Maine gay marriage opposition leader predicts Election Day victory

Maine will make a historical social statement Tuesday regardless of the outcome of a high-profile vote. The state is holding a referendum to possibly repeal a law passed this spring which would allow homosexuals to legally marry. If gay marriage supporters are successful on Election Day, Maine will become the first state in the nation to uphold a law legalizing the ceremonies. The most notable battle to date was last year’s Proposition 8 which overturned California’s gay marriage law. The other five states which allow gay marriage – Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut – have all done so either through direct legislative or judicial approval. Plymouth pastor Bob Emrich was a key figure in leading the petition drive to get the “People’s Veto” of the law on the ballot and is one of the leaders for Yes on 1/Stand for Marriage Maine which seeks to discard the law and leave marriage solely between one man and one woman. Numerous polls have consistently shown the race a dead heat, with perhaps a slight advantage to the No on 1/Protect Maine Equality side developing. A poll released Thursday by the liberal Daily Kos organization shows “no” votes holding a slim 48-47 advantage over the “yes” side. That is a slight shift from a 48-46 shift in favor of the “yes” side in a poll done about six weeks ago. Early voting and absentee voting has picked up in recent weeks and Emrich is confident Maine will not become a bellwether state as the first to have voter-sanctioned gay marriage. “We have worked very hard,” Emrich said. “I think Yes on 1 will prevail by a significant margin. … It is clear, though, things will go down to the wire.” Emrich’s hopes are buoyed by two factors: age and religion. Historically older voters tend to turn out in significantly larger numbers than younger voters in non-Presidential election years. According to state census figures, the majority of Maine’s population is 45 and older, a major factor in gay marriage polling data. Nationally, poll numbers often show broad support for gay marriage for Americans under 35. The amount of support goes down gradually by age for people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and older. Additionally, Catholic dioceses have been some of the most vocal and financially active supporters of Yes on 1 from within Maine’s borders. “I think there will be a high percentage of voter turnout among the evangelical community and religious people in general, but unfortunately there is not a very high number of evangelicals here compared to other states,” he said. “We have received a lot of support from the Catholic community and we are expecting strong turnout from the Catholic vote.” There have been several issues which the dueling campaigns have gone back on forth on, particularly fundraising and television commercials. Recently publicized campaign finance reports showed No on 1 holding nearly a 2-to-1 fundraising advantage with both sides leveling carpet bagging charges that the majority of money was flowing in from out of state. On the Yes on 1 side, the largest donor has been the National Organization for Marriage. NOM has been instrumental in helping to bankroll the heretofore state-by-state turf wars where gay marriage has become a political issue. NOM filed a lawsuit in state court to keep the names of its donors to Yes on 1 private. Television commercials on both sides have drawn fire. The one with the most debate is a Yes on 1 ad featuring school counselor Don Mendell speaking on behalf of traditional marriage. The campaign claimed earlier this week that another counselor in the state had made inquiries into getting Mendell’s license revoked because of his stance. “This demonstrates that the definition of marriage isn’t the only thing threatened by the opposition, but also the right to exercise our most basic American freedoms,” wrote Stand for Marriage Maine communications director Scott Fish. Emrich added that he thinks No on 1’s criticism of commercials is a deflection tactic to avoid discussions of how homosexuality would need to be validated in public schools by the preservation of the gay marriage law. “(The other side) are using buzzwords like equality as a distraction from the issues of what some of the real consequences of keeping this law on the books,” he said. Stand for Marriage Maine has also had to fend off positions taken by supporters not affiliated with the campaign who have taken a harder conservative line. In the Thursday edition of the Bangor Daily News, Fish called the Maine Grassroots Coalition and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality and Mass Resistance extremists. The groups voiced opinions that Maine’s gay marriage fight is the tip of the iceberg of a national agenda to use public schools as a vehicle to indoctrinate on the benefits of homosexuality and to promote it as a superior alternative to traditional marriage and heterosexuality in general. No on 1 supporters, meanwhile, continue to frame the issue in a civil rights context of giving all families the same rights under the law absent of a larger social agenda. “If radical means loving the person you’ve been with for many years and trying to provide for that family and for your kids with that committed partner, then I see nothing wrong with that,” said Jesse Connolly, campaign manager for No on 1 in the Bangor Daily News. The focus on relationships was also brought out by Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director for the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). She was debating a representative of Yes on 1 at a televised debate at the University of Southern Maine on Wednesday. GLAD has been an important out-of-state donor for No on 1 and a national advocate for gay rights and gay marriage. “All of us deserve no less than equal protection,” she said. What’s left after any last-minute electioneering is getting core supporters to the polls. “We have a lot of volunteers lined up for rides to the polls, knocking on doors and calling people to remind them to vote,” Emirch said. “The other side is doing the same thing, I’m sure.” Links: Yes on 1/Stand for Marriage Maine: http://www.standformarriagemaine.com/index.php?home=1 No on 1/Protect Maine Equality: http://mainefreedomtomarry.com/

