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Posts for November, 2012

NOM Reacts

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

Nope. Nothing historic to see here:

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), released the following statement today:

“Obviously we are very disappointed in losing four tough election battles by narrow margins. We knew long ago that we faced a difficult political landscape with the four marriage battles occurring in four of the deepest-blue states in America. As our opponents built a huge financial advantage, the odds became even steeper. We ran strong campaigns and nearly prevailed in a very difficult environment, significantly out-performing the GOP ticket in every state.

Despite the fact that NOM was able to contribute a record amount to the campaigns (over $5.5 million), we were still heavily outspent, by a margin of at least four-to-one. We were fighting the entirety of the political establishment in most of the states, including sitting governors in three of the states who campaigned heavily for gay marriage. Our opponents and some in the media will attempt to portray the election results as a changing point in how Americans view gay marriage, but that is not the case. Americans remain strongly in favor of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The election results reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in these very liberal states.

Though we are disappointed over these losses, we remain faithful to our mission and committed to the cause of preserving marriage as God designed it. Marriage is a true and just cause, and we will never abandon the field of battle just because we experienced a setback. There is much work to do, and we begin that process now.”

From 1961 to 2012: Today’s Victories Were A Long Time Coming

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

Fifty-one years ago today, José Sarria, a drag performer at San Francisco’s famed Black Cat bar, lost his bid for election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Desite the loss, his election was historic as an openly gay candidate stood for election for the first time. Sarria earned nearly 6,000 votes, putting him in nineth place city-wide in a contest for five at-large seats. Ninth out of thirty-four, which mean that, as Sarria later recalled, “From that day on, nobody ran for anything in San Francisco without knocking on the door of the gay community.”

Fifty-one years later, the long-unimaginable happened. A president ended a ban on gays in the military, ordered his Justice Department to stop defending the DOMA, and announced his full support for the rights of everyone to marry. He was re-elected, against a candidate who was against all of those things. Five openly gay candidates for Congress won their races, and for the first time, a lesbian will sit in the Senate. In none of those races were the candidates’ sexual orientation a major issue.

And after voters in 31 states voted to add bans on same-sex marriage to their state constitutions, Minnesota voters stopped the tide and refused to write discrimination into their organizing document. But that’s not all. Voters in three states (assuming the victory in Washington holds) have gone much further than ever before. Citizens in Maine, Maryland and Washington have given their approval to allow their gay and leasbian neighbors to actually begin marrying in the next couple of months. They didn’t just say no to a permanent ban while existing laws continued to prevent gay people from marrying. They changed existing law so that those marriages can take place.

And they did that at the ballot box. Remember how our opponents always said that every time voters weighted in on marriage , they always voted to deny marriage equality? No more. I would love to be sitting in the offices at the Family “Research” Council and National Organization for Marriage right now. They have seen their era end right before their eyes. But make no mistake: they will also steadfastly refuse to acknowledge its importance.

Right now, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry. By the end of January, two and probably three more states will join them. But in the best case, less than 16% of Americans will live in states with marriage equality. Yes, that’s nearly a third higher now, but it just goes to show how far we still have to go.

It will be generations, I think, before we can win marriage equality throughout the U.S. at the ballot box. In fact, there are some states where that will never happen; it will also take some key court victories before all Americans are created equal. We will undoubtedly experience more losses and setbacks in the years ahead. But every great movement moves forward one step at a time. This was a big step, but it is only the latest one in a long line of just putting one foot in front of the other. We’ve been doing that for more than half a century. But right now it feels pretty good, now that we’re starting to get the hang of it.

Marriage Equality Wins In All Four States!

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

In the very early morning hours, vote tallies in Minnesota and Washington meant that those two states have joined Maryland and Maine in rejecting attempts by anti-gay activists to deny marriage equality to LGBT couples.

Voters in Minnesota rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, making Minnesota the first state to do so since 2006, when Arizona voters rejected a similar ban. (Arizona voters later approved a narrower ban on marriage only in 2008.) With 99% of the ballots counted, 1,504,189 (51.3%) voted against the Amendment 1 while 1,396,879 (47.6%) who voted for it. In addition, there were 31,886 (1.1%) blank ballots cast for Amendment 1. Those were ballots in which voters marked their choices for other races but left the ballot blank for Amendment 1. Because the Minnesota constitution requires that a proposed amendment pass with a majority of all ballots cast, the blank ballots are effectively count as “no” ballots.

In Washington state,the vote counting continues in the all mail-in state, but the news was also good. Referendum 74 was ahead by 985,308 (51.8%) to 917,197 (48.2%). Because a ballot must be postmarked by November 7, the vote count is likely to continue for several more days, but observers are optimistic that Washington will join Maine and Maryland in choosing marriage equality at the ballot box:

The holdup was King County, which still had tons of ballots to count. Still, with 65 percent of King County voters approving R-74 in the initial count, and that trend likely to continue through the full count, seasoned political watchers were predicting victory. “Fifty-two percent, with King County what it is—it’s still time to call Washington State for marriage equality,” said Governor Chris Gregoire.

Similarly, Matt Barreto, who runs the Washington Poll, projected that R-74 would be approved and added that he expected Jay Inslee to be the next governor. “King County delivered both,” Barreto said.

Gregoire, who had a late-career conversion on marriage equality, called her daughters up to the podium at the Westin and thanked them for changing her mind. “They told me, ‘This is the civil rights issue of this generation,’” Gregoire said. “They’re right.”

In related news, voters in Iowa rejected an attempted recall of Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins, who joined in the unanimous 2009 decision which found denying marriage to same-sex couples unconstitutional. Social conservatives had mounted a fierce retention vote campaign to remove Wiggins from the bench. With 83% of the vote counted, Wiggins was retained with 54% of the vote.

These results represent a colossal, historic loss for National Organization for Marriage, anti-marriage strategist Frank Schubert, and anti-gay activists generally. Even if the decision in Washington should be reversed, this day represents a historic turning point in the fight for equality. Not only did voters defeat an attempt to permanently and constitutionally bar same-sex couples from marrying, but for the first time in history voters gave their approval for the right of their LGBT neighbors to protect their families with the rights and duties of legal marriage. There will be wins and loses to come, but future generations will today as the day in which the politics of division and demonization broke down and failed to do what they had reliably been counted on to accomplish before.  We have just seen history being made before our very eyes.

