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article imageFocus of Gay Marriage Fight Moves to Maine

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By Oliver VanDervoort     Oct 28, 2009 in Politics
In less than a week Maine voters will decide whether to repeal the state’s same-sex marriage law. Out-of-state money has been coming in from both sides to fuel the battle.
Supporters of the Gay Marriage act have better resources and numbers in the small state, but polls show the issue will come down to a razor thin margin, making both sides nervous.
Although the Maine fight doesn't have the star power of California, if the voters repeal the Gay Marriage Act it would be a damaging a loss to advocates of same sex marriage.
If Maine’s law is upheld, however, it would be the movement’s first victory at the ballot box; while voters in 30 states have banned same sex marriage.
Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont allow gay couples to marry, but courts and legislatures, not the general public, made it possible.
“It’s a defining moment,” Marc Mutty, chairman of Stand for Marriage Maine, told the New York Times. His organization is leading the repeal effort. “What happens here in Maine is going to have a mushrooming effect on the issue at large.”
Maine had originally looked at September as the starting point for allowing same sex marriage, but with the issue on the ballot, has decided to hold off until the voters have their say. Maine is the only state that currently has the issue on it's ballot.
The best attack against same-sex marriage has been the threat of teachers discussing the issue in class rooms with young children. While Maine's attorney general has already said teachers will not be forced to do that in his state, the spectre of such actions still gains traction in other states where this issue has existed. One Stand for Marriage Maine's television advertisements warns that in Massachusetts, where same sex marriage has been legal since 2003, some teachers answer “thoroughly and explicitly” when students ask about gay sex.
Stand for Marriage isn't the only group involved in the fight, and has actually been beaten financially Protect Maine Equality, has raised $4 million, compared with Stand for Marriage’s $2.6 million. Its message is that there should not be one set of rules for some people.
“You may disagree,” a gray-haired lobsterman says in a Protect Maine Equality advertisement, “but people have a right to live the way they want to live.”
The group has raised much of its money on the Internet, where it has also recruited volunteers from around the country with a Web site, www.travelforchange.org. Stace McDaniel, a retired teacher from Atlanta, said he decided to spend a few weeks volunteering for Protect Maine Equality after attending his first same-sex wedding this summer.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” said Mr. McDaniel, 57, who said he took out a $5,000 home equity line of credit to finance his trip. “It was a chance to do something really important. I don’t know anyone in Maine, but here I am.”
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