October 5, 2012 at 8:24 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Exclusive: Democracy for America to ask members to support state marriage campaigns
Steve Elmendorf, Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at a recent D.C. fundraiser for Marylanders for Marriage Equality (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Blade has learned that Democracy for America will ask its supporters to donate to the four statewide same-sex marriage campaigns.

“It happens that marriage equality’s not simply just an issue for progressives or sort of a lefty kind of issue anymore—it’s now become really more of a mainstream issue,” said DFA executive director Arshan Hasan in an exclusive interview on Thursday. The political action committee that former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean founded after his 2004 presidential campaign claims more than a million members across the country. “The people who stand opposed to it are becoming sort of a smaller and smaller and narrower and narrower group of people. It’s important for DFA to stand up for fairness and for equality.”

Hasan, who co-managed the canvassing program against the ultimately successful 2009 referendum that struck down Maine’s same-sex marriage law that state lawmakers had passed earlier that year, noted recent polls in both the Pine Tree State and Maryland that indicate a majority of voters would back nuptials for gays and lesbians at the ballot box. A SurveyUSA poll last month showed Washington’s same-sex marriage referendum leads by a 56-38 percent margin. A Star Tribune Minnesota Poll in late September indicated the campaign over a proposed state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman remains a statistical dead heat.

“Even if it weren’t this close, I think it would still be imperative for DFA to get involved and help out,” said Hasan. “Especially in the case of Minnesota, but in all of these cases I hope that our contribution will be enough to sort of push them over the edge. We’re not going to take it for granted that we’re doing well in Maine. We won’t take it granted that we’re doing well in Maryland too. We think that every little bit will help. We think for each of these campaigns more than a little bit. So I think it will get us closer to our goal.”

Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, welcomed DFA’s support.

“We’re thrilled at DFA’s endorsement of Maryland’s Question 6,” he said. “While we have the momentum, this will be a close race. We need a full-court press by all those who support fairness and equality under the law. Let’s make Maryland the first state in the nation to win marriage equality by popular vote.”

Other statewide same-sex marriage campaign managers agreed.

“Minnesotans United for All Families is thrilled to welcome DFA to our broad coalition working to defeat this amendment,” said Richard Calrborn of Minnesotans United for All Families. “The momentum we have seen to defeat this amendment in Minnesota is incredible, with more than 650 businesses, faith communities, nonprofits, political organizations and community leaders standing united to say ‘no’ to limiting the freedom to marry in our state.”

“We’re very grateful for DFA’s endorsement,” added Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage. “Its commitment to grassroots organizing is exactly in line with the heart of our campaign, one-on-one conversations about why marriage matters to all Maine families. DFA joins a diverse group of more than 155 coalition partners, working to win the freedom to marry in Maine.”

DFA earlier this year supported the campaign against North Carolina’s Amendment 1 that banned nuptials for gays and lesbians. The group also donated $30,000 in direct and in-kind contributions to the 2009 campaign against efforts to repeal Maine’s same-sex marriage law.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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