USA: Marriage Equality Wins In Maine
The Portland Press Herald reports:
Gay-marriage supporters have won the campaign to bring same-sex marriage to Maine, according to the Associated Press.
Early results in what was expected to be a close race showed 54 percent supporting Question 1, and 48 percent opposing it, with 34 percent of all precincts reporting statewide, according to unofficial tallies.
Several hundred gay-marriage supporters gathered at the Holiday Inn By the Bay ballroom for a festive election night party with a disc jockey who played songs such as Frank Sinatra’s “Love and Marriage.” They cheered at the news that President Obama was projected to win in Maine and considered it a good sign that former Gov.Angus King, an independent who supports same-sex marriage, was called an early winner as well.
"The trends are all looking good," said Mainers United for Marriage spokesman David Farmer.
Many hoped to erase the stinging memory of 2009, when gay marriage was rejected by Maine voters 53 percent to 47 percent.
In Lewiston, opponents gathered at the Ramada Inn, where Protect Marriage Maine leaders Carroll Conley and Bob Emrich tallied results in one room to share with the crowd in the conference room.
A small group remained at the Protect Marriage Maine gathering in Lewiston late Tuesday night.
Bob Emrich, co-chairman of the organization, said anything could happen, given the closeness of the race and the scattered manner in which the results were coming in.
"It’s still early," he said. "We’re very hopeful."
He said he was still hoping for strong turnout in the northern part of the state.
Attendance at the low-key party at the Ramada Inn peaked at about 40 earlier in the evening. Fox News was projected on a large screen at one side of the space and CBS News played on a television in another.
The final outcome became less clear as the night wore on.
"We’re still waiting to see what Portland will do. That will be very telling, but not conclusive," Emrich told the group.
Caroline and Dan West of Raymond were planning to stay at the gathering until the result was clear.
"We’re die-hards," said Caroline West, who is 47 and will soon be going to school to become a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.
Dan West, 48, said they want to support “Biblical and traditional” marriage to preserve the health of society. West is the treasurer of No Special Rights PAC, which was started by same-sex marriage opponents Michael Heath and Paul Madore. West said he wanted to show support for Protect Marriage Maine, which has spearheaded opposition to gay marriage this election.
He didn’t make any predictions about the outcome.
"It’s all in God’s hands whether we win or we lose," he said. "We do our part."
If the ballot measure passes, the earliest gay and lesbian couples could marry would likely be early January. That’s because the Secretary of State’s Office has 20 days to certify results, Gov. Paul LePage has 10 days to approve them, and after that, there’s a constitutionally-mandated 30 day waiting period for the law to take effect, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
The vote in Maine will have national implications, both for state-level battles moving forward and for the Supreme Court, which is likely to take up at least one gay-marriage case next year.
Maine is one of four states that voted Tuesday on gay marriage, with Maryland and Washington considering whether to uphold laws passed by their legislatures and Minnesota deciding whether to adopt a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Across the country, 31 states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.
The Four 2012: Stories From Maine
A video by New Left Media.
"Four States, One Election, This November Vote For Marriage Equality".
Human Rights Campaign Donates $1M To Fight Marriage Referenda In Four States
The Human Rights Campaign is directing $1 million in cash to four states with gay marriage ballot initiatives this November, a new chunk of funding for efforts to make history with a statewide win among voters on an issue that polls show public opinion shifting.
The HRC funds, which are being unveiled Monday, are $250,000 apiece for Maine, Washington, Maryland and Minnesota, all of which have ballot measures in November on gay marriage.
Officials said there will be more spending coming, and that it makes the total spent by HRC in 2011 and 2012 on marriage-related efforts to $4.8 million.
"These ballot measures are the critical issues in November for our community, besides reelecting the president" and a small handful of specific races, said HRC’s Michael Cole-Schwartz. "And part of why they’re a big deal is because our opponents have rightfully had the talking points that all of these states have banned marriage for same-sex couples [in the past]."
Those battles also took place, he noted, before the shift in public opinion that polls have showed in the last two years. A Pew survey released last week still showed a majority of Republicans against gay marriage, but 51 percent of independents support it, and 48 percent of voters overall, while 44 percent oppose it.
"This is the year where we really think that we have the opportunity to be the victors," he added, saying, "We want to stand up and be leaders…and spur more investments in these campaigns as well."
The fights in the four states will be taking place against the backdrop of Supreme Court challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act — a law that presents complications to state-based laws. There will also be the challenge to California’s Proposition 8.
Among the biggest donations to the state marriage fights so far has been a $2.5 million pledge from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to the Washington effort. And a group of prominent hedge fund executives, among them Elliott Associates’ Paul Singer, are involved in donating major sums to the state-based fights, as he and others did in New York last year.
'The issue of gay marriage has not been central to the 2012 presidential race, which has been largely defined by the economy, but it remains a heated issue with certain constituencies, and has been a persistent issue.
Still, with social conservatives organizing more forcefully to turn out evangelical and faith-based voters, as The Huffington Post reported over the weekend, it’s a reminder that it’s an issue that could still turn out voters on the Republican side as well. Romney, who was not the choice of social conservatives in the primary, continues to woo support among evangelicals and social conservatives in the party’s base, well after the intraparty fight has ended.
Conservatives have a number of concerns about President Obama, chief among them Obamacare and other policy issues, but one of them was the president’s open support for gay marriage. The Huffington Post reported that Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition will spend $10 million to energize the base and defeat the president.
None of the states where the marriage fight is playing out is a battleground (Minnesota, if Tim Pawlenty is on the ballot on the other side, is the exception). But the issue, injected into the national discussion prominently by Vice President Joe Biden and Obama, is not on the sidelines this cycle.