By the way, NOM has been silent so far. No press releases, no blog post. Just this plaintive tweet from about 11:00 p.m. EST last night:

Here is the latest rundown for all four states:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 300,336 (53.3%) √
No: 262,820 (46.7%)
75.5% reporting.

Maine’s Secretary of State has up to 20 days to verify election results, and the governor has 10 days to do the same. After that, there is a 30 day delay before the law to goes into effect. Marriage equality will go into effect sometime between December 7, 2012 (30 days after the election) and January 6, 2013 (60 days after the election).

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 1,208,068 (52.0%) 
No: 1,112,998 (48.0%)
97.5% reporting.

Marriage equality will go into effect on January 1, 2013.

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 1,504,189 (51.3)%  √
Blanks: 31,892 (1.1%)
Yes: 1,396,879 (47.6%)
99.0% reporting.

There will be no change to Minnesota’s marriage law, which currently prohibits marriage between same-sex couples.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 985,308 (51.8)%  √
No: 917,197 (48.2%)
51.3% reporting.

Ballot counting will continue during regular working hours, with updated totals being posted throughout the afternoon for the next several days. If the current lead holds for Ref 74, marriage equality will go into effect on December 6, 2012.

Maine’s Question 1 Wins

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

With 46% of the precincts reporting, Maine’s Question 1, which will allow same-sex couples to marry, ha will be approved and become law according to the Associated Press. As of midnight Eastern Time, Question 1 was leading 182,516 to 152,921 (54.4-45.6%).

Election Liveblog

Jim Burroway

November 6th, 2012

2:00 EST: One more thing:

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Retention Vote:
David Wiggins:
Yes (retain): 54% 
No: 46%
83% reporting.

NOM is having a very bad night. A historically bad night. I’m going to bed now and I will sleep very, very soundly.

1:39 EST: President Obama is now giving his victory speech. And with that, I’m going to sign off for the night. I will provide an update with the latest results again tomorrow morning.

1:30 EST: Here is a rundown of all of the LGBT-related races I’ve been following:

BALLOT MEASURES:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54.2% √
No: 45.8%
58.1% reporting.

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.2% 
No: 48.1%
96.8% reporting.

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 49.2.5%
Blanks: 1.5%
Yes: 49.2%
67.4% reporting.
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.8.9%
No: 48.2%
49.9% reporting.

SENATE RACE:

Wisconsin:
Tammy Baldwin (D, openly lesbian): 51.2%
Tommy Thompson (R): 46.2.%
86.8% reporting.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES:

Arizona:
Kyrsten Sinema (D, openly bi): 47.4%
Vernon Parker (R): 46.3%
86% reporting.

California:
Mark Takano (D, openly gay): 54.4%
John Tavaglione (R): 45.6%
13% reporting.

Colorado:
Jared Polis (D, openly gay): 54.6%
Kevin Lundberg (R): 40.4%
45.3% reporting.

Massachusetts:
Richard Tisei (R, openly gay): 47.1%
John Tierney (D) 48.4%
98.3% reporting.

New York:
Sean Patrick Maloney (D, openly gay): 51.7%
Nan Hayworth (R): 48.3%
96.7% reporting.

Rhode Island:
David Cicilline (D, openly gay): 53.1%
Brendan Dohert (R): 40.7%
97.0% reporting

Wisconsin:
Mark Pocan (D, openly gay): 67.4%
Chad Lee (R): 32.6%
90.5% reporting.

12:55 EST: Gov. Mitt Romney is now giving a very classy consession speech, congratulating President Obama for his win.

12:50 EST: Here is a rundown of the ballot measures addressing same-sex marriage. Voters in two states have approved marriage equality. Voters in Washington are on their way to approving marriage equality, and Minnesota voters look poised to turn down a proposal to write a permanent ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution. After voters in 30 states have written marriage equality bans into their state constitutions, we now have a remarkable turnaround in 2012. Remember this day.

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54% 
No: 46%
51% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52% 
No: 48%
93% Reporting

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 48.5%
Blanks: 3.7%
Yes: 47.9%
53% reporting.
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52%
No: 48%
50% reporting.

12:40 EST: Tammy Baldwin has now given her victory speech. With 79% reporting, she has defeated Gov. Tommy Thompson 51-47%, making her the first openly gay Senator in American history.

12:38 EST: Now I’m ready to call Maryland’s Question 6 a win for equality! With 92% reporting, Question 6 has passed 1,126,598 to 1,050,179 (52-48%) Maryland voters have joined those in Maine to approve marriage equality at the ballot box. I don’t know about you, but this really feels like a truly historic turning point.

12:30 EST: Colorado has now gone to Obama, bringing his lead to 290-201. There’s a lot of talk about whether Ohio was prematurely declared, but even if Ohio went red, this would still be Obama’s victory. An ugly one, especially if he doesn’t win the popular vote, but it is a win.

12:28 EST: Another gay congressman is headed to Washington. Sean Patrick Maloney (D) has defeated Rep. Nan Hayworth (R), 52%-48%.

12:15 EST: Believe it or not, Politico has had the results swapped between Question 6 and the “Illegal immigrant tuition” question all night long. For the love of god!!!  Question 6 is up, but only 52-48%, way too early to call.

12:00 EST: With 44.1% reporting in Maine, Question 1 is projected to win!

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54.4%
No: 45.6%
44.1% Reporting

11:45 EST: With 81% reporting in Maryland, Question 6 is projected to win!

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
81% Reporting

11:31 EST: Remember James Hartline?

I took my Bible with me today and proudly honored God with my decisions. I refused to vote for the demonized Mormon Cultist Mitt Romney or Obama. Instead, like nearly two million other voters, I marked other and wrote in Jesus.

11:30 EST: Has Tammy Baldwin won her Senate race? Reuters called it, but right now with 53% reporting, she is only up 49-48%. She may yet win, but it looks like a lot of folks might have jumped the gun a bit.

11:23 EST: CNN has given Ohio to Obama. President Barack Obama, the most pro-gay president in American history, has been re-elected.

11:05 EST: A slew of new projections has put Obama on top 243-191. Ohio continues to lean toward Romney, but CNN is now mapping out multiple possibilities for Obama to win even without Ohio.

Here are the state marriage ballot measures. All of them are still looking good so far.

