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Posts for October, 2009

Protect Maine Equality Won’t Score A Touchdown If They Keep Playing Defense

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Jim Burroway

October 8th, 2009

Protect Maine Equality has just released another ad. It answers an ad put out by the yes side which criticizes the book, Who’s in a Family? and pushes the false idea that schools will be forced to teach about homosexuality to young children, and by implication, details about sex. Maine’s latest ad answers that charge:

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It’s a good ad, but I’ve got to be honest. I’m worried about the direction this campaign is going. No good general would ever dream of allowing his enemy to choose the terrain of battle, but that is exactly what the Protect Maine Equality is doing. Frank Schubert, the campaign manager behind Maine’s Yes on 1 is still calling the shots, and the “No” side is dancing to his tune.

Karen Ocamb’s brilliant post “Swiftboating Same-Sex Marriage In Maine” should be required reading for everyone who runs a campaign like this. She lays out exactly how Schubert orchestrated the passage of Prop 8 in California, and he’s playing from the very same playbook in Maine. And Protect Maine Equality is following right along.

Frank Schubert knows that the average voter doesn’t care that much about same-sex marriage. Any given voter may be for or against it, but it’s not necessarily high enough of a priority for them to be motivated to take time out of their busy day in unpredictable weather to vote in an off-year election. Maine voters must believe that they have a personal stake in the outcome, and Schubert is giving them that personal stake by picking on education. He doesn’t care if they’re for or against marriage; he’s making them vote on education. He’s changing the subject and putting Protect Maine Equality on the defensive. Our challenge is to give Maine voters a personal stake in seeing Question 1 fail. So far, I haven’t seen that argument being made.

But that’s pretty much how every campaign to date has gone. There has been one team playing offense and one defense. The problem with that is the only way the defensive team can win is that it has to hope the offense fumbles. Otherwise, it’s the offense driving to the goal line every time.

I can think of only one campaign in which the “No” side took the offense and stuck with it. That was in Arizona in 2006. And guess what? The marriage amendment failed that year, and that still remains only time such an effort to legislate inequality has ever been defeated. And it failed precisely because the average Arizona voter was given a personal stake in the outcome (i.e. unmarried straight senior citizens losing partnership benefits). And in 2008, Arizona again provided the perfect textbook case because that’s when the “Yes” side grabbed the offense early and never look back. And you know what happened then. Same with California and Florida.

I hope very soon we’ll see some ads which does two things. It has to not only change the topic of the campaign, but it also has to put the Yes side on the defensive for a change and give Maine voters a personal stake in the outcome. The last thing we need is another ad that says, “Nu-uh, we’re not that bad.” And unfortunately as much as we’d like to believe otherwise, just taking about equality won’t do it either. It’s taking the offense that wins games, battles, and elections. We need to suit up and get our offensive game on.

Maggie’s Money to be Investigated

Timothy Kincaid

October 1st, 2009

Fred Karger stands as an example of what you can do if you have determination, a moral cause, and the confidence to act on it.

It is Fred who has been leading the boycott against Doug Manchester’s Grand Hyatt in San Diego. Manchester undoubtedly regrets funding the signature collection process for Proposition 8 and he serves as a warning to those who may wish to contribute heavily against efforts to overturn the marriage ban.

Fred also was a significant player in the effort to identify the contributers to Proposition 8, a project that revealed the extent to which the Mormon Church organized, funded, staffed, and controlled the anti-gay marriage campaign. You can be sure that religious institution considers Karger as one of their least favorite people.

And now Fred is taking on Maggie Gallagher and her National Organization for Marriage.

Earlier this year Fred accused NOM of being a front group for the Mormon Church. He provided secret documents illustrating how the church set up other front groups in the past and drew comparisons to NOM. While NOM has denied such a connection, they have illegally refused to provide their tax filings and have retaliated by deposing Fred and demanding every document relating to his efforts.

But Fred is undaunted. He is challenging the way in which anti-gay activists are funding their efforts to block marriage equality in Maine. And, in a hearing today, it is working (Portland Press Herald)

The state ethics commission voted 3-2 today to order an investigation of the fundraising efforts by the National Organization of Marriage, a Washington, D.C.,-based organization that has given money to fight same-sex marriage in Maine.

Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate filed a complaint with the commission saying the group should be required to disclose the names of donors. In response, Brian Brown, executive director of NOM, said they have not raised money specifically for Maine and therefore are not required to report individual donors.

Fred provided solicitations from NOM that seem to clearly illustrate that Brown is lying.

Another New “No on 1″ Ad

Timothy Kincaid

September 25th, 2009

The No on 1 Campaign has another new ad out and rather than being in response to the anti-gay campaign, this one takes the issue on directly.

