Friday, September 18, 2009

Maine News: State Leaders Counter Out-of-State Lies; Optimism Builds for Win; PFAW's Report on Religious Right's Campaign of "Lies and Big Money"

OK. My head is spinning. So much is happening in Maine, it's hard to keep up. So I'll keep my own words concise (hard for me, I know) and let the news read for itself.

On Wednesday, the pro-marriage equality NO on 1 campaign responded within 24 hours to the anti-LGBT Yes on 1's first ad with a counter ad of their own. Not to be outdone, the Yes on 1 issued a press release in response on Thursday.
In a misguided attempt to avoid discussion of legitimate issues raised by the proposed legalization of homosexual marriage, the No on Question 1 campaign has misfired, accusing legal scholars – including a prominent supporter of same-sex marriage – of engaging in “fear-mongering, lies and distortions.” The scholars are on record of pointing out the inherent legal conflicts between the rights of people who sincerely oppose homosexual marriage and the rights of same-sex ‘married’ couples if homosexual marriage is legalized.

“Unfortunately for Jesse Connolly and the No on 1 campaign, the shot they thought was aimed at us instead has ricocheted and is now squarely lodged in their own foot,” said Marc Mutty, Chairman of Stand For Marriage Maine, the official Yes on Question 1 campaign. “One of the legal scholars they dismiss as ‘liars’ includes Professor Douglas Laycock, a prominent scholar who supports homosexual marriage. In their desperation to avoid the legitimate discussion of serious issues raised by the legalization of homosexual marriage, the No on 1 campaign has wounded itself and done a great disservice to the people of Maine.”
“The conflicts that LD 1020 creates for people of faith are real and serious concerns. Respected legal experts on both sides of the issue agree on this. It’s time for the No on 1 campaign to acknowledge these concerns and address them, rather than simply dismiss them with vitriolic campaign rhetoric. The legal scholars, including those who support same-sex marriage, are not part of our campaign. They have raised important issues that the people of Maine are entitled to know about. We intend to make sure that they do,” said Mutty.
Unfortunately for the Yes on 1 campaign, the People of the American Way issued its report that same day, "Outside Religious Right Groups Targeting Marriage Equality in Maine With a Prop 8-Style Campaign Based on Lies and Big Money."

Part of their press release on the report states:
People For the American Way issued a report today that documents how the Religious Right is targeting marriage equality in Maine with big money and false attacks, virtually identical to the fearmongering strategies in 2008's Proposition 8 campaign in California.

"The fight to protect marriage equality in Maine hasn't gotten the same national attention that Prop 8 did in California, but national Religious Right organizations are pouring resources into their anti-equality effort," said Peter Montgomery, Senior Fellow at People For the American Way. "The far right is determined to deny equality to same-sex couples in Maine, no matter what it takes. Fortunately, a smart Mainer-led campaign is mobilizing support for the state's marriage equality law and the families it will protect."
In the press release, they state that national anti-gay leaders and veterans of last year's Prop 8 battle in California descended on Maine; that the right-wing is not interested in running a "fact-filled" and "honest, civil and respectful campaign," and are instead choosing the low road of fearmongering and false attacks; and the money has poured into the campaign against marriage equality in Maine, with more than 99 percent of the early money coming from four organizations, and less than 1 percent coming from Maine voters.

Here is the full four-page report:
PFAW Report on Religious Right Wing Campaign in Maine

To make matters worse for the Yes on 1 campaign, today actual Maine leaders, unlike the out-of-towners used by the opposition, have responded with their own full rebuttal to the campaign's attack ads. The nine page response details the fallacies claimed by the Yes on 1 campaign in their tv and radio ads and then proceeds to point out the lies.

Maine Legal Rebuttal to Yes on 1 Ads

Polls released today from Maine show marriage equality opponents with a two point lead, but this lead falls within the margin of error, thus indicating both campaigns are in a dead heat.

Markos from the Daily Kos, which issued the polls, reports:
The forces of bigotry have a 2-point lead, but it's within the margin of error. This thing is statistically tied. It's a toss-up. It's a battle between the side who can best bring out its supporters to the polls. And it's a battle to persuade that tiny percent of undecideds to vote for equality. In fact, millions will be spent by both sides to bring that 6 percent home. You can help the "no" side protect marriage equality by contributing here.