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 53%
No: 47%
30% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
55% Reporting

Minnesota: Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 52%
Blanks: 3.8%
Yes: 45%
19% Reporting
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

10:55 EST: Obama is now tied with Romney, 172-172. Ohio is leaning toward Obama, and FLorida and Virginia are very nearly tied so far. It’s going to be a long night.

10:35 EST: Great news so far in the three states with marriage on the ballot that are reporting:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 55%
No: 45%
16% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 60%
No: 40%
41% Reporting

Minnesota: Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 57%
Blanks: 1.5%
Yes: 42%
7% Reporting
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

10:25 EST. In Rhode Island, it looks like openly gay Rep. David Cicilline has defeated Republican challenger Brendan Doherty. With 82% reporting, Cicilline is ahead 50-44%.

In Massachusetts, Richard Tisei is trailing in his question to become the first openly gay Republican congressman. Rep. John Tierney is leading 49-47% with 58% reporting.

10:15 EST: We can celebrate Tammy Baldwin’s win now. Fox News is projecting that she will be the new fabulously openly lesbian Senator from Wisconsin. History is made!

Question 1 in Maine is now tightening. With 11% reporting, it is now up 53-47%.

10:00 EST: Mitt Romney has won his home state of Utah. But he lost New Hampshire

With 7% reporting, Question 1 is passing in Maine, 55-45%.

With 23% reporting, Question 6 is passing in Maryland, 61-39%.

With only 3% reporting, Amendment 1 is trailing in Minnesota. 61-38%, with about 1.5% of the ballots blank for the proposed amendment. Blank ballots are will be counted as no votes.

9:45 EST: CNN Projects Elizabeth Warren (D) has unseated Scott Brown (R) in Massachusetts, and JOe Donnelly (D) has defeated Richard Mourdock (R) in Indiana. God’s will, you know. These are both pick-ups for Dems.

9:42 EST: NBC and Fox have given Wisconsin to Obama. CNN has finally given Pennsylvania to Obama also.

9:35 EST: The Associated Press has declared Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) the winner in her Senate race against former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), making Baldwin the first openly gay Senator in U.S. history. Oops, take that back. The AP has NOT called for Baldwin.

9:20 EST: Fox called Pennsylvania for Obama. I’ll take it.

9:15 EST: Vote counts for Maryland’s Question 6 and Maine’s Question 1 are excruciatingly slow. With 3% counted in Maine, Question 1 is trailing 4,253-5,362. In Maryland, Question 6 is passing 192,860-157,767 with only 1% of the vote counted. Obviously with vote tallies this low, it’s way to early to see any trends.

9:00 EST: Polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Last polls close in Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Texas. And with it, a whole slew of new projecitons, mostly lining up with expectations. So far, it looks like the red states are going heavily red, while the blue states are slower to come in. Right now, Romney is up 152-123.

CNN says that the Republicans will hold on to the House. Obama is getting a lot of grief for not campaigning in key House races on behalf of Democratic candidates.

8:50 EST: Alabama is red. Romney is up 82-64.

People are still in line in Florida and Virginia, even as polls have officially closed. Those who are in line will get to vote. Twitter hashtag #stayinline is now trending upward. It sure would have been nice if someone had mentioned to Florida and Virginia election officials that they were supposed to be ready for an election today.

8:30 EST: Polls just closed in Arkansas, which CNN has called for Romney. CNN has also called Tennessee as well, putting Romney ahead 73-64.

So far, only about 1% of the results are in for Maryland’s Question 6 and Maine’s Question 1, which means that there aren’t enough results to talk about yet.

8:25 EST: In the Senate races, it looks like the Angus King, the independent candidate for Maine’s Senator to replace Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) is headed to Washington. He hasn’t said which party he will caucus with, but most observers expect that he will caucus with the Dems. Another possible pickup for the Dems might be Joe Donnelly, who is leading Richard Mourdock by 50-44% with 30% of the votes counted. Mourdock, you may recall, got in trouble during the debate when he said that when a child is born as a result of rape, it’s God’s will.

8:16 EST: Georgia now goes to Romney, bringing the EC count to 64-56 for Obama.

8:00 EST: Polls have now closed in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

CNN has called a Delaware, DC, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for Obama, and Oklahoma for Romney. This puts Obama up 64-40 in the Electoral College, with Maine splitting its vote 3-1 for Obama. (Nebraska is the only other state that is not winner-take-all in the Electoral College.)

Virginia officially closed but:

Polls closed in Virginia at 7 p.m. ET, but with long lines at polling places around the state — and those in line still able to vote — the state is delaying counting votes so as not to unduly influence those still waiting in line. Smart move.

7:43 EST: CNN has now called South Carolina and West Virginia for Romney. Not much of a surprise. It’s now Romney, 33-3 in the electoral count.

Polls close in Maryland and Maine at 8:00. Hopefully we’ll start to get an early look at the marriage ballot measures in those states soon after.

7:30 EST: Polls have now closed in North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia. CNN’s exit poll has Obama up by 3 in Ohio and tied in North Carolina.

7:19 EST: CNN has called Kentucky for Romney, and Vermont for Obama, which means that Romney leads the electoral college count 8-3. And we’re off!

7:00 EST: Polls have closed in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. First results will probably begin within the half hour. Here are the races I’ll be watching, in addition to the presidential election and any others you think I should keep an eye out for.

Consider the comments thread for this post an open thread, which I’ll be watching for whatever tips you have. And jokes. We may need some jokes. Or videos of cute kittens. Whatever you got. You can also email them by hitting the Contact Us link on the sidebar.

Leader of Maine’s Yes on 1 Campaign Admits to Lying

Jim Burroway

April 18th, 2011

Liar

A new documentary is due to be released this summer which goes behind the scenes of Maine’s 2009 campaign to deny marriage equality for same-sex couples. Documentarians Joe Fox and James Nubile obtained permission to film both camps on the provision that the documentary not air until after the campaign was over. Now that it’s due to air later this year, a trailer for Question One has been posted online, complete with a very candid admission from Yes on 1 campaign chairman Marc Mutty:

We use a lot of hyperbole and I think that’s always dangerous,” says Mutty during a Yes on 1 strategy session, at the time on leave from his job as public affairs director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine.

“You know, we say things like ‘Teachers will be forced to (teach same-sex marriage in schools)!’ ” he continues. “Well, that’s not a completely accurate statement and we all know it isn’t, you know?”

