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Posts for October, 2009

Hate Group Holds Press Conference At Maine Statehouse For Question 1

Jim Burroway

October 28th, 2009

Brian Camenker of MassResistance, one of only eleven anti-gay hate groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center, held a rally and press conference in the Hall of Flags at the Maine State House in Augusta. He will be joined by two other anti-gay extremists, Peter (“Porno Pete“) LaBarbera and Paul Madore of the Maine Grassroots Coalition.

According to the group’s press release, “Speakers at the press conference will expose the hidden aspects of the radical homosexual agenda, and will reveal how Maine is being manipulated into voting No on 1.”

Brian Camenker certainly has a knack for making the news. Last October, he an an accomplice, Michael Olivio, were chased by Andover, Mass., police who were responding to 911 calls from parents who were concerned about two men taking pictures at a middle school. For some reason, Olivio thought it would be smart to begin stripping his clothes while running through neighbors’ backyards during the chase:

We don’t know what his intention and purpose was around the school and the kids,” said police Lt. James Hashem.

But Michael Olivio’s employer has come forward to back up his story. Olivio, 48, works for the anti-gay rights group MassResistance.org. Brian Camenker, head of the group, said Olivio mistakenly went to West Middle School Tuesday to snap pictures instead of the high school.

Camenker said Olivio was to get pictures of the high school because the state Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgendered Youth held a meeting there Monday night.

“I figured I would do a write-up for the Web site and I wanted a picture of the high school,” Camenker said.

All three extremists have plenty of buffoonery in their history. Peter LaBarbera is particularly responsible for publishing among the most vile anti-gay tracts in the entire movement. He has long defended the discredited research of Paul Cameron, who has advocated the quarantining and medical extermination of gay people; he has deep connections with Holocauset revisionist Scott Lively, who insists that Nazism was, at its core, a homosexual movement; and he has openly defended White Supremacists when they assault LGBT people.

This press conference comes squarely on the heals of Stand for Marriage Maine’s attempt to project a softer and kinder image. Jeff Connely Jesse Connolly, Campaign manager for Protect Maine Equality issued a press release denouncing the true face of the anti-gay crowd:

This is not the new face of the Yes campaign, it’s been there all along. They can swap out their TV ads from attacks that have been called baseless by the Maine Attorney General and Maine newspapers across the state, to a gentler, softer approach, but the result is the same. They don’t believe in treating all Maine families equally and these national and local spokespeople represent some of the most vitriolic, anti-gay voices in the country.

“They can’t have it both ways — to pretend to back civil rights, yet stand behind a group like Mass Resistance which is one of only 11 designated anti-gay hate groups listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And they can’t stand behind Peter LaBarbera who has attacked Ben & Jerry’s, supported rescinding women’s right to vote and believes we should return to the Old Testament where gay people were stoned. And they can’t stand behind Paul Madore and the Maine Grassroots Coalition which is behind some of the most anti-gay hate speech over the last 20 years.

The Push Is On For Equality

Jim Burroway

October 28th, 2009

We are just one week away from a very important election in three states. We are hearing that the National Organization for Marriage is making last-minute dumps of huge amounts of cash in Washington and Maine, while Kalamazoo, Michigan is facing a tremendous onslaught of misleading ads against their non-discrimination ordinance, which is also up for a vote. Not only can you contribute, but you can help out with phone banking — right from your own home or wherever you happen to be. The following message from the Courage Campaign is being carried by LGBT bloggers nationwide, including Box Turtle Bulletin. Please do what you can today and in the coming days to ensure that on November 3, there will be no regrets.

Washington:
Who we are: Approve Referendum 71 is the campaign to preserve domestic partnerships in Washington State. By voting to approve, voters retain the domestic partnership laws that were passed during this year’s legislative session, including using sick leave to care for a partner, adoption rights, insurance rights, and more.

What we need: We need phone bankers to get our supporters out to vote. Washington is an all mail-in ballot state, and we need to ensure our supporters put their ballots in the mail. Also, youth turnout is a critical component of our campaign, and youth turnout historically drops in off-year elections. So we need a lot of help to turn them out.

How you do it: Sign up here to make remote calls for Approve 71. We’ll then contact you for a training, and you can make GOTV calls.

