Election 2012: A Day with Mainers United for Marriage
By Jorge Taveras, Communications Coordinator, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
It’s easy to forget that beyond the statistics and rhetoric being thrown around this election season, there are real people whose lives will be very much affected by the outcomes in November. One example is in Maine, where the Mainers United for Marriage campaign is urging Mainers to vote yes on Question 1 this election season. Question 1 asks Mainers “Do you want to allow the state of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?” It’s a historic vote, because it is the first proactive marriage equality measure introduced on the ballot in the history of the United States.
I had the privilege of spending Saturday in the Mainers United for Marriage campaign office in Portland, where I got to see firsthand the hard work being put into this effort by participating in a door-to-door canvass. The Task Force has had staff on the ground in Maine for months, and our own Evangeline Weiss led Saturday’s door-to-door canvass training. I also ran into a couple of former Task Force fellows who were also deeply involved with the campaign.
The first thing I noticed is how diverse the staff and volunteers were. They were young and old, gay and straight; people from all different walks of life working together to achieve marriage equality. A few were volunteer vacationers from other states, who were spending time in Maine because they believe that a win for marriage equality there is an important win for the country as well. Each had their reasons for helping out, and I was fortunate enough to hear a few people’s personal stories.
One person was doing this for her lesbian co-worker, who she believes should have the same legal right to wed as she does. Another was volunteering so his gay son would be able to marry, and another woman got involved with the campaign so she could finally marry her partner of over 20 years. Everyone had a different reason, but they all had the same goal.
The purpose of the door-to-door canvass was to build and reinforce support for the freedom to marry — to reaffirm voters who are with us on marriage equality and make sure they turn out to vote on Nov. 6 or earlier, as they can vote early in Maine. Canvassers also had fact sheets on hand to dispel the many myths coming from the opposition. Canvassers knocked on over 1,700 doors and had over 250 conversations with voters.
Overall, the canvass was a success. Every conversation and every vote reaffirmed was critical, as Maine lost marriage equality by a very small margin in 2009. The day wrapped up with a phone bank from high school students, who are turning out in droves to volunteer for Mainers United for Marriage.
Though it was an overcast and chilly Saturday, the campaign office was buzzing with activity all day. It goes to show just how dedicated everyone is to making marriage equality a reality in Maine.