Saturday, September 12, 2009

NO on 1 Calls on Opponents to Open the Doors to Their Augusta Rally; Marriage Equality Proponents to Host Community Conversations Statewide

The following is a press release issued by the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign:

The NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign today challenged its opponents to allow the media into their Augusta rally tomorrow featuring several out-of-state, headline speakers opposed to marriage equality. At the same time, NO on 1 announced that it will hold a series of "community conversations" around the state to engage Mainers on this important question of fairness and equality.

"The contrast could not be clearer," said NO on 1 campaign manager Jesse Connolly. "While our opponents have speakers flown in from San Diego and Washington, DC to speak out against loving Maine couples and families, we're having real conversations, Mainer to Mainer, about the importance of marriage equality."

The opposition rally at the Augusta Civic Center features Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, Harry Jackson, Jr., of Hope Christian Church in Washington, D.C., Chris Clark from East Clairemont Baptist Church in San Diego, and a special message from James Dobson of Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs. The ticketed event is closed to the press.

While the opponents' rally at the Augusta Civic Center will be closed to the media and people without tickets, NO on 1's Augusta "community conversation," the first in a statewide series, will be open to the general public and the media. That conversation is happening tomorrow, Sunday, September 13th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at South Parish Congregational Church, 9 Church Street, Augusta.

"It makes no sense to hold a big rally and then deny access to the general public and ban coverage of the event by the Maine media," said Connolly. "If the organizers really want to show people that they are not alone, why would they close the doors to the general public, to television news viewers and to Maine newspaper readers?"

Members of the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine also spoke out today about the insinuation from the backers of Question 1 that their rally will demonstrate that religious leaders are united in opposition to marriage equality.

"It is simply not true to suggest that all people and leaders of faith are opposed to marriage equality," said Pastor Mike Gray of Old Orchard Beach United Methodist Church. "Many, many people of deep faith -- from the pulpit to the pews -- believe that only marriage truly honors and respects the livelong, loving commitment between two people. For many of us, it's a moral question of basic fairness for all Maine families."

"Marriage equality is a necessity from both a civil and moral standpoint," said Rev. Don Rudalevige a retired United Methodist Minister from Cape Elizabeth. "This is a civil matter and religions can continue to decide on their own, what marriages they will or will not perform. But it's important to remember that many faith communities want the ability to perform marriages for gay and lesbian couples."

Anne Underwood of Catholics for Marriage Equality also noted that many Catholics planned not to participate in the Diocese's special collection this Sunday to raise funds to repeal marriage equality.

"We believe many Catholics will either ignore the special collection altogether or hand in a note supporting the marriage equality law," Ms. Underwood said. "We believe that marriage equality is a matter of civil rights and social justice and, in fact, many Catholics feel compelled by conscience to support the effort to defeat Question 1."

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