Secret Weapon for Repealing Prop 8: Maine

Maine campaign determined to learn from California's mistakes

By Matt Baume
|  Wednesday, Sep 29, 2010  |  Updated 5:41 PM PDT
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Secret Weapon for Repealing Prop 8: Maine

Getty Images

SACRAMENTO, CA - JUNE 17: Ellen Pontac (L) and her wife Shelly Bailes celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary and the one-year anniversary of a California Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages, at a press conference June 17, 2009 in Sacramento, California. On June 16, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled providing a constitutional right to same-sex marriages went into effect, only later in November for it to be overturned by voters. The courts then announced a ruling on May 19 upholding Proposition 8, which banned gay marriages in California; but also upheld the marriages that had been performed before the proposition passed were still valid. (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

Earlier this year, civil rights advocates celebrated when several New England states granted marriage rights to gay couples.

But opponents are waging a campaign to eliminate the right to marry in Maine, and to eliminate rights like hospital visitation and death benefits for gay firefighters in Washington. These two battles could prove instrumental in California's upcoming battle to repeal Prop 8.

The Maine campaign has shown care in learning from the victories and mistakes of the Prop 8 campaign. This week, they released two television ads: one features a military man talking about equality for his daughter; the other highlights the normalcy of a family with two moms. The second ad is a notable departure from the Prop 8 strategy, which rendered gay couples almost entirely invisible in TV ads. But the ads also borrow from a strategy that won support from Californians: these ads feature honest testimony from locals. In contrast, the anti-marriage campaign was recently caught paying actors to pose as concerned citizens.

It's unclear when the marriage ban will be back on California's ballot. Equality California, one of the largest organizations for gay equality in California, recently laid out a three-year plan that would have us voting in 2012. But a grassroots campaign is organizing quickly and efficiently for a vote in 2010.

But no matter what year Californians vote again on each others' marriages, the results of upcoming elections in other states will exert a heavy influence.

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