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  1. farmertom said:

    The odious opposition to the bill ending gender discrimination may indeed succeed at the polls. The fearmongering tactics employed (Should SECOND GRADERS BE EXPOSED TO HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE?????!!!) are if nothing else, effective. But it is nothing less than bigotry to support the YES on One proposition. And this being a forum of interest to people who claim Christianity as their guiding belief system I think it fair to ask the question: Who would Jesus discriminate against? Don’t bother quoting passages from the Bible– there are plenty of requests, requirements and cautions that modern Christians routinely ignore. Cut to what’s basic: Jesus. Where does HE indicate that it’s okay to discriminate? He doesn’t– we are supposed to love our neighbors, we are supposed to judge not, that being God’s right. I find the idea that Christians– who have so much pressing work that needs to be done that is going undone– focusing on this issue simply disgusting. Work on your own marriages and let people be.

    October 31, 2009
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  2. MickeyCh said:

    Gay and lesbian families have children, either biologically or by adoption. Of that there can be no argument. The question is one of the consequences for those children of not being allowed to have married parents. One of the main reasons for marriage is the benefit and protection children receive from having married parents. How can any good Christian turn his back on even one child because he doesn’t approve of the parents? Regardless of whether one thinks that same sex marriage is right or wrong, NO child should be sacrificed because his or her parents don’t meet the current standard. Years ago, the children of mixed race couples faced the same kind of discrimination. Many people said that mixed race marriage was against God’s will and contrary to the Bible and children were allowed to suffer. No good Christian can turn his back on even one child and no good Christian will vote to keep them from having married parents.

    October 31, 2009
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  3. donjnarey said:

    Christians do not have to misrepresent in order to validate our positions as Peter Elliott does in this article. Question 1 will have no effect on “ceremonies”: they’ve always been legal. The UCC, Unitarian/Universalists and some Episcopal diocese hold ceremonies, spiritually valid, but not recongized by the state. Question 1 deals ONLY with civil marriage, the purview of the state. It has nothing to do with ceremonies, the purview of the church.

    October 31, 2009
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  4. ChuckGGG said:

    These comments above are right on target. If people would just look at the facts and separate themselves from the emotional aspect, they would be way ahead. Same-sex marriage eventually will be the law of the land. If some churches do not wish to perform these ceremonies or even recognize them, that is their prerogative. But, the issue is not about churches – it is all about the civil, legally binding, marriage license / contract issued by the State. That license agreement can be ratified (in Maine) by either a Justice of the Peace or a Notary Public. A religious ceremony of the couple’s choice is up to them and optional. I performed a straight civil ceremony in Maine back in 1980. As long a people understand there are two parts to a legally binding marriage and that this law will have no effect on churches, then it should be an easy win. And, this is about the children. My partner of 12 years and our 9 year old daughter deserve this right.

    November 2, 2009
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  5. dmorse2525 said:

