiler room here in Portland. You can also follow results via my Twitter feed.

There is one last thing you can do. GOTV from home. The campaign has a Call for Equality tool for virtual phonebanking. Few hours of your time. They have shifts today from 11-1 AM EST, 1-3, 3-5, and 5-8. Sign up here.

I can't reiterate enough how razor-tight things are. Even though things feel good, it can all come apart. I was asked about our chances on the radio last night, and I have to repeat one thing: if turnout is like a normal election off-year, we lose. That means if voters age 18-29 turnout drops through the floor as usual in an off-year election (nothing else on the ballot but a few other ballot measures), and everything else remains constant, we're going down. The Secretary of State today predicted 35% turnout. Weather is clear, low 50s/high 40s all day across the whole state. There's potential to boost our numbers. We have to execute a flawless field program and boost our overall supporter votes through the frickin' roof.

So if you have some time today, Call for Equality. It's the last, and best, thing you can do to win this in Maine.

If we win, Maine will become the first state in the country to pass marriage equality legislation, have it signed by the governor, and then upheld by the people in a vote. It will make history. Help us get our voters to the polls. Let's go.

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Thanks. Again.

by: Adam Bink

Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 17:57

So I've spent the whole day in the No On 1 campaign boiler room. Today we raised close to $70,000 from 1,200 people. Which is stunning. I asked you guys for help this morning, when we saw our opponents did a big 'raiser to air their new radio ad and who knows what else. You just absolutely blew away our expectations, and we think based on past fundraising they've done online, blew their 'raiser out of the water.

Jesse Connolly, the No On 1 campaign manager, just walked back in the office on his way back from the bank. He saw the ActBlue total on my screen and literally grabbed my Flipcam.

My sentiments exactly. I've been writing about this campaign for months, asked you for a lot, and you've given over $7,000 at our OpenLeft/Better Dems page, and now this. I'm a little mentally wiped and don't have much eloquent to say except thanks. Again.

If you want the latest from on the boiler room here, tonight I'll be on The Young Turks at 8:40 PM EST (listen on Sirius 109, XM 98) and then on Live From the Left Coast with Angie Coiro (if you're not on the left coast, click here to listen).

Looking forward to bringing home a win tomorrow for you guys.

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Update from Maine

by: Adam Bink

Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 11:00

Update: We broke through $50,000. Amazing. THANK YOU! Can you help get to $70K?

So I'm back on the ground in Maine helping the online team. Things are a little intense, so a few quick bullet points:

  • The latest polling from Public Policy Polling came out at midnight, showing us down 51-47%. Their methodology has a few problems with it, but they've consistently shown our opponents trending upward.

  • The field team is firing on all cylinders. Biggest concern is youth turnout in off-year. In 2005, an anti-discrimination ballot initiative went our way and we had one campus field organizer for the whole state. This year we have nine. But the numbers are tight as hell, and if turnout is like a normal election year, we'll lose. Everyone is saying we have to execute a flawless program.

  • A fun chunk of the progressive and LGBT blogosphere has come to Maine for the final push. John and Joe from AMERICABlog are both here, Julia Rosen from Courage/Calitics/C&L, Jeremy Hooper from Good As You, a number of others. We're all spread out in field, online, video.

  • Our opponents just pushed out a $25,000 fundraising push yesterday and used it to buy this radio ad that just came out:

    They also jumped their online ad buy (it's really fun being here in Maine and now ads are geo-targeted to me, so I see them a lot more).

    The campaign needs to increase its own buy to respond, but we need to raise to do it- we've put a lot of money into field. We put up a red alert this morning. $15,000 has come in the last hour. The campaign is calling it a "red alert" because we literally could be swamped on radio, online, and TV today and tomorrow- and as I wrote here, their last two ads are the most effective of the cycle. $25,000 buys a LOT of time in Maine.

    If you could give just one more time for the campaign, it would go a very, very long way. Tomorrow is the big day. Thanks for this one last bit of help.

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Connecting Maine to DC

by: Adam Bink

Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 14:00

I just got back from Maine, where I was blogging on the ground with the No On 1 campaign, and exploring some of the contours around marriage equality in the state. It was an extremely interesting experience, and we also got a lot done on the ground. Thanks again to those of you who contributed to send me to Maine, and I hope you liked the coverage. If you missed my posts on the ground, you can find them all by clicking here.

Today's my first day back in DC, and it's also the first day of the DC Council hearings on the legislation to legalize marriage equality. For a little background on the legislation and its chances, click here. I'll be testifying this afternoon (you can watch it starting at 3:30 PM EST live streaming here, and follow #DC4M on Twitter for updates from myself and others).