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“People have a right to live how they want to live”

Protect Maine Equality Responds Again: Outsiders Trying To Harm Our Kids

Jim Burroway

September 25th, 2009

It’s good to see a pro-equality campaign taking the offensive — and not taking lies lying down. Now go here and help them blanket the airwaves.

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No On 1′s Response: “Outsiders Are Trying to Harm Our Kids”

Jim Burroway

September 24th, 2009

This is how Mainers deal with outsiders who try to lie to them. Protect Maine Equality calls them out:

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How about showing those folks fighting for equality in Maine some love?

Maine’s Fear-Mongering Echo Chamber

Jim Burroway

September 23rd, 2009
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Maine “Yes On 1″ Ad Recycles California Ads, Casts Activist As “Teacher”

Jim Burroway

September 22nd, 2009

We alerted you earlier today that the folks at Stand for Marriage Maine were about to reveal a new television ad, and that they promised to repeat talking points that they had already acknowledged as lies. Well, here it is:

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It’s an almost word-for-word copy of this 2008 commercial for California’s Prop 8. The only difference is a that Charla Bansley was cast in the role of “teacher, Ellsworth, Maine.” And who is Charla Bansley? She’s no ordinary run-of-the-mill school teacher. Sharp-eyed Jeremy Hooper has the scoop:

In truth, Ms. Bansley is the state director of the Concerned Women For America of Maine, and has appeared onstage at many Stand For Marriage Maine rallies. She has made her interest clear time and time again.

And while she is a teacher, she doesn’t teach at a public institution. She teaches at Calvary Chapel Christian School. A Christian school where she is already freely stifling pro-gay speech, at least according to one of her very own students.

Stand For Marriage Maine Announces Second TV Ad; Self-Confessed Lies Will Continue

Jim Burroway

September 22nd, 2009

Stand for Marriage Maine has issued a press release announcing a teleconference tomorrow to reveal their second television ad, which they’ve titled, “Everything To Do With Schools.”  Based on that title, it appears that the group supporting Maine’s Question 1 to rescind that state’s marriage equality law is hell-bent on pressing the line that they’ve already admitted was false. Here’s the description of their second ad from their press release:

Stand for Marriage Maine will launch its second statewide television ad on September 23, 2009, directly depicting the impact on children’s education should LD 1020 become law.

Michael Heath Resigns From Christian Civic League of Maine

Jim Burroway

September 22nd, 2009

Michael HeathAccording to this announcement, Michael Heath resigned from the Christian Civic League of Maine yesterday. This is the guy who thought acceptance of gays were responsible for the recession. The announcement posted on the Maine Family Policy Council web site acknowledges Heath as “a lightning rod,” but doesn’t say why he’s leaving except to indicate that he will work as a private consultant. He’s had this gig since 1994. I’m sure there’s much more to the story than meets the eye.

Maine Marriage Equality Opponents: Yeah, We’re Lying

Jim Burroway

September 22nd, 2009

Maine voters are being alerted to several blatant falsehoods put forward by supporters of Question 1, the ballot measure to rescind Maine’s recently enacted Marriage Equality bill. The Bangor Daily News editorial staff last week denounced those falsehoods:

Opponents of the law are bringing children into the fray, suggesting their innocence would be sullied if the repeal fails. It’s a ploy that has been used effectively before; any candidate for elected office who supports sex education is said to favor handing out condoms to kindergarten children. This time, the claim by repeal proponents is that schools would be forced to teach “gay sex education.” It is baseless and betrays an ignorance about education.

…So, the question that remains about the repeal proponents is: Are they knowingly misleading people by claiming schools will be forced to teach the details of gay sex, or are they genuinely ignorant that same-sex couples are among us, and that their children are in our schools?

The Daily News editors asked a very important question, which Portland television station WMTW answered yesterday: Marriage Maine is knowingly misleading Maine voters:

Part of the TV commercial includes a line, “Homosexual marriage taught in public schools whether parents like it. Vote yes on question one.”

…According to the Department of Education, no specific curriculum language exists or would exist that instructs schools to teach about marriage. There are guidelines for students to discuss their own health in context of family life, but nothing explicit. The exact lesson plans are created by an individual school system, some of which already talk about heterosexuality and homosexuality.

Those who made the commercial said the line in the advertisement is not meant to be taken literally. Instead, it’s meant to imply that, in their opinion, if schools currently teach about family life and marriage, discussions about same-sex marriage would likely be included.

…In terms of teaching about marriage in schools, if the issue of same-sex marriage is part of the lesson plan for sex education classes in older grades, parents can opt out of the classes now, according to Maine law — and that would not change. [Emphasis mine]

So get this: those who are act out of their narrow and literall interpretation of the Bible (well, sort of, anyway) don’t want anyone to take their statements literally. The Swiftboating has begun.