Maine:
Who we are:
The No On 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign is working to protect Maine’s recently-passed law legalizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. Our opponents have put the issue on the ballot for Nov 3, 2009. Because of Maine’s early voting election laws, people are already voting at the polls, so we need help immediately to turn out our side at the polls.

What we need: We need you to devote a few hours to Call for Equality. Call for Equality is a virtual phonebank set up so that you can call Maine voters wherever you are. Much of Maine is rural, where canvassing isn’t effective, so we need to reach these voters- along with other supporters- by phone. All you need is a phone and internet connection. No experience required! We’ll provide the training, and all you need is a a few hours to help get a win in Maine.

How you do it: Click here to sign up for a training and your shift. There are lots of times available for your convenience.

Goal ThermometerKalamazoo, MI:
Who We Are: The Yes on Ordinance 1856 / One Kalamazoo campaign is working in Michigan to support the City Commission of Kalamazoo’s twice approved ordinance for housing, employment, and public accommodation protections for gay and transgender residents. Opponents forced a public referendum on the ordinance so dedicated local volunteers, led by former Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jon Hoadley, are working to ensure voters say YES to fairness and equality and keep Ordinance 1856.

Why The Urgency: In the final weeks, the opposition has gone all out with aggressive disinformation and misleading red herrings to try to defeat the ordinance. This includes signs that say “No to Discrimination” (even though voting No actually supports continued discrimination of GLBT residents), transphobic door hangers and fliers, and now radio ads that falsely suggest that criminal behavior will become legal when this simply isn’t true. The Yes on Ordinance 1856 supporters are better organized but many voters who want to vote for gay and transgender people are getting confused by the opposition.

How To Help:
1) Help the One Kalamazoo campaign raise a final $10,000 specifically dedicated to fight back against the lies on the local TV and radio airwaves and fully fund the campaign’s final field and GOTV efforts.

Give here: http://www.actblue.com/page/3-2-1-countdown

2) If you live nearby and can physically volunteer in Kalamazoo sign up here. If you know anyone that lives in Kalamazoo, use the One Kalamazoo campaign’s online canvass tool to remind those voters that they need to vote on November 3rd and vote YES on Ordinance 1856 to support equality for gay and transgender people.

Contact voters: http://www.onekalamazoo.com/tellfriends2

Poll Shows Maine’s Q1 Losing, Yes Side Shifts Gears

Jim Burroway

October 27th, 2009

We have more details on that poll on Maine’s Question 1. The poll is the Pan-Atlantic SMS Group’s final 2009 tracking poll (PDF: 227 KB/13 pages) on questions being put before Maine voters next week, and the news is very encouraging. Compared to a similar poll conducted two weeks ago, their statewide sample of 400 likely Maine voters on Question 1 breaks down this way:

  October 14 October 26
Vote YES 40.9% 40.0%
Lean YES 2.0% 1.5%
Vote NO 50.6% 51.8%
Lean NO 1.2% 0.8%
Undecided 5.2% 6.0%
Margin of error: 4.9%

Given the large margin of error, this shows things to be relatively stable. Despite all the fearmongering attack adds the YES side have been throwing at Maine voters, the NO side continues to hold a significant lead. Maybe that’s why Stand for Marriage Maine has decided to shift their tone with their latest television ad:

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The tone is much less menacing, but the message is still there, softened with the assurance that “we want to be tolerant of gays.” Calling Maine’s second-class domestic partnerships adequate for LGBT couples, this ad claims that “it’s possible to support the civil rights of all citizens and protect traditional marriage at the same time.”

The ad includes text from Maine’s Office of Health Data and Program Management, which administers Maine’s Domestic Partnership Registry, which states that “registered domestic partners are accorded a legal status similar to that of a married person with respect to matters of probate, guardianships, conservatorships, inheritance, protection from abuse, and related matters.”

But the act is actually very limited. Click on either of the links for “Instructions and Information for the Domestic Partnership Registry,” and you’ll find this notice:

It is important to remember that a registered domestic partnership is NOT the same as a marriage and does not entitle partners to rights other than those for which the registry was intended. This registry is intended to allow individuals to have rights of inheritance as well as the rights to make decisions regarding disposal of their deceased partners remains.

In other words, most of these these so-called “benefits” only kick in when one of the partners is seriously ill or dead. And somehow I get the impression that this is exactly the way they want it.