I talked a lot with key players in Maine around the legislative push in their own state (I'll be writing more on that soon). One of the biggest moments was their own public hearing. Expected attendance grew so large that they had to move it to the convention center in Augusta. 4,000 people ultimately attended- an incredible number. Our side outnumbered opponents 3-1, and we asked supporters to wear red to be easily identifiable. It was cited by many I spoke to as a big moment in helping wavering legislators see the outpouring of support throughout the state- particularly when moving testimony came out, like that of Phillip Spooner, whose video now has over 500,000 views on YouTube.

Here in DC, we've turned out a record 269 people to give supportive testimony as well (we expect, as in Maine, the overwhelming majority to be in support), and will also be wearing red. I'll be talking about some of the striking similarities of Maine to DC, as well. We're applying a lot of the lessons that were learned up there to our legislative situation down here, and hopefully we'll be equally successful. More to come.

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The Bishop vs. The Grassroots

by: Adam Bink

Thu Oct 22, 2009 at 10:15

This is part of a series of on-the-ground coverage with the No On 1 campaign in Maine, generously funded in part by you and with the support of the New Organizing Institute's National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative. For other posts in this series, click here.

Since I've arrived in Maine, I've spent a good deal of time exploring people of faith, their reaction to same-sex marriage, and involvement in the No on 1 campaign. I wrote previously about Bishop Gene Robinson and his framing of religion and same-sex marriage here, and about supportive religious communities here.

Today I want to talk about the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese here, his involvement in the issue- which has become something of a flashpoint here in Maine- and the backlash and response to it in the grassroots.

Full story on the flip.

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Plugging Infrastructure Gaps

by: Adam Bink

Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 19:00

This is part of a series of on-the-ground coverage with the No On 1 campaign in Maine, generously funded in part by you and with the support of the New Organizing Institute's National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative. For other posts in this series, click here.

Back in college, I did a lot of organizing around the 2004 Presidential election. In particular, I organized large out-of-state canvass trips to Pennsylvania and Ohio for America Coming Together. The logistical barriers were enormous in terms of cars, class schedules, and so forth, but none as large as money.

At the University of Rochester, like many colleges, everything revolved around "Flex" money, which was money you or your parents/guardians put on your ID card. Flex purchased you anything from textbooks to food to concert tickets on campus. It was frequently the only kind of currency any student had. We set up tables to sell anti-Bush merchandise to raise money for our trips, and the first question out of students' mouths were whether we accepted Flex or not. If not, the population to which we could sell literally plummeted.

Because political travel out of state wasn't a U of R-sanctioned activity, we could not raise money for our trips via Flex. Students did not have checkbooks, many did not have credit cards. Many had parents willing to donate online, but we had no place to accept such a donation. Sending checks in the mail took time. I'm not even sure if PayPal was around then, but it was unheard of. Fundraising was an enormous barrier.

I'm writing about all of this because ActBlue, partnering with TravelForChange.org (the organization that helped Obama volunteers travel to swing states last year), has a new tool that allows you to create a personal fundraising page to cover your travel expenses to Maine. This may seem simple, but I actually consider it an amazing leap forward. Much of the population willing to travel are young people, particularly college students willing to miss a week of class, and more spontaneous (no children, fewer hard commitments, etc.) In my organizing experience, young people have the most willingness to go, but the fewest resources in terms of finances to support travel. This helps break down that barrier. And it's not just for young people. You can set up a page and blast it around to friends, family, etc, utilizing Facebook and other means we didn't have five years ago. TFC.org cuts you a check, and that's that. No questions asked. Spend it on gas, food, interstate tolls, any other travel expenses. You can also do a joint page with friends if you want to carpool.

Here's Shai Sachs (of MyDD fame) and Ben Gonzalez, both of whom came up to volunteer. Ben explains how he used TFC/ActBlue to raise money to support his travel here from Southern California.

Talking with campaign staff here, the biggest need we have for the remainder of the campaign is volunteers. The polls are still tight. We're two weeks out today. If you're up for coming to Maine, but need a little financial help, get in touch with either myself (adambink at gmail dot com) or fill out the form here to get started.

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Stand For Marriage Maine FAIL

by: Adam Bink

Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 16:15

This is part of a series of on-the-ground coverage with the No On 1 campaign in Maine, generously funded in part by you and with the support of the New Organizing Institute's National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative. For other posts in this series, click here.

Last last night I heard that Stand For Marriage Maine's latest ads was pulled on YouTube due to an NPR copyright violation. In the ad, the actress (if you can call her that, as she's awful) used an NPR clip, albeit with attribution.