Gay Philanthropist Donates $100K To Equality March

Jim Burroway

September 15th, 2009

From the Washington Blade:

Gay philanthropist Bruce Bastian of Utah has donated $70,000 to the National Equality March in D.C. and plans to contribute another $30,000 for the event because he strongly believes it will jump-start the LGBT rights movement.

Jump-start the LGBT rights movement? Nothing will jump-start it like two victories in Maine and Washington, and nothing will deflate it like two more defeats in November. Remember the huge letdown after Prop 8? Or are our attention spans really that short?

I appreciate the passion for the March but it is being foolishly misdirected. Not only are its goals ill-concieved and not thought through, but it’s slated for October 11 when Congress will not be in recess and President Obama will be out of town.

Frankly, this whole March idea may be a great ego boost for the organizers, but it’s incredibly selfish considering the needs of LGBT people who face ballot initiatives right now aimed at stripping them and their families of basic rights. That $130,000 can make a huge difference in those fights, not on the grassy lawn of the Mall while everyone else is out of town.

Please donate to No on 1 in Maine and Approve Ref.71 in Washington.

Non-Churchgoers In Maine, Get Lost

Jim Burroway

September 8th, 2009

This really is all about narrow religions imposing their views on everyone else. According to WBLZ in Bangor, Maine:

Maine’s Catholic church continues to be active in the fight against same sex marriage.

The bishop has asked churches to take up a special second collection next weekend to support Stand For Marriage Maine, the group leading the effort to repeal Maine’s same sex marriage law.

An interesting tidbit appears at the end of that short news brief. Stand for Marriage Main will hold a rally at the Augusta Civic Center on September 13. But you or I probably won’t be able to get in — not unless we pick up free tickets through our local church. Non-churchgoers need not apply.

Maine’s Anti-Gay Marriage Campaign Leader is Completely Insane

Timothy Kincaid

September 3rd, 2009

Mark Mutty, Executive Chairman of the Stand for Marriage coalition, made a most interesting to a reporter from the Maine Public Broadcasting Network:

As a longtime public affairs director for the diocese, Mutty views himself and the coaliton as defending the traditional definition of marriage and the role it plays in society. To redefine it by allowing same-sex couples to marry, Mutty says will lead to curriculum changes in the schools.

“And many certainly feel uncomfortable about that, and the fact that children as young as seven or eight years old are going to be taught about gay sex in some detail.”

Wait… what?!?

If Maine gets marriage equality then seven year old kids will be taught about gay sex in detail?

OK.

That’s completely and entirely irrational. Second graders aren’t taught about straight sex and heterosexuals have been getting married in Maine all year long. No one is going to be telling small children the mechanics of sex between anyone in school.

So either Mutty is a completely delusional nutcase with no cognizance of the world around him and should be put somewhere for his own safety or he’s a bald-faced liar who is seeking to demonize gay people and scare voters with claims that he himself knows to be completely bogus.

Liar or lunatic. There really aren’t any other options.

Maine’s Marriage Equality to go to Vote

Timothy Kincaid

September 2nd, 2009

It’s official.

The Secretary of State’s Office has confirmed that groups opposed to same-sex marriage have gathered enough petition signatures to place a repeal effort on the November ballot. David Farmer, spokesman for Gov. John Baldacci, said that the governor signed a proclamation on Wednesday setting up the Nov. 3 vote.

Protect Maine Equality issued the following statement:

“There’s no surprise here. Everyone knew marriage equality would be challenged by a referendum and that’s why our allies began having conversations with Mainers three years ago. We now have nearly 80,000 Mainers who have pledged their support for equality.

“This was a quarter-of-a-million dollar signature effort by a Michigan firm, and it highlights the stark differences in our campaigns. Their’s is a cynical, pay-for-every signature approach that doesn’t reflect the homegrown values of our state.

“By contrast, we have put our trust in the common sense and fair mindedness of our friends, neighbors and co-workers. And that’s why we believe voters will reject Question 1 because here in Maine, we believe everyone should be allowed to live their lives and be treated equally under the law.”

Maine’s Battle For Marriage Is On

Jim Burroway

July 31st, 2009

The Associated Press reports:

Opponents of Maine’s new gay marriage law have submitted petitions seeking a November referendum on the measure. Leaders of the Stand for Marriage campaign said Friday they collected more than 100,000 signatures of registered Maine voters. Cartons containing the petitions have been turned into the secretary of state’s office to be certified.

To qualify for a November referendum, 55,087 signatures need to be certified by Sept. 4. Meanwhile, a July 17 email from Betsy Smith, senior director of Equality Maine, indicates that $241,000 have already poured into the coffers of marriage opponents, including $160,000 from the National Organization for Marriage, $50,000 from the Knights of Columbus, and $31,000 from Focus On the Family. Now it’s time for us to do our part.