“No,” interjects a woman off-camera. “We don’t say that.”

“Let’s look back at our ads and see what we say,” Mutty persists. “And I think we use hyperbole to the point where, you know, it’s like ‘Geez!’”

Mutty admitted that what they were doing was the equivalent of slamming people over the head with “a two-by-four with nails sticking out of it,” adding, ” it’s the only thing we’ve got — it’s the only way. That’s the way campaigns work.”

Mutty now regrets allowing the filming, worrying that “what impact it will have on my professional life remains to be seen.”

Betsy Smith, the executive director of Equality Maine, summed it all up nicely by observing that opponents’ religious motivations (McNutty was an official with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine) didn’t translate into an ethical campaign:

Still, she said, “sometimes you want to believe that at least they believed in what they were saying. You want to believe that they feel so passionately about religion and tradition that the things they put out there, they believe, are true.”

And now?

“It’s striking to hear them say ‘No, we knew all along that wasn’t true,’” Smith said. “‘We were just hitting people over the head with a two-by-four with nails because that’s the only option we had.’”

Vengeance Is Mine, Says the Bishop of Portland

Jim Burroway

March 24th, 2010

I guess the only cheek the Catholic Church in Maine is interested in turning is… well…

Today’s Portland Press Herald reports that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine and the Washington-based Catholic Campaign for Human Development have yanked a $17,400 grant to Portland-based Preble Street’s Homeless Voices for Justice program, and promise to deny an expected $33,000 for next year. The two organizations say that Preble Street violated its grant agreement by supporting Maine’s “No on 1″ campaign last fall.

Maine voters passed Question 1 and banned same-sex marriage by a 53%-47% margin. But despite that victory, the Catholic Church is still looking backwards to punish its “enemies.”

Homeless Voices for Justice is a statewide advocacy group led by people who had been homeless themselves. Preble Street runs several housing programs and other services for the homeless and poor. They also provide staff support for Homeless Voices for Justice.

Maine’s anti-marriage leader commends the Ugandan Kill Gays bill

Timothy Kincaid

December 10th, 2009

emrichBob Emrich is the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Bible Church in Plymouth, Maine. He was also a campaign leader and spokesman for Stand for Marriage Maine, the organization primarily responsible for the passage of Question 1 which reversed the Maine Legislature’s law enacting marriage equality. Emrich was, in many ways, the voice and face of the anti-gay marriage movement in Maine.

When campaigning against equality for gay Mainers, Emrich tried to portray himself and his organization as being in favor of traditional marriage rather than being anti-gay.

Emrich said he has tried to keep the emphasis on marriage, rather than on “homosexual behavior.”

“At some point, it’s a personal, private matter,” he said. “There’s an obligation on all of us to try to warn and encourage each other away from destructive behaviors and toward healthy behaviors, but we’re always going to debate what those are. When it comes to public policy, that’s not what this bill is regulating. It’s about something more than that.”

But Emrich’s “personal, private” comments may have only been for public consumption in Maine, and his real goals and desires may be something quite other than what he was willing to admit. In fact, Emrich may well favor draconian laws that enact extreme civil punishment of gay men and women.

And Emrich is part of that previously-unknown but amazingly large collection of conservative evangelical Americans who have been investing time and effort in Uganda.

GoodAsYou.org has a copy of an email sent out yesterday by Emrich to those who share his religious and political views.

I have just recently returned from two weeks in Uganda, ministering the Word among village pastors and Churches. It was a refreshing change of pace from the last year spent on the “marriage referendum”. My trip to Uganda took me away from email, cell phones and the internet (also from electricity, running water, etc.). But I was able to see the Spirit of God working apart from the many distractions that we are faced with every day in Maine. I visited almost 20 remote villages and spent time with the believers. One of the common sentiments expressed there was that “in order to have a healthy village, there must be a strong and healthy church”. That is one of the important lessons we have been learning here as well. We will have more to say about that later. But as I work my way back into ministry here at Emmanuel Bible Baptist Church (Plymouth) and with the Maine Jeremiah Project, I wanted to share the following article I found in Uganda’s largest daily newspaper. I had tucked it into my journal and found it yesterday as I reviewed some of my scribbling. I think it speaks for itself, but I hope you will wonder, as I do, where our own culture lost its way.

The article in question is from New Vision which calls itself “Uganda’s leading website”. It rails against the West and in declining morals. The most relevant part is:

One can now shamelessly stand up and tell you: “I do as I please. You have no business in my affairs.” A sodomist can now swear to you that what they do in the privacy of their bedroom does not concern the public.

No wonder when a brilliant MP comes up with a Bill against homosexuality, the human rights activists baptise him an enemy of the people.

It is high time politicians, religious leaders, cultural leaders and all concerned Africans woke up and defended the African heritage against the moral confusion of Western civilisation. This civilisation is eroding African moral pride.

The so-called human rights activists have hijacked the driver’s seat and are sending nations into the sea of permissiveness in which the Western world has already drowned.

Every evil that has penetrated our society comes disguised as a human right and is watered by a group of elites who have attained education in the West. These elites have come back to impose on us practices that our forefathers deemed abominable.

Emrich wonders where our culture, the Western culture, “lost its way”. There simply is no other possible interpretation than that Emrich extols the ideas in the article and wishes that the United States were more like Uganda in such matters.

Let me be clear. It is virtually impossible that Bob Emrich is unaware of the nature of the Ugandan Kill Gays bill. Surely no one who has any interest in Uganda could possibly have missed news coverage of the proposed death penalty for HIV positive gays, life sentences for others, and incarceration of their friends, family and acquaintances.

Yet, as incredible as it seems, Bob Emrich is suggesting that the West has lost its way and that Uganda has important lessons that we need to learn here. I’m finding it difficult to find any interpretation other than that Bob Emrich, the leader of the Yes on 1 Campaign, endorses recriminalization of homosexuality and may even support execution of gays.

So when they tell you that they don’t hate you and that they are only trying to protect the traditional definition of marriage, remember Bob Emrich.

For full coverage on the recent situation in Uganda see here.

Is this wrongful termination?

Timothy Kincaid

December 9th, 2009

Consider for a moment the following scenario.

You work for a private business. An advocacy group issues a statement and sends it to your employer which blames a recent vote on group bias. You respond by sending an email to that group which says:

’Who are the hateful, venom-spewing ones? Hint: Not the [opponents]. You hateful people have been spreading nothing but vitriol since this campaign began. Good riddance!’

