Maine gay marriage foes estimate $2 million needed for campaign

The effort to block gay marriage from becoming law in Maine will likely cost more than $2 million. A referendum based on the state’s “people’s veto” provision has set up a Nov. 3 showdown over the state’s gay marriage law approved by the legislature earlier this year. Bob Emrich, a pastor and key organizer for the Stand For Marriage Maine coalition, said fundraising efforts are building a campaign war chest to counter the efforts of No on 1, the gay and lesbian political organization asking voters to uphold the gay marriage statute. “It will cost $2 million and possibly more than that depending on what the other side does and how we may need to respond to it,” Emrich said. “It is a tough time to raise money economically. We are very grateful for the large donations we’ve gotten from some groups. In a campaign everybody makes a big deal about how much groups contribute. It takes a long time to add up, but those small contributions from individual donors that are accompanied with personal concerns are very important. “Concerned people from Maine who are giving $25 or $50 and praying for us are money well-spent that might not show up in a fundraising report but it is what will win this campaign.” A blog on the No on 1 Web site illustrates reaching out to large out-of-state donors is well underway on both sides of the issue. Quoting July filings with the Maine Ethics Commission, Stand for Marriage Maine collected $343,000, with large donations coming from the National Organization for Marriage ($160,000), the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland ($100,000), the Knights of Columbus ($50,000) and Focus on the Family Maine ($31,000). No on 1 supporters garnered $143,000, with a total of $60,000 coming from two individual Maine donors and $10,000 each from Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union. The Los Angeles Times reported last week that Equality California, a primary supporter of Proposition 8, is telling pro-gay marriage Californians to send contributions to Maine. “A victory in Maine is essential for victory in California,” wrote Geoff Kors, head of EQCA, the Times reported. Scott Fish, communications director for Stand for Marriage Maine, said any arguments made that there aren’t out of state monies coming in is false. He said it was moot point because of the fundraising mechanisms already in place on both sides. “There had been some p.r. on the other side portraying their efforts as a Maine-only grassroots campaign and that’s simply not the case,” he said. The money is coming in even though the Secretary of State’s office has until Fri., Sept.4 to validate the petition signatures to trigger the people’s veto. The referendum moving forward is widely viewed as a foregone conclusion. Stand for Marriage Maine collected 100,343 signatures. Only 55,087 are needed to force the referendum. “I think it’s safe to say our advertising will reach out as broadly as possible,” Fish said. “Not only paid media, but our own in-house e-mail blasts and other online efforts. We’ll be reaching out to Maine voters every possible way we can think of and probably ways we haven’t even thought of yet.” The money involved is recognition of the significance of Maine possibly becoming the first state to allow gay marriage through voter approval. “A big part of what we would really like to do is appeal to as wide a spectrum of people and to as large a group of people as possible,” Emrich said. “We know Maine has national significance and would encourage interested people to contact us about making a contribution.” In a forum held last week by the progressive online organization Netroots, Monique Hoeflinger of the LGBT Mentoring Project illustrated how pro-gay marriage supporters built their organization up the point where it is heading into the campaign. “The hard part of this campaign is actually investigating in the organizers who build that sense of urgency within the community,” Hoeflinger said in a video from the conference posted on YouTube. “In Maine we didn’t start off with high enthusiasm. We didn’t start with a volunteer infrastructure; it took us four years to build. “But when we said turnout, take the day the off from work, we had 4,000 people there. You can’t do that overnight. You have to build relationships, you have to build a sense of urgency so that people have ownership of this and they do rearrange their lives to make it a priority. Demand that your statewide organization hire 25 organizers three years before you want to go to the ballot or set your election. That’s how you create a structure that builds results on down the road.” Links: Stand for Marriage Maine: http://www.standformarriagemaine.com/ No on 1: http://67.199.35.190/index.cfm

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  1. MickeyCh said:

    With so many in need in this world, hunger, sickness, joblessness and numerous other problems, it would seem to be a sin to spend $2million in an effort to stop others from marrying and forming families. Certainly no one would imagine Christ supporting such a travesty. How did people stray so far from Christ’s message of love for everyone?

    August 21, 2009
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