Today, NPR issued a cease-and-desist notice to YouTube, SFMM, and the ad agency that produced the ad.

National Public Radio is demanding that the Stand for Marriage Maine group stop using its content in television ads supporting a people's veto of a new same-sex marriage law.

[...]

"NPR did not license use of this story or its content, and would certainly not have licensed or permitted it if we had been asked," Rehm said in a statement. "NPR is a highly respected news organization and does not allow its content to be used by political or advocacy groups. Such use is harmful to the integrity and independence of NPR. NPR does allow - even encourage -- personal, non-commercial use of our content, so long as it is not modified, and not used in a manner that suggests NPR promotes or endorses a cause, idea, Web site, product or service. The use made by Stand for Marriage Maine violated all of these terms."

What is interesting to me is how NPR seems to stand out alone among news media in this regard- campaign attack ads use clips of opponents in debates, forums, etc. all the time. Even presidential campaigns do, and I don't hear about protests from the news media that aired the clip. And I'm a little wary of the restriction- if I did an interview to promote my new website on NPR, I can't use the clip in promotional activities?

It does all add up to a nice waste of money by SFMM, though. Whoops.

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Hitting Them Senseless

by: Adam Bink

Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 14:00

Update: Marc Mutty, who runs the Stand For Marriage Maine campaign (our opponents), said today on Maine Public Broadcasting Network "We've never said that schools will be mandated- or, actually, perhaps we did in one ad, or certainly led people to believe that, inadvertently." Wow.

This is part of a series of on-the-ground coverage with the No On 1 campaign in Maine, generously funded in part by you and with the support of the New Organizing Institute's National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative. For other posts in this series, click here.

The Yes On 1 campaign has gone more or less all on one message: that a change in Maine law would force local schools to teach marriage equality. It's been the focus of their last three advertisements and mentioned in a fourth. It's been debunked by all of the state's largest newspapers, the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, the Maine Department of Education, a coalition of former attorneys general and law experts, and most recently by the current Maine Attorney General. 61.6% of likely voters in last week's poll said they didn't believe the line.

Today I went to a press conference where Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree (the daughter of Rep. Chellie Pingree) and former Attorney General Jim Tierney spoke about the lies in the ads and Yes On 1's attacks on the current Maine Attorney General for her opinion.

Part 2 (Q&A):

And here's the new ad just released today:

It will be interesting to see if our opponents concentrate everything on this message through election day. Our side is hitting them senseless on the issue, and the over $1.15 million you chipped in last week helped put this ad on the air.

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Religious People Aren't Always Who You Think They Are

by: Adam Bink

Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 10:30

This is part of a series of on-the-ground coverage with the No On 1 campaign in Maine, generously funded in part by you and with the support of the New Organizing Institute's National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative. For other posts in this series, click here.

Since I've arrived here in Maine, I've been intrigued at the element of religion in the debate, religious activism around marriage equality. Earlier this month, Nate Silver calculated that support a marriage ban rises on a one-to-one level with religiosity in a state. Maine is the third-least religious state in the Nation, according to Gallup, so he argued that bodes well for our prospects.

I don't doubt the statistical analysis, but what I think is being missed is the element in which people of faith mobilize to support marriage equality.

On Thursday, I went to a packed-to-the-walls talk by Bishop Gene Robinson in the Cathedral of St. Luke's here in Portland, where he spoke movingly about Question 1. Yesterday, I went to a large march that concluded with a several-hundred person rally in a Unitarian Universalist Church in the afternoon (this is on a Sunday afternoon in the rain in seemingly a Patriots-rabid area).


What amazed me was the degree to which people of every faith had turned out for this campaign. Nearly every religious creed was represented. I spoke with a number of people at the rally who self-identified as regular worshipers and people of faith- those would respond affirmatively to the Gallup question. But they were not only against Question 1, they were activists.

I talked with Pastor Stephen Carnahan of The Open House United Church of Christ in Portland, who MC'ed the rally:

The United Church of Christ of which I'm a part, and the Unitarian Universalist churches, we've been out on front of this issue for some time, so there's been a groundswell of support among progressive Christians in the Maine community... the Catholic Church and some of the conservative Protestant chruches, progressive Protestants on the other. There are a LOT of progressive Protestants in this area, though, so it's been a large and growing number... I don't think we're any less spiritual than any others.

He went on to mention how approximately 140 ministers had went to testify on marriage equality at the state legislative hearing, the congregation has done phone banking, and so forth. This, I think is something that's being missed in analyses like Nate's.