Question: how long would you remain employed?

This occurred in Maine following the passage of Question 1. HRC sent a statement to the press, including the Maine Morning Sentinel in Waterville, Maine.

Larry Grard, a journalist for the Sentinel responded by sending the following email to Trevor Thomas, HRC’s deputy communications director:

’Who are the hateful, venom-spewing ones? Hint: Not the yes on 1 crowd. You hateful people have been spreading nothing but vitriol since this campaign began. Good riddance!’

Thomas emailed the editor, “I received the below email this morning after our national media release was sent to your team. … It’s frankly, just not acceptable coming from a news organization the morning after our defeat.” Shortly thereafter, with no further communication with HRC, the editor fired Grard.

Grard says it’s “anti-Christian bias”. What do you say?

Catholic Cardinals around the country funded Maine’s Yes on 1 Campaign

Timothy Kincaid

November 11th, 2009

From the St. Lewis Post Dispatch

Campaign finance records for a ballot measure that last week defeated a law legalizing gay marriage in Maine show that the St. Louis Archdiocese contributed $10,000 toward that effort.

Only two other dioceses in the country – Phoenix and Philadelphia – contributed more ($50,000). The dioceses of Newark, NJ and Youngstown, Ohio also contributed $10,000.

The Catholic church led the charge to reject the new law. In the quarter leading up to the vote, 45 dioceses around the country contributed a total of $180, 550 to the effort, according to the campaign finance records.

You have to wonder whether the poor Catholic widow in St. Lewis who sacrificed to give to her church knew that her money was going to pay for a political campaign in Maine. Or if the Methodist Maine voter knew that the campaign of lies being fed to him was funded by out-of-state Catholic diocese.

In time, American opinion on the civil rights and freedoms of gay citizens will become strongly supportive. I cannot imagine that it will reflect well on the Catholic Church that it spent church funds to fund campaigns designed to deny rights to some Americans.

Although today many “conservatives” can hide behind popular opinion or social status quo, in 20 years it will be very difficult for the Catholic Church to explain how its actions taken this year can be viewed in any context other than religious oppression and bigotry.

And even today, some may find themselves questioning the priorities of the church.

The contribution from the St. Louis Archdiocese was received by the Portland diocese on July 16.

Less than a month earlier, on June 22, the archdiocese eliminated four positions at Catholic Charities, the largest private provider of social services in Missouri. Catholic Charities president, Monsignor Mark Ullrich, said at the time that the job cuts were “due to our need to economically downsize.”

Choosing exclusionary politics over care for the poor does not yield itself to many PR successes. And if that religious institution wasn’t so dedicated to causing harm to my life, I would feel pity.

AFER: Rights Should Not Be Determined By Political Campaigns

Jim Burroway

November 4th, 2009

The American Foundation for Equal Rights has released a statement in response to the outcome of Maine’s Question 1. AFER, you may recall, is behind the Federal court challenge to California’s Proposition 8 by attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies. AFER President Chad Griffen’s statement states what ought to be the obvious (no link):

“Our founding fathers did not intend for people’s Constitutional rights to be determined by political campaigns. The results in Maine underscore exactly why we are challenging California’s same sex marriage ban in federal court. When the Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia, more than 70 percent of Americans disapproved of interracial marriage. The U.S. Constitution guarantees equal rights to every American, and when those rights are violated, it is the role of our courts to protect us, regardless of what the polls say.”

Maine, Gay Rights, and Religion: Can Gay Rights Groups Overcome Their Achilles Heel?

Guest Commentary

Justin Lee

November 4th, 2009

[Justin Lee is Executive Director of The Gay Christian Network, an interdenominational nonprofit organization serving LGBT Christians and changing attitudes in the church. The opinions expressed in this article are solely his own.]

Last night, gay marriage advocates suffered yet another defeat in Maine, in spite of tremendous efforts and optimism.

Today, many of them are asking, “What went wrong?”

The legislature had already passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage, and the governor campaigned in favor of it. Gay marriage supporters, motivated by last year’s defeat in California, had outspent their opponents and worked hard to get out the vote and keep the message positive. Voter turnout was higher than expected, and everyone was optimistic.

So why, in a progressive state like Maine, in a country that so values civil rights, in a world where gay people are highly visible in the media and daily life–why did people turn out in droves to vote against what so many in our community see as a basic civil right?And why have they done so every other time it’s been on the ballot, in 30 other states across the nation?

There’s no single answer, but the simplest one can be summed up in one word: religion.

Religious organizations have poured millions of dollars into campaigns against same-sex marriage. Pastors preach against it every Sunday in churches across America. Ask people who oppose gay marriage why they do so, and you will regularly hear religious arguments and Bible quotes. In the aftermath of Prop 8 in California, much was made of the apparent racial divide in how people voted, but more telling was the impact of the Mormon Church and other religious groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Already, pundits are noting that 37% of Maine’s population is Roman Catholic, a statistic that likely influenced the outcome.

Frankly, anti-gay religious beliefs are the number one obstacle to almost every measure gay rights groups tackle. The single skill that could turn the tables in their favor is the ability to effectively reach people of faith.

So why are so many gay rights groups so shockingly ineffective on matters of faith?

Part of the problem is that many of us in the LGBT community have been so beaten down by religion that we now want nothing to do with it. Worse, some of us have come to see religious faith itself as the enemy.

But even if you have no faith of your own, if you think you’re going to take on American organized religion and win, you’re dead wrong. The vast majority of Americans believe in God, most subscribing to some version of the Christian faith. For many of them, their faith is deeply ingrained and a major influence in their lives. If we allow any issue to be set up as a contest between people’s faith and fair treatment of LGBT people, then we’ve lost already.

The Human Rights Campaign recognized this in 2005 when they created a “Religion and Faith Program” following crushing defeats in 11 state constitutional-amendment battles. Other LGBT groups have also reached out to faith communities in recent years. But it’s not enough. For real change to happen, there are four things the LGBT community must do.

1. Engage people of faith.
Anti-LGBT faith leaders want us to think this is a contest between faith and us. Don’t believe them. There are plenty of devoutly religious Americans who support the LGBT community, and we need to engage them and make sure they’re part of the discussion. Avoiding the subject only hurts us.