Maine Marriage Update

Timothy Kincaid

July 22nd, 2009

According the the Family Research Council’s website, anti-marriage activists in Maine appear to have collected enough signatures to allow for an adequate buffer.

Mainers are sending a strong message to their elected officials, who voted in May to redefine marriage. Needing roughly 56,000 petition signatures to place a “People’s Veto” of this legislation on the November ballot, the pro-marriage coalition has exceeded all expectations by collecting over 90,000 and counting.

This does not appear, however, to be the total that has been collected and processed but rather those reported to the the anti-gay effort. We should know at the end of the month the actual number that is turned in.

Anti-Gay Maine Campaign’s Lack of Grassroots Funding

Timothy Kincaid

July 15th, 2009

From Bangor Daily News

[Mark Mutty, one of Stand for Marriage Maine’s campaign leaders,] predicted Wednesday that they will file “a very significant amount of signatures well in excess of the minimum” by early August. In addition to [$100,000 from] the Roman Catholic Diocese and [$160,000 from] the National Organization for Marriage, the organization also received $50,000 from the Knights of Columbus in Washington, D.C., and $31,000 from the Focus on the Family Maine Marriage Committee but only $400 from individuals.

Mutty pointed out that his organization’s Web site has only been up for less than two weeks and he predicted that the number of individual donations will increase dramatically as the campaign ramps up.

Well duh. Almost anything would be a dramatic increase over $400.

In contrast

Connolly said Maine Freedom to Marry has already received support from a national organization, in this case, $25,000 from the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. But he pointed out that his organization has already received donations from 352 individuals.

I’m sure this means nothing. But it’s interesting to note that at present the battle is between the big religious institutions and the citizens.

Anti-Gays in Maine Claim 70,000 Signatures

Timothy Kincaid

July 10th, 2009

According to Everyday Christian,

Earlier this week, about 70,000 signatures had been gathered, with more expected, according to Bob Emrich.

Earlier this week, other press was reporting 55,000. I guess we’ll wait and see.

Maine’s Anti-Gay Signature Collecting Update

Timothy Kincaid

July 8th, 2009

Stand For Marriage Maine, the coalition of anti-gay activists who are seeking to overturn Maine’s marriage laws, has announced that they have enough signatures to put their petition on the ballot.

Looking to overturn a bill signed by Governor John Baldacci in May approving same sex marriage, Stand For Marriage Maine announced today that they have collected more than the 55,087 signatures needed to place a People’s Veto on the November ballot and are collecting additional signatures as insurance to meet the deadline to qualify the measure for the 2009 statewide election.

While that makes for a good press release, it doesn’t tell the full story.

As any politico will tell you, a large percentage of the signatures in any collection effort will prove to be invalid for a number of reasons. Some folks are not actually registered to vote, are registered at a different address, are registered under a different name, or provide an illegible signature. Some will agree to sign but will put down a fake name. So petitioners always collect enough extra names to have a substantial cushion.

In mid June, Bob Emrich, the head of the effort, set a goal of collecting 80,000 signatures by the middle of July. At that time they had about 12,000 already collected.

It now appears that they are not on schedule to meet their goal. By now they should have collected a total of 63,000 signatures. And to reach 80,000 by next week, they will have to collect 25,000 signatures, or nearly half of what they collected in the past month. And at this point each additional signature will be harder to get than the one before.

However, it is still very likely that the campaign can meet its goals. The projected cushion of 25,000 is aggressive; and a campaign can usually assume that a 20-25% cushion is adequate and that may well be within their means. And as the campaign doesn’t actually have to turn in the signatures until the end of the month, they can use the extra weeks for signature collection rather than for verification.

But it is encouraging to see that their efforts are not proving to be a smooth or easy as they anticipated. As I said in June, we need to hope for their failure and plan for their success.

An Unequal Flag For Unequal Citizens

Jim Burroway

July 6th, 2009

This six star “Flag of Equal Marriage” represents the six states which have marriage equality, by order of their entry into the Union. The stars are arranged according to the order in which each state was admitted to the union, skipping over the states that do not have marriage equality. The six stars represent:

  • Connecticut – #5.
  • Massachusetts – #6.
  • New Hampshire – #9 (Effective Jan 1, 2010)
  • Vermont – #14 (Effective Sep 1, 2009)
  • Maine – #23 (Effective of Sep 14, 2009)
  • Iowa – #29

If this flag had been around in 2008, we would have seen California’ star (#31) go dark. There’s a move on right now to darken Maine’s star in November.

[Hat tip: David Schmader]

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