Poll: Good News on Question 1

Timothy Kincaid

October 27th, 2009

From the Bangor Daily News:

In the most closely watched race on the Nov. 3 ballot, Question 1, the latest survey results from Portland-based Pan Atlantic SMS Group show the effort to repeal Maine’s same-sex marriage law trailing.

Roughly 40 percent of respondents indicated they would vote to repeal versus 52 percent in support of allowing same-sex couples to marry. That is a slightly larger gap than a Pan Atlantic poll from earlier this month.

But polls don’t decide elections; voter turnout decides elections. So please do everything you can to help Mainers in their efforts to keep freedom and equality as more cherished values rather than bigotry and oppression.

Maine’s “Yes” Side Claims LGBT Groups Contributed $5 Million to Defeat Question 1

Jim Burroway

October 25th, 2009

This is amazing. Stand for Marriage Maine’s web page says this:

Your support will help us stand up to the vast network of wealthy homosexuals with seemingly unlimited resources from places like Hollywood, New York and Massachusetts. Washington, D.C.’s largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization has already pledged to spend as much as $5 million to try to defeat us.

Five million dollars from the Human Rights Campaign? Let’s review. According to campaign filings by both sides, Protect Maine Equality’s three largest donors are:

  • Portland resident Donald Sussman, $500,000.
  • The Human Rights Campaign, $220,000.
  • The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, $140,000.

These three contributions altogether make up only 22% of Protect Maine Equality’s total budget. The rest has come from ordinary contributors like you.

Now let’s look at Stand for Marriage Maine. Their top three contributors are:

  • National Organization for Marriage: $1.5 million.
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland: $550,000.
  • Focus On the Family: $114,500.

Altogether, these three organizations alone have provided 83% of Stand for Marriage Maine’s total budget.

Who’s trying to buy an election while pulling the wool over the eyes of Maine voters?

The Campaign in Maine

Jim Burroway

October 25th, 2009

Matt-ForemanMatt Foreman writes:

As the campaign in Maine enters the home stretch, our skeevy opponents have unleashed yet another ad claiming that unless marriage equality is overturned, same-sex marriage will be “pushed” on elementary school children.

Our side has responded with calm, rebutting the attacks with facts, statements from authoritative figures, and appeals to higher values. Sadly, that approach has been condemned by well-respected figures in our community, including Andrew Sullivan, Mike Tidmus, the Box Turtle Bulletin and the Bay Area Reporter.

Condemned? Hardly. I think there’s a big difference between condemnation and constructive criticism. That said, I do remain concerned that Protect Marriage Equality is playing defense rather than controlling the parameters of debate. Stand for Marriage Maine’s Frank Schubert has made Question 1 not about marriage equality, but about education. We have the opportunity to turn the election about something else, and that’s fairness. Not just fairness for LGBT families, which I believe most voters really don’t have a vested interest in (like they do with education). But fairness in terms of the caliber of debate carried out by our opponents. Nobody likes to be duped, and that’s exactly what Stand for Marriage Maine is trying to do. That, and buy an election outright. Is that what Mainers really want?

I plan on returning to this topic more fully in a later post, hopefully tomorrow or Tuesday. On the positive side, let me repeat this: Protect Maine Equality is doing an amazing job with their grass-roots effort, perhaps the best I’ve seen yet. So read Matt’s piece and donate or volunteer today. Remember, the rule is still in effect: people who sit on the sidelines have no right to criticize.

NOM Doubles Its Maine War Chest, Claims Special Rights

Jim Burroway

October 24th, 2009

The Bangor Daily News reports that Stand for Marriage Maine, the group pushing to strip LGBT Mainers of their right to marry, has almost doubled its war chest in the past three weeks. They raised $1.4 million in October, bringing their total amount raised to $2.6 million, according to reports filed Friday with the Maine Ethics Commission. Guess where the money came from:

But $1.1 million of the $1.4 million raised by Stand for Marriage Maine in October came from a single source: the National Organization for Marriage. In fact, the Washington, D.C., organization has bankrolled more than 60 percent of the campaign to ban same-sex marriages in Maine.

The No on 1 campaign, meanwhile, claims to have received contributions from more than 22,000 donors, compared to slightly more than 700 donors to the opposing camp.