And it’s not just our supporters we need to engage, either. We must reach out to those who disagree with us. Remember Stephen Covey’s aphorism, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”? Even those who condemn gay relationships as sinful may still find common ground with us on civil issues if we take the time to understand them and help them understand us.

I should know. I grew up Southern Baptist, came out of the closet, and have spent over a decade building bridges with conservative evangelical Christians, a group many of my LGBT peers have written off as a “lost cause.” The truth is, they’re not homophobic monsters. There are many good, intelligent people in even the most conservative faith groups, and interacting with LGBT people is the only way they’ll grow to understand us.

In his 1993 book A Place at the Table, gay author Bruce Bawer wrote of some gay activists, “They think that their enemy is conscious oppression and that their salvation lies in the amassing of power, when in fact their enemy is ignorance and their salvation lies in increased understanding.” Sixteen years later, the observation is just as true.

2. Think beyond politics.
Yes, some LGBT rights groups are already reaching out to supportive faith communities as part of their overall strategy. But it’s not good enough to simply start with a political goal (say, a piece of legislation) and then shoehorn the faith community in. Those of us in the faith community are good for a lot more than just helping get out the vote.

Think for a moment: If the LGBT community truly has an “agenda,” isn’t it really for current and future generations of LGBT people to be treated fairly, able to live as we see fit, without fear of harassment, violence, and discrimination? That’s a big goal, and achieving it will take more than political action.

To be sure, legislation is an important part of changing the future for the better. But no bill or ballot initiative can eliminate homophobia, hate, or prejudice. Increasing the penalties for hate crimes won’t stop them if churches are preaching hate. And federal marriage rights won’t stop a gay kid from being pressured into a loveless straight marriage by his parents or church.

If we want to make the world a safe place for the next generation, we must do more than change the laws. We must change the culture. So instead of thinking of people of faith as just another voting pool, we need to think about all the ways that faith impacts culture, and how supportive people of faith can help make those changes. Because even if your goals are exclusively political, it’s worth noting that culture shapes the political landscape in big ways.

3. Listen to faith leaders.
As executive director of an LGBT-supportive Christian nonprofit, I’m often in contact with supportive faith leaders from across the country. Over and over again, I’ve heard stories from faith leaders who want to make a positive difference for the LGBT community but feel that their input or support somehow isn’t valued by leaders in the broader movement. But if anti-LGBT religious beliefs are one of the biggest obstacles we face, shouldn’t these supportive faith leaders be some of our top advisors?

Too often, we treat faith leaders as pawns in a political chess game, bringing them out for a photo opportunity or asking them to sign a letter in support of a cause. They are capable of so much more. They have insights into how people within their faith group think, and they could help us build strategies to reach those people. In some cases, they may already have strategies in place that need our help to be implemented. We just need to ask them and sincerely listen to what they have to say.

4. Tailor the message.
A politician running for office doesn’t just give the exact same speech over and over; he or she tailors it to the audience. A union representing blue collar workers in the deep South has different concerns from a group of wealthy business leaders in Los Angeles.

The same holds true for people of faith. Different faiths, denominations, and sects have different beliefs and different concerns. Reaching each of them requires learning to understand them and speak their language.

A common mistake many LGBT groups make is to simply put together an interfaith “panel” of leaders to represent many different faith traditions, then have them give a joint statement of some sort and think they’ve reached the faith community. But this approach is most likely to appeal to those who already supported the cause in the first place, not to win new converts.

Instead, it’s important to work within different faith traditions individually. A devout Mormon needs to hear from other devout Mormons, not from a Catholic priest. Even within the same faith, people care much more what leaders in their particular sect have to say; not all rabbis are equally influential with all Jews, for instance. This is why it’s so important to work directly with many different people of faith, because each can change minds that others can’t.

Yes, the world is changing. And we can build a brighter future for the next generation. But among other things, it’s going to take a more deliberate effort by the LGBT community to reach people of faith.

The Day After Election Day

Jim Burroway

November 4th, 2009
Submitted by BTB reader Elliot Ryan

Submitted by BTB reader Elliot Ryan

Feelings will be running raw this morning. Having yet another state placing a portion of its own citizenry in the second-class column is never easy to take. There will be plenty of time for post-mortems; I guess you could say I’ve already gotten a jump on mine before the campaign was over.

But I think it’s very important to keep in mind what Protect Maine Equality has been able to do. They have put together one of the most outstanding grass-roots efforts I’ve ever seen in a political campaign, and for that they’ve provided a road map for future campaigns to follow. Nobody has done a better job at motivating thousands of individuals to give of their time, and nobody has put together a better get-out-the-vote effort. The fact that the vote was this close is a testament to those great accomplishments.

Meanwhile, we have an important victory in Kalamazoo, where the religious right pulled out all the scare tactics at their disposal to try to defeat a non-discrimination ordinance. It didn’t work. The ordinance was upheld by 7,671 to 4,731 — 62% voted for equality in Kalamazoo, which is now the sixteenth city in Michigan with a non-discrimination ordinance.

Meanwhile, Washington’s Referendum 71 is holding on by a razor-thin margin. The Seattle Times says that it looks promising, since most of the outstanding votes are in areas where the measure was passing. Washingtonians vote by mail, and since the law requires that ballot be postmarked by election day, they will continue to trickle in during the days to come.

In Houston, openly lesbian mayoral candidate Annise Parker will go up against Gene Lock for a December 12 runoff. Openly gay Mark Kleinschmidt was elected mayor of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Charles Pugh garnered the highest number of Detroit city council votes among all the city-wide at-large candidates to become that city’s first gay city council president. And in New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia, legislative battles are heating up for marriage equality.

There are steps forward and steps back. The struggle isn’t over. We lost this one, but we pick ourselves up and go on to the next one. Our community has forged a unique strength that way, and we’ve learned to do this in ways we didn’t want to, whether it was to respond to Governmental censorship, employment bans, Anita Bryant, the AIDS crisis when nobody else could be bothered, or these state-by-state ballot initiatives. They do wear us down, but they don’t wear us out. We pick each other up, dust ourselves off, and we go on to the next battle. It’s what we do.

Maine Question 1 Results

Timothy Kincaid and Jim Burroway

November 3rd, 2009

10:56 AM
575 precincts reporting (95%)
Yes: 293,228 – 52.90%
No:  261,071 – 47.10%

With a final tally like this, I think this should probably put talk of a recount to rest. We lost this one, and it really hurts badly.