The demographics are a mixed bag -- men aren't with us, but women are. Democrats are obviously a strong demo for us, and with 9 percent of the undecided coming from their ranks, that's a positive sign. Independents lean our way, but it'd be nice to grow our margin there, since Republicans will be motivated to turn out, and they'll provide the bulk of the bigot vote.

Young people are strongly with us, older folk aren't. Who are the more dependable voters? We can't take anything for granted on that front. Getting out the youth vote will be imperative for the "No on 1" campaign.
Joe Sudbay of America Blog responded to Markos:
We always knew going in that this was going to be a battle til the end and getting out our vote will be critical. In Maine, that will determine the winner. I've done Get-out-the vote in Maine many times. The people working on our side really know how to do it. And, I mean really know how to do it . . . we're going to make history there.
Jesse Connolly, the NO on 1 campaign's manager also responded to the polls, saying "To take the lead, it's going to take money, volunteers, an effective media strategy, and an unparalleled get-out-the-vote operation."

ACTION: So what are you waiting for? Help win marriage equality!


  1. Thanks for keeping everyone up to date on the battle in Maine. I'm glad your blog is able to sift through all the constant stream of information regarding the marriage equality movement throughout the nation. I did not know that less than 1% of the early money for the anti-equality side was from groups outside the state. It looks like the same players from Prop 8 have moved to Maine for the fall. Groups like the National Organization for Marriage, the Catholic Church, and the Focus Research Council have all come to bankroll Stand for Marriage Maine. These bigots have succumbed to using the same dirty tactics, as seen in California. They are trying to instill fear into voters by using the same tactics that worked here in the last election. Bringing up the issue of school and children to scare parents. Talking about how "redefining marriage" will cause society to collapse. Lying about how religious freedoms will be non-existent if same-sex marriage were to be legalized. The good thing about this battle is that the No on 1 campaign has learned from the mistakes of California's No on 8. As shown your post, our side is in firm control of the debate. The No on 1 campaign has been able to effectively and immediately respond to the fear mongering ads of the anti-LGBT side. Maine voters have always been independent minded voters. By having "actual Maine leaders" rather than "the out of towners" combat these lies, the No on 1 campaign is able to connect with voters on a personal level.

    Because Maine's population is so small, I think we will be able to ID most of the voters in Maine through phone-banks. I agree that GOTV will be the single most important part of the campaign. Mobilizing our base of the youth and Democrats to vote early will be key in winning. One thing I do wish the campaign would do is to not be afraid of hitting back harder in the television and radio ads. We should not be weak when confronting the bigots. Thank you for continually pushing people to take a volunteer vacation to Maine. I am so glad to see so many activists in California and the rest of the country donate their time and money in the "ground zero" of the equality movement. Winning here will continue the recent momentum of LGBT equality across the nation. One question I have for you is: If we win in Maine, do you think it will affect the year that we go back to the ballot in California?

  2. Hi Tony,

    Thanks for the great comment. It truly is exciting (albeit scary, but that's exciting too) about what's happening in Maine. It does to some extent appear to be deja vu compared to what happened here in California, but the NO on 1 campaign does seem better prepared than we were out here. Plus, Maine is, after all, very different from California. But because of Prop 8, Californians have learned valuable lessons. And as it appears, the exact same people who took our rights away are using the same tactics in Maine, so we have certain insights.

    As for the election results in Maine affecting when we go back to the ballot here in California, that will undoubtedly come into play here, whether or not many want to admit it.

    However, Restore Equality 2010, a grassroots campaign, has already begun to launch a signature gathering campaign to get an initiative to restore marriage equality on the 2010 ballot. Naturally, those who favor 2012 are working for that date. Yet if there's a win in Maine, that may bring a surge of momentum, and I would almost guarantee those working for 2010 will see many more volunteers and funds. Because if Maine does win, it will be the first ever win for marriage equality through a public vote. This will naturally inspire many to do the same in California and right the wrong of Prop 8.