This brings NOM’s total investment to $1.5 million, according to the Associated Press. By my calculations, that’s actually 58% of the total. But still, that’s pretty amazing. One out-of-state special interest group is trying to purchase an election, lock, stock and barrel.  The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has contributed a total of $550,000 to the “yes” campaign. Another $114,500 came from Focus On the Family. Together, these three groups alone account for 83% of Stand for Marriage Maine’s total budget.

And yet, despite the fact that the National Organization for Marriage is paying the lion’s share of the bill, they are in court demanding that they be held above Maine’s financial disclosure laws:

NOM’s financial role in the Maine campaign will be discussed in federal court in Portland on Monday when a judge hears arguments in a complaint the group filed against the state.

Earlier this month, the Maine Ethics Commission voted 3-2 to investigate whether NOM was skirting campaign finance laws in order to avoid disclosing the identities of contributors. A complaint against NOM alleges the organization, which played a key role in overturning California’s gay marriage law last November, funnels money to Stand for Marriage Maine while promising donors confidentiality.

NOM responded earlier this week by challenging the constitutionality of Maine’s law requiring “ballot question committees” to file detailed campaign finance reports.

Protect Maine EqualityMeanwhile, campaign finance reports also show that Protect Maine Equality has raised more than $4 million so far. This includes $1.4 million raised in October, matching Stand for Marriage Maine’s fundraising from the same period. While the nearly 80% of the Yes side’s money during that period came from NOM, most of Protect Maine Equality’s fundraising came from individual donors during the same period.

Protect Maine Equality also reports some large donors, but nothing like the outright attempted purchase of an entire campaign by NOM. According to the Bangor Daily News, Portland resident Donald Sussman has contributed more than $500,000. The Human Rights Campaign kicked in $220,000 in donations and in-kind goods and services, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has contributed about $140,000 in funds, goods, and services.

Altogether, these three major donors make up only 22% of Protect Maine Equality’s total take. The rest, as they say, comes from people like you. Please donate today.

“What Do You Think Our Boys Fought For On Omaha Beach?”

Jim Burroway

October 22nd, 2009

World War II veteran Phillip Spooner of Biddeford, Maine gave this moving testimony on April 22, 2009.

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Click here to read the transcript.

Maine’s Q1 “Yes” Spokesman Admits to Lying

Jim Burroway

October 19th, 2009

Protect Maine Equality has a new ad:

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Meanwhile, Maine Public Broadcasting got an amazing admission from Marc Mutty of Stand for Marriage Maine:

We understand that schools will not be mandated to provide one curriculum or another, but neither will they be discouraged or will they be unable to provide the kind curriculum that they so choose that well could include teaching about same-sex marriage.

… We have never said that schools will be mandated — or, actually, perhaps we did in one ad, or certainly led people to believe that, inadvertently.

Give me a break. These ads are focus-grouped to within an inch of their lives. These people do nothing inadvertently. In fact, they are following Frank Shubert’s playbook to the letter. The Maine Public Broadcasting report was right to say that the “No on 1″ side “veered off message” to address the lies behind Stand for Marriage Maine’s latest ad. This is one of my beefs with the Protect Maine Equality campaign. They are still letting the anti-equality side drive the agenda, and they have yet to put them on the defensive.

Mutty also told Maine Public Broadcasting that they will be branching out into new topics — again, straight out of their playbook. In the last days of California’s Prop 8 campaign, they circulated materials that implied that then-candidate Barack Obama backed Prop 8′s passage. Last week, we saw the President and the White House issue important statements opposing ballot measures to strip LGBT people of their rights. Will Protect Maine Equality use those statements pre-emptively? Or will they wait until Stand for Marriage Maine calls out the next dance card?

We certainly can’t say we didn’t see it coming.

By the way, I donated so I get to bellyache. You can donate too, right here, or you can volunteer.

White House Opposes Anti-Gay Ballot Measures

Jim Burroway

October 16th, 2009

Kerry Eleveld at The Advocate is reporting that the White House has come out against efforts in Maine and Washington state to strip LGBT Americans their marriage and partnership rights:

In response to an inquiry from The Advocate, the White House issued the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s position on same-sex relationship recognition voter referenda in Maine and Washington.

“The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples, and as he said at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, he believes ‘strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.’ Also at the dinner, he said he supports, ‘ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country.’”

Update: This statement builds on what President Barack Obama said at the HRC dinner last weekend:

Will we uphold the ideals on which this nation was founded:  that all of us are equal, that all of us deserve the same opportunity to live our lives freely and pursue our chance at happiness?  I believe we can; I believe we will. And that is why I support ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country.   I believe strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away and passing laws that extend equal rights to gay couples.