2:05 AM
523 precincts reporting (86%)
Yes: 266,324 – 52.75%
No:  238,595 – 47.25%

The Associated Press declares Question 1 passed, and Protect Maine Equality has conceded:

Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of Maine voters stood for equality, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.

I am proud of the thousands of Mainers who knocked on doors, made phone calls and talked to their family, friends and neighbors about the basic premise of treating all Maine families equally.

And I’m proud of this campaign because the stories we told and the images we shared were of real Mainers — parents who stood up for their children, and couples who simply wanted to marry the person they love.

We’re in this for the long haul. For next week, and next month, and next year– until all Maine families are treated equally.  Because in the end, this has always been about love and family and that will always be something worth fighting for.

Thank you. Thank you for everything you did. Thank you for digging deep and giving one more dollar to run our TV ads, for making those phone calls for one more hour. This campaign was, from the beginning, powered by people like you who rolled up their sleeves and did the hard work of change.

12:53
523 precincts reporting (86%)
Yes: 265,189 – 52.74%
No:  237,638 – 47.26%

It’s still close, and a lot of precincts have not yet reported — with the Portland are, being the most significant, and the most pro-NO.

12:42
509 precincts reporting (84%)
Yes: 256,671 – 52.60%
No:  231,314 – 47.40%

Adam Blink (Update 47) says:

The No On 1 campaign manager, Jesse Connolly, just went down with us to the ballroom and announced that the race is too close to call and they are still counting. The counting could continue well into the morning. There will be no concession or declaration of victory, it appears, tonight. Things are extremely tight and no news media so far has called the race either.

12:34
502 precincts reporting (83%)
Yes: 251,213 – 52.41%
No:  228,079 - 47.59%

Rex Wockner says the No on 1 campaign is not conceding:

[12:26 a.m.] Campaign Director Jesse Connolly says absentee ballots have not been counted, and neither have towns and villages.

12:29
497 precincts reporting (82%)
Yes: 248,965 – 52.39%
No:  226,239 – 47.61%

12:20
483 precincts reporting (80%)
Yes: 242,158 – 52.47%
No:  219,389 – 47.53%

12:14
475 precincts reporting (79%)
Yes: 237,749 - 52.32%
No:  216,667 – 47.68%

12:10
463 precincts reporting (77%)
Yes: 231,273 – 52.22%
No:  211,634 – 47.78%

Adam Blink says that No on 1 is preparing for a recount and has the run-down on the process (at update 46):

  • The campaign has to wait for certification from the Sec of State, which will happen after all absentee ballots come in. In Maine, there is a no-excuse absentee ballot law and she expects there to be a “significant” number of absentees.
  • The certification takes a maximum of 20 days but is almost always done before then. The campaign has to pay a nominal fee (ranging from a few hundred bucks to $10K but more likely to be a few hundred) depending on how close the vote is.
  • The recount is statewide, all or nothing. Not challenging individual precincts.
  • Based on past experience, the recount will take at least a few weeks and likely longer than that.

12:04
459 precincts reporting (76%)
Yes: 228,140 – 52.13%
No:  209,520 – 47.87%

12:00
451 precincts reporting (75%)
Yes: 223,841 – 51.99%
No:  206,741 - 48.01%

11:56
439 precincts reporting (73%)
Yes: 219,747 – 51.86%
No:  203,956 – 48.14%

11:50
424 precincts reporting (70%)
Yes: 214,182 – 51.83%
No:  199,036 – 48.17%

11:33
395 precincts reporting (65%)
Yes: 197,471 – 51.59%
No:  185321 – 48.41%

Adam Blink is reporting from the No on 1 campaign: “After talking with some people here, based on projections from the campaign and looking at the rural numbers starting to trickle in, there is a very, very good chance of a recount, and we’re making preparations for that.”

11:14
350 precincts reporting (58%)
Yes: 175,990 – 51.29%
No:  167,158 – 48.71%

10:47
There appears to be a lull in reporting (Timothy)

10:21
172 precincts reporting (28%)
Yes: 74,802 – 50.51%
No:  73,293 – 49.49%

9:54
132 precincts reporting (22%)
Yes: 55,267 – 49.38%
No:  56,659 – 50.62%

9:38
100 precincts reporting (17%)
Yes: 35,892 – 47.70%
No:  37,891 – 51.30%

9:21
82 precincts reporting (14%)
Yes: 29,575 – 47.51%
No:  32,670 – 52.51%

The larger cities are now beginning to report in. (Jim Burroway)

8:59
32 precincts reporting (5%)
Yes: 12,524 – 45.42%
No:  14,988 – 54.48%

The larger cities are now beginning to report in. (Jim Burroway)

8:38
15 precincts reporting (2%)
Yes – 3,837 – 50.67%
No – 3,736 – 49.33%

And there’s the first sign of bad news. As the night goes on we should expect shifts in both directions. We can only hope and pray that in the end that Mainers decided to be good citizens and neighbors.

8:23
6 precincts reporting:
No – 2,064 – 61.70%
Yes – 1,281 – 38.30%

Still WAY too early to mean anything at all. But at least it is nice to start the night in the right position.

8:01 EST
Two precincts reporting:
No – 45 – 88%
Yes – 6 – 12%

Can’t we just quit counting now?

A Hopeful Sign in Maine

Timothy Kincaid

November 3rd, 2009

The Secretary of State is reporting that voter turnout is much higher than expected. Common wisdom suggests that this will be beneficial to supporters of marriage equality as the “usual midterm election” voters tend to skew older and more conservative.

Maine’s Clear Choice

Jim Burroway

October 31st, 2009
YouTube Preview Image

The Maine Message

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

Jim Burroway

October 29th, 2009

Stand For Marriage Maine’s “positive” feel-good approach didn’t last long. They have a new ad out:

YouTube Preview Image

Notice how it’s loaded with all the bad stuff that you care about — out-of-state militant activists corrupting your values, gay teachers pushing their agenda on your children, militant gay activists in your schools and even your daycare centers. “IT’S ALREADY HAPPENED HERE! DON’T BE FOOLED!”

Here’s Protect Maine Equality’s response:

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In a nutshell: please help someone else.

I’ve expressed some concerns about Maine’s pro-marriage messaging and I’ve taken some flack for it. But this example crystallizes my concerns perfectly.

