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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Maine

Prop. 1: Events leading up to the vote
from 2009-OCT-18 until
election day+1

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Previous developments

2009-OCT-18: Interfaith March in Support of "No on 1:"

The Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry held a march in Portland, ME to protest"

"... against discrimination and in support of marriage equality for all Mainers. ... People of faith from all over the area will be gathering at churches and parks and walking to Monument Square for an Interfaith service to celebrate our unity in God's love and our desire for justice for all God's people. With prayer, music, and spoken words we will all have the opportunity to express our faith and to call for the end of discrimination against LGBT persons." 1

2009-NOV-03: The vote:

Initial results looked reasonably encouraging during the early evening of election day.

At 9:54 PM ET on election day, results from only 132 of 605 precincts reporting were encouraging:

bulletNo (in favor of marriage equality)  56,659 or 50.62%
bulletYes (opposed to marriage equality) 55,267 or 49.38%

However, these preliminary votes may have been weighted in favor of urban areas. As expected, there was heavy support for marriage equality in the cities of Maine and strong opposition in the rural areas. Portland, for example, voted 73% against Question 1.

Opponents to same-sex marriage declared victory shortly after 12:30 AM on NOV-04.

bulletFrank Schubert, campaign manager of Stand for Marriage Maine, the main group opposing marriage for same-sex couples, said: "Question 1 has passed. It has all come together tonight and the institution of marriage has been preserved."
bulletMarc Mutty, public affairs director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland who has working for the campaign, said: "We went up against tremendous odds. We all know we were the little guy going up against the big guy, but we prevailed. We prevailed because the people of Maine -- the silent majority -- the folks back home spoke with their votes. ... What they had to say is marriage matters because it's between a man and a woman. [This campaign] has never been about hating gays, but about preserving marriage and only about preserving marriage, and that's what we did tonight."
bulletRev. Bob Emrich of Palmyra is co-chair of the Stand for Marriage Maine Coalition. He said: "This doesn't mean it's the end of our work. We must begin building bridges and we may have to mend fences. People on the other side were doing what they believed in, too. God has given us this victory, and it is very important for us to recognize that he is the one who put the energy into this campaign. So let's not be so arrogant to forget this. It's very appropriate to pause for a moment of prayer."

By the term "preserving marriage" Schubert and Mutty apparently meant preserving marriage as an exclusively opposite-sex institution and excluding loving committed same-sex couples. Rev. Emrich clearly placed his campaign on the side of God which would seem to imply that the marriage equality supporters are on the side of Satan. He might find it difficult to build bridges and mend fences with that mindset.

At about the same time,

bulletJessie Connolly, the No on 1 campaign manager acknowledged defeat and said: "Were not short-timers; we are here for the long haul. Whether it's just all night and into the morning, or next week or next month or next year, we will be here. We'll be fighting, we'll be working. We will regroup."
bulletMary Bonauto, a No on 1 executive board member and attorney with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) said she was never more proud to live in Maine and raise a family with her long-term partner. She said: "I look around at the 8,000 volunteers, and the vast majority are not gay people. So that gives me hope that, regardless of the outcome, that this discussion has changed the state." 2

By 4:12 PM on NOV-04, with 99% of the precincts reporting, results had turned against same-sex marriage:

bulletNo (in favor of marriage equality)  267,574 or 47.19%
bulletYes (opposed to marriage equality) 299,483 or 52.81% 3

The final results were 53% to 47% against marriage equality. The voter turnout was 60% -- high for an off-year election. Strong support was expressed in the costal cities; strong opposition was apparent in the northern rural areas. Some observers had speculated that the proximity of Maine's northern section to Canada where SSM has been available since 2005 might have generated majority support in the North of Main, but no such effect was observed.

There were two additional influences that may have contributed to the voters' rejection of SSM.

  • The question was confusing. Voters had to vote "Yes" to repeal SSM, and "No" to retain it.

  • The pro-SSM side may have committed a strategic error. "Dan the Roman," a liberal Repubican, posted his comments to an article on USElectionAtlas.com:

    "They lost it all in the last week. They stupidly filed a complaint against a guidance counselor for appearing in a "Yes" ad, and not advocating for the ban, but saying that it would be taught in schools. He was suspended from his job, and the newspapers for the last week were dominated by stories about the No side wanting to fire everyone who disagrees with them as well as the conversation being about homosexuality in the schools."

