November 5, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
State marriage campaigns make final election push
Maine, same sex marriage, Brunswick, Washington Blade, gay news

A Mainers United for Marriage volunteer speaks with a likely voter (Photo courtesy of Mainers United for Marriage)

With less than a week before Election Day, the four statewide same-sex marriage campaigns remain optimistic voters will support ballot measures that will allow gay men and lesbians to tie the knot.

“We feel as confident as I’ve ever felt going into a campaign,” said Matt McTighe, campaign director of Mainers United for Marriage.

Maine voters in 2009 approved a referendum that overturned the same-sex marriage law then-Gov. John Baldacci signed earlier that year. A Portland Press Herald poll conducted between Sept. 12-16 indicated Question 1 led by a 57-36 percent margin. A Public Policy Polling survey earlier in September found 52 percent of likely Maine voters support Question 1, compared to 44 percent who oppose it.

State campaign finance reports indicate Mainers United for Marriage has raised nearly four times as much money as Protect Marriage Maine, but the anti-Question 1 group continues to air television ads across the state that same-sex marriage supporters maintain mislead voters.

Protect Marriage Maine’s latest television ad features David and Tania Parker who unsuccessfully sued their son’s suburban Boston school after he brought home a book that features two men who get married. The Maryland Marriage Alliance, the group that prompted a Nov. 6 referendum on the Free State’s same-sex marriage law Gov. Martin O’Malley signed this year, earlier this month debuted a similar ad that features the Lexington, Mass., couple.

“What we do in a school is no substitute for what happens at home. That’s where family values come in — that’s where core values come in,” said teacher Amy Boungard who appears in a Mainers United for Marriage ad that counters the Protect Marriage Maine spot that features the Parkers. “No law is going to change the core values we teach here at home.”

A number of politicians, celebrities and other high-profile figures have either backed same-sex marriage referenda in Maine, Minnesota and Washington or opposed a proposed state constitutional amendment that would ban nuptials for gays and lesbians in Minnesota.

President Obama on Oct. 26 issued statements in support of the three same-sex marriage ballot measures and against Minnesota’s proposed state constitutional amendment.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier this month donated $500,000 to the Maine, Minnesota and Washington same-sex marriage campaigns. The Johns Hopkins University graduate on Oct. 12 gave $250,000 to Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the group defending Question 6.

Actor Brad Pitt on Wednesday announced he will donate $100,000 to the Human Rights Campaign’s National Marriage Fund that supports the four statewide campaigns — HRC will have invested $5 million in these ballot measures by Election Day. Bill and Melinda Gates on Oct. 23 made a $500,000 donation to Washington United for Marriage, the group supporting the referendum on the state’s same-sex marriage law Gov. Chris Gregoire signed in February.

“These amazing gifts, from two visionary leaders, demonstrate their confidence in our campaign, which families across Washington State are counting on us to win,” said Zach Silk, campaign manager for Washington United for Marriage, who also applauded Bloomberg. “They join tens of thousands of individual donors and their call to action, coming as it does in these final days, is an inspiration to every supporter of the freedom to marry.”

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe joined U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and hundreds of others at a Minneapolis rally on Oct. 29 against Minnesota’s proposed ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

Minnesotans United for All Families reported on Oct. 30 it has raised more than $3 million in cash and in-kind contributions since September.

A Star-Tribune Minnesota Poll published on Oct. 28 found 48 percent of likely voters support the proposed amendment, compared to 47 percent who oppose it. Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Marriage, conceded to the Washington Blade he expects the election results to be close. He stressed, however, he remains confident state voters will reject the proposed amendment.

“It’s an incredible force right now and we’re really proud of Minnesota standing up and uniting behind this idea that we can fight back this amendment,” he said, referring to the group’s latest campaign finance report that indicates 63,000 people have contributed to Minnesotans United for All Families. Carlbom said the campaign also has 10,000 volunteers who will work with potential voters in the days leading up to Election Day. “We know every vote will count.”

McTighe was quick to point out he does not want to become overconfident going into Election Day. He remains cautiously optimistic, however, about his group’s prospects in Maine and other same-sex marriage campaigns across the country.

“We’ve never won one of these ballot measures,” said McTighe. “I feel as good as I can possibly feel.”

gay news, Washington Blade, Michael Bloomberg

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Michael Bloomberg donated $250,000 to Marylanders for Marriage Equality. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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