Frank Schubert, who is running the Stand for Marriage Maine campaign has recognized something that is very fundamental in all politics. Former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Niel famously said that all politics are local. Schubert recognized that politics aren’t just local, but personal. It hinges on the question, “How will this affect me?” Karen Ocamb’s brilliant analysis of the California campaign which Schubert ran, which should be mandatory reading for everyone, describes very carefully how Schubert came to this conclusion:

During the Prop 8 Case Study workshop, Schubert said he, Flint and their team spent hours “looking at where people were and what we needed to do to reach them.”

What they found was that most Californians were very tolerant of same sex relationships. Schubert said:

“They didn’t see how gay marriage effected them, per se. It wasn’t their issue. It wasn’t something they cared to think about. It wasn’t something they wanted to talk about. It was an uncomfortable subject generally for them event to get their arms around.”

If we really want to win these battles, we need to begin with an understanding of this important truth:

Nobody Cares About Same-Sex Marriage

Oh, sure, people care about it. Everyone has an opinion about same-sex marriage. But nobody cares about in the sense that it is something that just doesn’t affect them.

Sure, virtually everyone who is gay and out cares. That’s about 4% of the population, and maybe not even that much in Maine. And the anti-gay religious right cares about it also, for whatever personal stake they’ve managed to take in it. That’s a much higher percentage, but it’s not even close to being a majority.

For everyone else, same-sex marriage is just not on their radar. And if they do care, it doesn’t rise to the level of other things they care about more and are willing to invest more of their attention to: education, taxes, health insurance, the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those are the things people care about and are willing to invest their own personal attention and energy to. They care enough to learn more about these things because one way or another, they all touch on them personally. As Schubert’s research revealed:

“At the end of the day, people vote on issues based on how they think it will impact them and their families. We spent a great deal of time trying to understand what impacts could we develop that would work. Communication has to be aimed at and appeal to those self interests of the electorate.” [Emphases mine]

And people don’t see how same-sex marriage will impact them and their families — especially not enough to pay attention to the issue and go out and vote in an off-year election on someone else’s problem. This, by the way, is just as much a problem for the “Yes” side as it is for the “No” side. So how do you fix it?

Change the topic from something nobody personally cares about to something everyone cares about.

That’s right. In California (and in Maine), it meant taking an election about something nobody cares about (gays being allowed to marry) and making it about something that everyone cares about (for example, education). Again, Karen quotes Schubert with the a-ha moment:

“What the research showed was that we could not win by simply affirming traditional marriage. People said, ‘Yeah, OK – but what’s the problem here. How does this impact me?’…. This forced acceptance [by the court] that gay marriage was now mandatory was a big deal – the consequences – specifically regarding religious freedom, religious expression and teaching of gay marriage in schools – and the education consequences become the most powerful in the course of the campaign.

We bet the campaign on consequences – especially on education. Education from the beginning – while it was one of three consequences – it was the one that was the most emotionally charged and the most powerful. And I remember testing an ad in focus groups in Southern California….[One ad was} with the Wirthlin couple from Massachusetts. She’s telling the story of her son Joey - about he’s being taught how a prince can marry another prince – and he’s in second grade.

There's an African American gentleman in this group watching the ad [who] just shakes his head. So I [told the researcher to] ask him what he meant. And the guy says, ‘I’ll tell you what, if that happened to me – I would be pissed.’

And that was the moment that we decided that the campaign would rely on education.”

You could argue, then, that California’s Prop 8 wasn’t about same-sex marriage, but about education. And it worked. People don’t care personally one way or another about same-sex marriage, but everyone cares deeply about education. And so Schubert made it about education; education is what people discussed and debated, and on election day people voted about education because that was what the election came to be about because it is what they personally cared about.

And it should come as no surprise that Stand for Marriage Maine is working precisely the same strategy in Maine. They are making the election about education, a subject that everyone cares about.

Protect Maine Equality running a masterful grass-roots effort and one of the best get-out-the-vote campaings I’ve ever seen. Their success in earned media (op-eds, television and press coverage) has been outstanding. As of Monday, they are also enjoying a lead in the polls (Update: But this new poll shows them at a dead heat). There is so much that they’re getting exactly right, and win or lose, they have a lot to teach other campaigns.

But in their messaging, they are responding by trying to get people to care about something that fundamentally doesn’t affect them one way or another. That worries me in the closing days of the campaign. I really hope they know what they’re doing.

Maine AG to NOM: “What Is There To Hide?”

Jim Burroway

October 29th, 2009

As we reported a Federal Judge ruled against a lawsuit by the National Organization for Marriage claiming that Maine’s reporting requirements for ballot question campaigns are unconstitutional. In addition, the Judge ruled that Maine voters have a legitimate right to know how those campaigns are raising money and who’s behind it. That led Maine’s attorney general to challenge NOM to comply with the law before next week’s election.

Bolstered by the ruling, Maine’s attorney general challenged the advocacy group Wednesday night to make its records public before next week’s vote on Question 1.

“We are not going to give them legal advice. We trust that their legal counsel will advise them to comply fully,” said Attorney General Janet Mills. “The court has ruled that it is in the public interest to do so, and the law couldn’t be clearer.

“I would hope that they would file before the election,” Mills said. “Why not? What is there to hide?”

What indeed?

Judge Declares NOM Not Above The Law

Jim Burroway

October 28th, 2009

A federal judge has denied a request by the National Organization for Marriage for a temporary restraining order to suspend Maine’s campaign reporting requirements for ballot initiatives. NOM is currently footing nearly two-thirds of the total bill for Stand for Marriage Maine’s effort to pass Question 1. NOM complained that because they were not a Maine-based group, that they should be exempt from what they consider to be overbearing regulations for Political Action Committees.  The court disagreed (PDF: 187KB/32 pages):

Maine’s compelling interest in ensuring that the electorate knows who is financially supporting the views expressed on a particular ballot question cannot be satisfied by one-time reporting. Instead, Maine is entitled to conclude that its electorate needs to know, on an ongoing basis, the source of financial support for those who are taking positions on a ballot initiative. It will not do to say that a one-time disclosure in the week before the election is sufficient. That would not give the opposing viewpoint the opportunity to point out the source of the financing and seek to persuade the electorate that the source of support discounts the message.

This means that the Ethics Commission investigation will go forward, although the results will not likely be available before election day.

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.

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