    Wow! I just want to ask this website if there is any Christian out there that has enough backbone to say something on this? Or are we all so gutless as to think that we can let homosexual liberals run this site? ____ To start, “FarmerTom,” Jesus would not discriminate against anyone. Way to go! You’ve got one attribute of God figured out, love, so you think. But has it ever occurred to you that in Christ’s love He died for the sin of the entire human race? That his love wasn’t simply limited to some washed up peace sign and hugs and kisses all around. He didn’t go around healing and feeding just for the sake of doing these things. In His love, he allowed the healing and feeding of people in order to authenticate the real message He came to give– that was the message of salvation. You know, salvation is a message of love, but it’s a message of love that goes far beyond what you are thinking in this “tolerance and non-discrimination” post. This love is true love, a love that doesn’t look past sin. A love that confronts sin head on and deals with it. That’s the true message of Christ’s love. Everything that He did pointed to what would be done in the future– the culmination of His life on earth– to provide a way to atone for sin. That was done on the cross. Now you may be sitting back snickering right about now saying, “what does that have to do with discrimination?” EVERYTHING. You see, it is racist to attack someone based on the color of their skin. It is malicious to say that “God hates fags” like some organizations do. That, my friend, is discrimination. Discrimination is NOT saying to a person living an immoral lifestyle that they are not allowed to practice their wickedness freely. Is Jesus a hater for telling those who don’t work that they ought not eat? Does he hate and discriminate against the unemployed there? Absolutely not as I’m sure you’d agree. He’s condemning a sinful action or lifestyle. The same is true of homosexuality. In the end, it comes down to this: is homosexuality a sin, and unless you explain away the Scriptures, homosexuality is most certainly a sin. In fact, it is a sin committed by those who have most often led a lifestyle of other sin to get to that point. Now, if you want to explain away words of Scripture, well, that’s another story. If you cannot agree that the Bible is your only rule of faith and practice, and that it is inspired truth, well, then, my time here is pointless. Why? Because once you explain away a verse of Scripture, you justify explaining away whatever is in the Bible that doesn’t quite align with your tastes and worldview. But, if you are to say that you do believe the Bible, it is a lie to not say that homosexuals lead an abnormal (which we haven’t even touched), willfully sinful life, in which they are deliberately turning their backs on God. (Romans 1 to name the most explicit passage; Sodom and Gomorrah; etc.) FarmerTom, Nicky, don, and chuck, it is incredible to see your line of reasoning on this one. It just isn’t their biblically or logically. I’m sorry to shatter your notions of this loving Jesus. You just need to define love right. And true love, doesn’t let sin go unchecked.

    March 27, 2010
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  6. ChuckGGG said:

    dmorse2525: Thanks for your comments. I always like to hear opposing viewpoints. We are just going to have to agree to disagree on this issue. You see, in my case, I would have to believe that being gay is a sin and, of course, I do not. Your scripture may well tell you this. I won’t argue that point. I would have to “buy in” to this particular brand of religion in order to agree with you. There are countless flavors of religion in the world and not all of them are in full agreement with each other (that is an understatement!). The basic point I make on this is that the whole gay marriage issue is not a religious one. This is an entirely secular matter. If your church decides not to perform or support or recognize same-sex (SS) marriage then that is fine. There is a separation of church and state, thankfully. There are many churches in the USA and around the world who do support SS marriage. But, again, this is not the issue as to whether your church or any church supports SS marriage. The issue comes down to whether or not the State supports it. That is where the legal issues arise and that is all we are seeking. No one has any plans to picket a church to attempt to force that church to perform a SS marriage. It is not the issue. Frankly, I was very surprised by the negativity on SS marriage by the churches when, in reality, they just do not have a dog in this fight. This has nothing to do with any church and everything to do with the State. I am sure that you do not care if your marriage is or is not recognized in Islam? Well, I do not care if my marriage is recognized by your church. It just has nothing to do with me. What I do care about is that the State issues a legally binding license and recognizes my marriage as legal so that contracts, health care, custody rights, and so forth, are recognized. So, basically, we are down to this – I do not agree with you that being gay is a sin. That is between you and your church/scripture/etc. I am sure your marriage is considered a sin by Islam (who knows why, but I am sure they’ll find some problem with it). Secondly, I know there are two parts to a legally recognized marriage – the legal aspect with the State and an optional part with the church/religion of your choice. Certainly, in the eyes of the State, a marriage performed by a Justice of the Peace or a City Clerk is 100% legal. Now, your church (and certainly the Catholic church) would disagree on this, instead requiring a separate ceremony. That is it in a nutshell. We won’t agree on any of this, I’m sure. I am just disappointed in the results in Maine that overturned a law enacted by the Legislatue and signed into law by the Governor. The scare tactics and hate mongering spewed by the religious groups reminded me of the deep south in the 1950’s and 1960’s when Civil Rights and inter-racial marriage were the targets.

    March 29, 2010
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