Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-05-27
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Maine voters repeal marriage-equality law
NEWS UPDATE Nov. 4, 2009
by Lisa Keen, Keen News Service

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Portland, Maine—The vote tally in Maine Nov. 4, while not complete and not official, suggests an effort to repeal the state's newly passed marriage-equality law has succeeded.

With 93 percent of the precincts reporting in as of 9:25 a.m. Nov. 4, the "Yes" votes to repeal the law totaled 53 percent of the vote, while the "No" votes against repeal numbered 47 percent. The Bangor Daily News provided the tallies. The state's director of elections, Melissa Packard, said her office would not report results publicly until they are certified—in about 20 days.

The apparent vote marks a significant defeat for marriage-equality supporters, who were hoping to regain ground lost last year when voters in California narrowly approved Proposition 8 to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage and undermine a court ruling that had enabled some 18,000 same-sex couples to marry in 2008. ( The vote in that 2008 initiative was 52 percent for, 48 percent against. ) It also appears to provide momentum to the anti-gay marriage movement, which is now attempting to stage an initiative against same-sex marriage in Washington, D.C., and which has a bill pending before the New Hampshire legislature to repeal a bill enacted there earlier this year.

In a ballroom at a Holiday Inn in downtown Portland, "No on 1" campaign manager Jesse Connolly announced to a hushed crowd of a few hundred supporters still on hand at 12:30 a.m. Nov. 4 that the campaign was not conceding defeat and would wait for all the ballots to be counted.

"This is a razor-thin election," said Connolly, "…and every vote counts. We will not quit until we know where everyone of these votes lives. We won't quit. We'll be counting votes into tomorrow morning."

But estimates of the number of outstanding ballots to be counted appear to fall far short of the number needed to overtake the "Yes" votes on the measure.

The "Stand for Marriage Maine" group that led the effort to repeal the marriage equality law proclaimed victory.

Dueling campaigns

The campaigns for and against Maine's equal-marriage law had been underway since May when the legislature passed, and the governor signed, the new law enabling same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses the same as straight couples. Because repeal activists immediately began petitioning for a "Citizens' Veto" measure, the law was put on hold and ballot Question 1 asked voters if they would like to repeal that law.

Many political observers praised the "No on 1" coalition for running a well-organized campaign, headed by Maine natives with considerable experience in Maine politics. At the top of that campaign was Jesse Connolly, a 31-year-old straight married father, on leave from his job as chief of staff for the Maine speaker of the House. Connolly had also run the successful 2005 campaign to vote "No" on a ballot measure seeking to repeal the state's recently passed law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. The "No" vote that year won 55 percent to 45 percent.

The key focus of "No on 1" from the start was identifying voters who would vote "No" and making a concerted effort to get those voters to actually cast their ballots—either by absentee, early voting, or at the voting booth on election day. Activists from as far away as Hawaii came to Maine in the last days of the campaign to help with that basic door-to-door, phone-by-phone effort.

Tambry Young, co-chair of the Family Equality Coalition of Hawaii, said she came to Maine last Wednesday because "at some point, we need to stand up and say, 'We need to do the right thing.'"

But the Yes on campaign had considerable visibility for their messages throughout the state. First, they launched a heavy barrage of television and radio ads warning that approval of same-sex marriage would lead to children being taught about gay marriage in the schools. Then, they staked out the simple message of "Yes on 1" in a highly visible supply of blue and yellow yard signs posted along many of the state's busiest roads. In contrast, "No on 1" often had only a lone pale green sign in noticeably smaller numbers.

At one busy intersection in Portland Nov. 3, five "Yes on 1" activists stood on a median and hoisted "Yes on 1" placards, yelling "Vote Yes on 1—No Homosexuals!" to drivers passing by. The lawn surrounding the intersection was bathed in bright blue and yellow "Yes on 1" signs, while the "No on 1" sported only two large hand-painted signs.

On one occasion, a car zipped by and a woman yelled out the window, "I voted no!" But many cars honked and their drivers waved, seeming to signal agreement with the "Yes on 1" position.

Voter turnout was much heavier than expected. The secretary of state had predicted about 25 to 35 percent of registered voters would turn out, but the Daily News estimates at least 57 percent of registered voters participated.

While spending by both sides appears to have been roughly similar—about $3.5 million each, there was a tremendous push for last-minute funding. The "No on 1" campaign send out an e-mail sent out at 10 o'clock Nov. 2 asking for another $25,000 in donations to pay for television ads to counter the "Yes on 1" campaign's last-minute television buy. Supporters responded with $68,000 before the bank closed that day.

"Never did we think over 1,200 people would give a gift today," said Connolly, in a youtube message taped Monday evening.

"I have never seen a campaign that has had this many volunteers from so many walks of life," said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Carey was in Maine Nov. 3 helping with the get-out-the-vote effort. She said her door-to-door team included an older straight woman from Portland and a young woman from New Hampshire.

Mary Bonauto, too, thanked straight allies "who made this fight their own." Bonauto, who lives in Maine, has been a key leader with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in winning many legal battles for marriage equality in New England. She also represented the "No on 1" campaign in numerous televised debates during the weeks leading up to the vote.

But the latest ad by the "Yes on 1" group appeared to have hit its mark. The ad showed a rapid-fire sequence of newspaper clippings and official-looking documents while a female voice urgently warned that gay activists "are already pushing their agenda in Maine schools." A radio ad warned that gay activists and their supporters will "push it on students." The message was essentially a copycat of a message that had been effective in passing Proposition 8.

Ramifications beyond Maine

Many political observers saw the vote in Maine as a political compass for which way the country's mood is heading on equal marriage rights for gay couples. The Nov. 4 New York Times report called it a "stinging setback for the national gay-rights movement." The San Francisco Chronicle predicted "Tuesday's vote will influence the same-sex marriage issue in California, where voters approved Proposition 8, which struck down legal same-sex marriage last November after the state's Supreme Court declared it a right."

