You fervently, powerfully, passionately care about Maine.
Trust me on this one. You may not know it yet. You may be going, “Maine? Huh? I mean, sure, Maine’s cool, I’ve got nothing against Maine — but care about it passionately?” You do. Maine is very, very important to you.
Let me explain why.
So why is this so important? I mean, there are battles over same-sex marriage in lots of states: battles happening right now, and ones looming on the horizon. And they’re happening in states that are a lot bigger than Maine, and a whole lot more visible. Why do you care about this one so much? Why is this fight different from all other fights?
There are two big reasons why you care about Maine. Momentum, and precedent.
Let’s talk momentum first. The far right and the religious right see Maine’s Proposition 1 as ground zero in the fight to stop same-sex marriage. They are already pouring huge gobs of money and resources into this one; they even got the same guy who ran the Yes on Prop 8 campaign to run it. They’re not idiots: they see that the momentum for same-sex marriage has been building like a freight train. We lost a lot of steam over Prop 8; but we picked it up again with Iowa and Vermont and New Hampshire, and indeed with Maine. And public opinion is slowly but steadily shifting in favor of same-sex marriage.
The far right desperately wants to stop this one in its tracks.
We can’t let them.
And momentum is huge in politics. A win makes the next campaign on the issue seem less radical and less scary; not just for voters, but for politicians and public figures, who are way more likely to fight for a cause if it looks like it already has some traction. A win energizes and inspires the winners; a loss tends to demoralize the losers, and forces them to retrench. Plus, for better or worse, a lot of people don’t like to feel like they’re on the losing side. They’re more likely to support a candidate or a cause when it looks like it can win, and is winning. With every state that legalizes same-sex marriage, the next one is way more likely to do it too. Same-sex marriage is going to look more normal, more like no big deal… and it’s going to look inevitable.
The right isn’t wrong about this one. This is ground zero. We need to get every bit as involved in No on 1 as we did in No on 8. If we lose this one, we will, in fact, have lost a tremendous amount of momentum. But if we win, we will have loaded a huge heap of coal into that freight train’s engine. It will make the fight for same-sex marriage in every other state — in New York, in New Jersey, in California in 2010 or 2012, and eventually in Oregon and Minnesota and Alabama — much, much easier, and much more winnable.
If we win this one, it will be a huge precedent. The far right won’t be able to say that the courts and legislatures are shoving same-sex marriage down the throats of the people. The people will have spoken. And they will have spoken for fairness and equality.
There’s one more thing I want to point out before I finish up: This is a very winnable fight. The polls are very close on Prop 1… and as of this writing, we’re slightly ahead. And the No on 1 organization is very, very good: they’ve been working on this issue for years, and they’re already well-prepared to launch their opposition to the ugly attacks they know they’ll be getting. They’ve already started doing education and what they call “inoculation” against the fear-mongering they know they’re going to be facing. And Maine is, as the No on 1 organizers are fond of saying, a cheap date. It’s a small state, and media buys and whatnot are a lot less expensive than they were in, say, California. We can win this one.
Okay. So now you passionately care about Maine. You get why supporting No on 1 is the biggest, most important thing you can do right now to support same-sex marriage — not just for Maine, but for the rest of the country.
What can you do to help?
And do it now. Don’t wait until right before the election. We don’t want to make the mistake we made with Prop 8 (well, one of the mistakes): we don’t want to spend the entire campaign playing defense. We need to help lay the groundwork now for a pro-active campaign. And in Maine, early voting starts in early October. If we wait until November to pitch in on this fight, we’ll have waited too long. We have to get this on the national radar, now.
And do it now. Don’t wait until right before the election. Early money is one of the most powerful tools that a political campaign can have. Political campaigns need to know early what their budget will be so they can plan accordingly; more to the point, media buys and other costly campaigning efforts have to be done early in order to be really effective. (See above, re: not screwing up and playing defense like we did with Prop 8.) And again, early voting in Maine starts in early October: if we wait until November, we’ll have waited too long.
And if you already live in Maine, there’s plenty you can do to help: you can canvass, phone bank, do data entry or other office help, host house parties, and more.
Maine isn’t just where the battle is now. Maine will help immeasurably in winning every other battle we have ahead of us. This fight is different from all other fights. Please help win it.