Latest Poll: 51.8% Against Maine’s Question 1

Jim Burroway

October 14th, 2009

A new poll from Portland-based Pan Atlantic SMS Group shows that Mainers plan to vote “no” on Question 1 and preserve Marriage Equality in the state. According to a survey of 401 Mainers who identified themselves as “likely” voters in the Nov. 3 election, 51.8% say they will vote “no” on Question 1, and 42.9 plan to vote “yes.”

The margin of error is +/- 4.9%, which means that statistically it’s close to a tie. And given the fact that other polls often show more people saying they will vote for marriage equality than actually do at the polls, this is no time for complacency. Please donate today to preserve marriage equality in Maine.

NOM and Catholic Diocese Provide Almost 2/3rds of “Yes on Q1″ Budget

Jim Burroway

October 14th, 2009

As we reported earlier, the October financial statements are in for the Maine campaigns for Question 1, and the “No” side to preserve marriage equality is doing quite well in fundraising. They’ve raised about $2.7 million as of the first of October. Meanwhile, the “yes” side who is trying to overturn Maine’s same-sex law had raised only $1.1 million. But because opinion polls show that Maine voters are evenly split on Question 1, Stand for Marriage Maine brags that “Mainers won’t be bought.”

But who’s trying to do the buying? The Associated Press buried that answer in the last two paragraphs of this article:

Most of the NO on 1 contributions ranged from $25 to $500. The group reported nearly $42,000 in in-kind contributions from Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.

Stand for Marriage’s report listed numerous contributions in the $100 to $500 range. Among its biggest contributors were the National Organization for Marriage of Princeton, N.J., which accounted for about $425,000, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, which gave more than $270,000.

That makes $695,000 of Stand for Marriage Maine’s $1.1 million — almost two-thirds — coming from just two powerful groups: The National Organization for Marriage and the Diocese of Portland. You can bet that now that everyone knows that Stand for Marriage Maine is behind in the fundraising sweepstakes, more groups like Focus On the Family and others will throw their weight into the battle. That’s why your donations are more important now than ever. Please, donate today.

Financial Statements Filed for Maine’s Question 1

Jim Burroway

October 13th, 2009

Today was a filing deadline for Maine’s campaign financial statements. Protect Maine Equality has announced that they have collected $2.7 million to defeat Question 1. Thanks to everyone who donated.

Despite the special collections in Catholic parishes throughout the state, the “Yes” side represented by Stand for Marriage Maine has raised only $1.1 million. They’re not happy. You can count on the campaign getting uglier with more national anti-gay groups putting their muscle into their fundraising efforts.

These numbers are as of Oct 1, so they are already two weeks old.  And while there was a significant funding disparity, the p0lling data shows Maine voters to be evenly split. Question 1 can still very easily go against us. This is not time to be complacent.

Donate today, and don’t wait until tomorrow. Most campaigns lock in their final spending plans based on what they have by mid-October. As a practical matter, it becomes increasingly difficult to spend whatever money they collect after mid-October because of the lead time needed to develop new messages, shoot commercials, buy airtime, and purchase other campaign materials for the election. That’s why money today is more important to Protect Maine EQuality than money next week or two weeks from now. So please, donate today.

Catholic Group Demands Maine Ad’s Withdrawal

Jim Burroway

October 13th, 2009

Remember the ad featuring the Catholic Grandma advocating for marriage equalityon behalf of her son and grandson? Apparently Catholics aren’t allowed to express an opinion. CatholicVoteAction.org, a conservative group out of Chicago, is demanding that the ad be taken down, claiming that it distorts Catholic teaching. It doesn’t, of course. It represents one woman’s ability to integrate her faith with her family, which we all know is a very dangerous thing for people who fight against families like hers. To these people, standing up for your own grandson cannot be tolerated. After all, that would be anti-family.

New Protect Maine Equality Ad: Mom

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2009

“I’ve been a Catholic all my life. My faith means a lot to me. Marriage, to me, is a great institution that works, and it’s what I want for my children, too.”

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What do you think? Will it sway any voters? If so, who? If no, why not?

Critiques (positive and negative) welcome, but complaints will get rasberried  –  unless you’re a donor or a  volunteer.

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