There will, no doubt, be much analysis of why voters chose to repeal the law in Maine, but even before the voting booths had opened Tuesday, there were critics of President Obama's lack of effort around the battle.

Longtime gay Democratic activist David Mixner put it most bluntly on his blog: "President Obama and his team were zero help in this critical battle and in the last week might actually have hurt us."

In fact, in February 2008, as the Democratic primary battle was in full swing, candidate Obama released an open letter to the LGBT community saying "As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best
way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not
stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and
lesbian couples—whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage."

But at a national Human Rights Campaign dinner October 10, the president had nothing to say about Maine or Washington State explicitly; instead, he said, "I believe strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away and passing laws that extend equal rights to gay couples."

And some days later, at an appearance at the University of Maine Oct. 23, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, when asked by a reporter about Maine's Question 1 specifically, said that he and Obama "are of the view it is for states to make these decisions."

The White House offered no comment in regards to Mixner's criticism.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said, "I do think that [ Obama ] was wrong—that neither he nor the Democratic Party spoke out" against the Maine ballot measure.

"I'm disappointed in his failure to speak out on this issue," said Solmonese on Obama. "He did speak out against Proposition 8 and it did influence people. … I think when he talked about using the bully pulpit, that's what we expected he would do."

HRC gave about $300,000 to the campaign effort and had "about a dozen" people "on the ground" in Maine to help the "No on 1" campaign.

Waiting in Washington

In Washington State, where voters were asked to decide whether to keep a newly passed domestic partnership law, a very preliminary results indicates voters have likely voted to retain the law. The secretary of state's Web site Wednesday morning showed 51 percent voted "Yes," and 49 percent voted "No." But the final result in that contest is not likely to be known for several days. Voting in Washington State is done entirely by mail—though voters can drop off their ballots in person, too—and voters could postmark their ballots as late as anytime Tuesday. The Web site indicated 3.5 million votes had been counted; an estimated 390,000 were yet to be counted.

But on one clear bright note, 62 percent of voters in Kalamazoo, Mich. voted Tuesday night to retain that city's recently passed law prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

©2009 Keen News Service

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


WORLD Zambia pardon, fashion house, HIV+ mayor, Costa Rica marriage 2020-06-01
Report: Same-sex weddings boost state economies $3.8 B since marriage equality ruling 2020-05-29
Costa Rica celebrates marriage equality 2020-05-25
VIEWS LGBTQ discrimination is a disgrace 2020-05-18
Yarbrough officiates special Valentine's Day wedding 2020-02-18
WORLD Marriage in Mexico, European report, arrests in journalist's murder 2020-02-18
Talks on Feb. 16, March 1 about issues in 'The Cake' 2020-02-11
WORLD Swiss vote, Northern Ireland wedding, Tanzania report, bishops convene 2020-02-11
Judge rules for same-sex partners in Social Security case 2020-01-31
Federal court ruling benefits same-sex couples 2020-01-22
Indiana same-sex parents can list both names on children's birth certificates 2020-01-19
2019 global roundup, from Toronto to Taiwan 2020-01-08
NATIONAL Anti-LGBTQ crimes, Richard Grenell, two-spirit marriage, Adam Rippon 2020-01-07
UMC may split over same-sex marriage, inclusion 2020-01-04
WORLD Marriage status in Cuba, Shigella outbreak, anti-LGBTQ crime 2019-12-30
Memoir profiles lesser-known sides of Edie Windsor 2019-12-11
WORLD Marriages in Brazil, chemsex, couple attacked, Gus Kenworthy 2019-12-10
Cook County Clerk's office celebrates marriage equality milestones 2019-11-20
Same-sex marriage overturned in Caymans 2019-11-08
ACE Comic Con has same-sex marriage proposal 2019-10-29
WORLD Marriage news, Oscar Wilde, Ugandan activist dies, Iris Prize 2019-10-22
NATIONAL Marriage advocate divorcing, Black gay couple, trans death 2019-10-08
Kol Hadash Congregation embraces LGBTQ inclusivity 2019-10-02
WORLD Japanese case, Jamaica event canceled, Putin's law 2019-09-24
WORLD Gay leaders, Mexican trans women, Czech marriage bill 2019-09-17
Arizona Supreme Court grants Phoenix stationary shop license to discriminate 2019-09-16
Same-sex couple sues State Dept. for treating daughter as born out of wedlock 2019-09-12
WORLD Bermuda Pride, Russian bakery, marriage in Oaxaca 2019-09-03
WORLD South African judge, China on marriage, teens plead not guilty 2019-08-27
NATIONAL Trans death, ACA, 1957 gay wedding, serial killer 2019-08-21
WORLD Fleeing Russia, Cuban activist, UNAIDS, Magnum ad 2019-08-21
WORLD Beijing couple, Dutch man attacked, Ecuador murder 2019-08-13
NATIONAL Torres' run, tribe OKs marriage, Bernie Sanders, Netflix 2019-07-24
WORLD Librarian's death, Baja OKs marriage equality, parade news 2019-07-02
WORLD Mexican marriage bill, Sir Elton John, global Pride events 2019-06-25
Ecuador approves same-sex marriage 2019-06-13
WORLD Filipino survey, Eurovision remarks, North Macedonian march 2019-05-28
Taiwan becomes first Asian country to OK same-sex marriage 2019-05-18
WORLD Extremists charged, Virgin Mary controversy, Taiwan marriage bill 2019-05-14
Majority of Public Favors Same-Sex Marriage, Divisions Persist 2019-05-14

Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.