Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Maine
Prop. 1: Events leading up to the vote
from 2009-OCT-18 until election day+1
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."
2009-NOV-03: The vote:
Initial results looked reasonably encouraging during the early evening of
At 9:54 PM ET on election day, results from only 132 of 605 precincts
reporting were encouraging:
||No (in favor of marriage equality) 56,659 or 50.62%
||Yes (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
Frank 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
||Marc 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."
Rev. 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
At about the same time,
Jessie 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."
Mary 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:
||No (in favor of marriage equality) 267,574 or 47.19%
Yes (opposed to marriage equality) 299,483 or 52.81%
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
"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
"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
"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."
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Interfaith rally against discrimination event - Portland," Religious
Coalition for the freedom to Marry, 2009-OCT-07, at:
Kevin Miller and Judy Harrison, "Gay marriage repealed in Maine. Yes on 1
claims victory, repeal opponents 'will regroup'," Bangor Daily News,
"Maine Vote 2009," Bangor Daily News, 2009-NOV-03, at:
- Email from Equality Maine, 2009-NOV-06.
- Email from National Organization for Marriage, 2009-NOV-06.
Jendi Reiter, "Gay Marriage Setback in Maine," 2009-NOV-04, at:
"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