    "The Gay rights groups have to get it that the demographics are destiny arguments, as much as they make them feel better, are offensive to a large number of people, including those who as a policy matter want equality. By fighting it as a moral issue, but treating dissent as evil, they are worrying a large number of voters that their agenda is not legal but cultural. And the problem is it is. I get tired of people complaining about the Prop 8 ads lying. The ads for the gay marriage bans in Michigan lied about the impact on potential domestic partnerships. The problem with the California ads about kids being taught about gay marriage is that they were true, and the No campaign had no response when that became apparent."7

Additional reactions to the vote:

Betsy Smith of Equality Maine wrote on NOV-06:

"Winning marriage equality in Maine is going to take a little more work than we anticipated. But be encouraged that we made it almost all the way, and don't have far to go."

"Everything is trending in our direction, including demographics. In addition, we moved legislators, we moved a governor, we moved the media, and we moved many voters from Yes to No. And while we didn't move quite enough voters in the amount of time we had, marriage equality in Maine is inevitable."

Equality Maine will be holding a series of community conversations during December to debrief participants, share stories, and plan for the future. 4

Brian Brown of National Organization for Marriage, the main group opposing marriage for same-sex couples, wrote:

"Same-sex marriage is likely coming up for a vote in New York and New Jersey in the next month. We do not now have the [financial] resources to stop it. We've proven we have the team to win, but we don't have the money." 5

Jendi Reiter, author, Christian and straight, analyzed the setback for SSM in Maine and suggests:

"... the poll numbers suggest that mainstream GLBT activist groups aren't reaching Christian voters. We've been treating this as a lobbying issue when it's a spiritual and cultural one. A hundred get-out-the-vote calls won't convince someone who answers to a higher authority."

"Our ads speak the secular liberal language of tolerance and diversity. 'Yes on 1' voters probably feel frightened that mainstream culture doesn't value, and in fact actively assaults, marital fidelity and children's innocence. To them, more sexual freedom seems like a wrong turn. Of course, scapegoating gays isn't the answer, but we first need to show that we heard the question. ..."

"A conservative Christian friend of mine believes that the Bible calls gays to celibacy, but she's not interested in legislating away their rights. The Bible's rules only apply once you've made a commitment to Jesus, she says. For the general public, the state should legislate according to secular principles."

"I think this is a potentially useful argument for swaying those voters who will never personally feel comfortable with gay marriage. If it's framed as a question of church-state separation, they might be persuaded to leave the issue up to personal conscience, like pro-lifers who believe abortion is immoral but aren't inclined to use state coercion to worsen a tragic situation."

"At the same time, 'open and affirming' Christians need to make specifically Christian arguments for a gay-friendly reading of the Bible, and publicize them through sermons, mailings, and videos, just as their Catholic and Mormon opponents did. I'm working on some ideas in this area. Contact me if you want to help." 6

Site navigation:

Home> Religious info.> Basic> Marriage> SSM> Menu> Maine> here

Home> "Hot" topics> Homosexuality> SSM> Menu> Maine> here

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Interfaith rally against discrimination event - Portland," Religious Coalition for the freedom to Marry, 2009-OCT-07, at: http://religiouscoalition.org/
  2. Kevin Miller and Judy Harrison, "Gay marriage repealed in Maine. Yes on 1 claims victory, repeal opponents 'will regroup'," Bangor Daily News, 2009-NOV-05, at: http://www.bangordailynews.com/
  3. "Maine Vote 2009," Bangor Daily News, 2009-NOV-03, at: http://www.bangordailynews.com/
  4. Email from Equality Maine, 2009-NOV-06.
  5. Email from National Organization for Marriage, 2009-NOV-06.
  6. Jendi Reiter, "Gay Marriage Setback in Maine," 2009-NOV-04, at: http://www.jendireiter.com/
  7. "Dan the Roman,"Re: 2009 Maine Proposition 1 Referendum by town, Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, 2010-JUL-13, at: http://www.uselectionatlas.org/

Copyright © 2009 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2009-SEP-23
Latest update: 2011-JUN-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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