It really is heartening to see this, because in many places, there's prevalent assumption that if it's religious, it must not bode well for LGBT people. I have a lot of friends who feel this way, and I personally have a reflexive antipathy towards religion until I went to the famous Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, an incredibly community of volunteering and welcoming towards all people of all walks of life, but where members of the congregation were just as religious as any other. That congregation, and the ones in Maine I saw gathered on Thursday and today, prove the assumption wrong.

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Editorials Abound

by: Adam Bink

Sun Oct 18, 2009 at 21:00

This is part of a series of on-the-ground coverage with the No On 1 campaign in Maine, generously funded in part by you and with the support of the New Organizing Institute's National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative. For other posts in this series, click here.

The buzz on the ground today is that the Bangor Daily News- a usually fairly conservative paper- said No on 1. Bangor is the 2nd-largest city in the state, with 34,000 people, and I'm told is a good deal more conservative than down here in southern Maine, so this matters. The piece hit especially on the religious aspect of it, which I wrote about yesterday around my interview with Bishop Gene Robinson. They said:

The repeal effort has been led by the Roman Catholic Diocese. Bishop Richard Malone called same-sex marriage "a dangerous sociological experiment." The fact that gay couples have existed for generations - many of them raising children - counters this argument. Worse, however, is the church's attempt to force its views on all Maine's residents, whether they are Catholic or not.

Not only is this a big and welcome surprise (the executive editor, Mark Woodward, worked for Sen. Collins, and his wife still does), but the editorial is very well-written. And talking to political folks on the ground, I've learned that newspapers and their editorials here are a much bigger deal than in many parts of the country. Editorials are discussed at the grocery store, over brunch, at work. One example of that is that the editorial got 360 501 (h/t Chico David RN) comments online- pretty amazing for a circulation of its size. I see lots of WaPo endorsements not nearly as discussed.

I'm usually meh about newspaper editorials, but as Joe Sudbay wrote, when they come as a surprise, and when they matter a great deal up in Maine, it's a huge boost to the campaign.

Today, the Maine Sunday Telegram/Portland Press Herald (the largest in the state) also said No on 1. Their take hits on different points than the BDN, principally, which I look at in the extended entry.

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The Framing of Same-Sex Marriage and Religion

by: Adam Bink

Sat Oct 17, 2009 at 12:00

This is part of a series of on-the-ground coverage with the No On 1 campaign in Maine, generously funded in part by you and with the support of the New Organizing Institute's National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative. For other posts in this series, click here.

On Thursday, Bishop Gene Robinson- the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church- was here in Portland speaking about the marriage ballot initiative. I sat down with him beforehand to ask him about the religious aspect of this. Here's what he had to say:

There was a particular part of what he said that struck me as interesting.

I see marriage as becoming more and more of a civil institution as religious affiliation shrinks. The main reason two people become married is for the civil benefits- taxes, health care, transfer of property, and so forth- has become more prominent. Yet religion has become a stakeholder in the institution so much that religious institutions have a seat at the table in debates like this. And so when there is a movement to expand marriage rights to LGBT couples, churches cry foul and stoke fears that they will be required to marry such couples. The same fears were expressed regarding marriages between people of different religions and people of different races.

In reality, as Bishop Robinson said, this is the church imposing its will on the state. "Separation of church and state works both ways." The framing of what he meant is what really caught me: that churches, as he said, are deputized by the state for civil purposes. If you want to get married, you to a church and you get married. Or you can go get a justice of the peace. You can even have a friend become a Universal Life minister just for the occasion. There are lots of ways. And as Bishop Robinson pointed out, when you get a divorce, you don't go back to the church. You go to the courts. But because marriage originated as a religious concept, and because churches and other religious organizations are massive and organized, the church has a seat at the table, and the religious exceptions written into the New Hampshire and Maine legislation has a specific exception for that. So they get to cry foul and people listen to them.

A way to counter that is that religious institutions should not be allowed to say who should and who should not be married outside their doors. Stay out of state affairs. Thus, his frame: that religious institutions are deputized to perform marriages, just as a library is used for a blood drive. But that doesn't mean the library gets to have a say on who shall give and who shall not. Ergo, neither should a church, and separation of church and state run both ways.

The Pan Atlantic (state-based pollster) poll this past week showed 50.0% voting Yes, 42.7% voting No, and 7.3% undecided (albeit a sample size of 110 Catholic voters). Anecdotally, since I've gotten to Maine I have heard story after story of someone's Catholic mom or grandmother who is voting No, in a state where there is a strong Catholic Church presence and the Church has done two collections for the initiative. For me, the jury is out on whether Bishop Robinson's frame is resonating, but I think it's one to push.

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