Friday, October 30, 2009

Something big is about to happen in Maine -- 4 days to go!



The leaf-strewn winds of October have brought me to Portland, Maine. I've been here less than 48 hours and I've already had my first Maine lobster and checked out both of the local gay bars, Blackstones and Styxx. Yes! Styxx! Like the 80's band. I almost have gotten the hang of the city's layout and, though it's been mostly grey and rainy since I arrived, the temperatures have been rather mild for this time of year. With some luck, I'll get time to visit some of the local federal parklands as well.

What brings me, here, mostly, is my friendship with Rex Wockner, a San Diego-based journalist who I've known, like, forever. He has been here for a few days covering a referendum on Tuesday's ballot that would strike down a law allowing same-sex couples to marry in Maine. Recent polls have been too tight to predict whether anti-gay forces will prevail and Question 1 will pass or if Maine will respect equality for all by voting "No on 1". Rex, who has been sharing up to the minute commentary on his blog, said it best on the update he posted yesterday:
Maine doesn't have a lot of people (the same number live in the San Diego city limits) but this battle is hugely important as the first voter referendum on gay marriage since Prop 8. If the gays win here, they knock the wind out of the opposition's sails, they go on to win same-sex marriage in New York and New Jersey later this year, California votes again and Prop 8 dies, and that's the end of same-sex-marriage culture war. If, on the other hand, the opposition wins here in Maine, they prove that they can continue to take away gay people's marriage rights by blasting the airwaves with hateful ads claiming that gay marriage melts kindergartners' brains -- and they prove, for the first time, that they can take away gay people's marriage rights even when the Legislature passed the gay marriage bill and the governor signed it into law. There were no "activist judges" involved here in Maine. So, what happens here Tuesday: It matters, no matter where you live in the U.S. (Scroll down to learn how you still can volunteer to save the gay world, even without leaving the comfort of your La-Z-Boy, from anywhere in the U.S. Or just click here.)
So, yes, the second reason that brings me to Maine is to experience what hopefully will be victory on Tuesday when the ballot results come in -- for all Mainers in particular and for all the other reasons indicated by Rex above.



Having said that, tonight was my first visit to the "No on 1 / Protect Maine Equality" headquarters. I loved it! And not necessarily because they offered brownies (sorry, folks, I don't like brownies -- the thought is what counts, though). We must have gotten there around 9:30pm, or so, and the place was a-buzzin'. There were staffers and volunteers aplenty and the place was still rockin' when we left around 11:00pm.



As closely as I've been following the campaign from New York, it also felt surreal to walk in and see the gang. Ooh! There's Campaign Manager Jesse Connolly! Ah! Karin Roland of the Communications Team! Hey! There's Jenna Lowenstein from National Stonewall Democrats! We also ran into Joe Sudbay of AMERICAblog. He is based in DC, but grew up in Portland, Maine, and has been putting his heart and soul into it as well (that's Joe on the left and Rex on the right in the pic above). "4 days to go!"

My favorite thing tonight, though, was walking into the Communication Team's office and have Julia Rosen, who I had actually met at this year's Netroots Nation in Pittsburgh, show us a brand new ad that the campaign had just launched tonight. Probably the best ad I have seen from the campaign...



Truth be told, though, the vote is now up to whoever mobilizes the most voters on Tuesday
. And, in that respect, everyone can help out. Even if you're not in Maine. You can sign-up for a call-only shift from anywhere in the United States here.



A great bunch of folks, I say. And I'm here to stay... at least until Tuesday, when I will probably be blogging from campaign central and hopefully sharing the joy. More pretty pictures here (photo album to be updated as the days go by).

Updates:

4 comments:

Some Other Guy said...

Wonderful!

Jay Gabor said...

Great picture of you!

libhom said...

O/T: Are you supporting a candidate in the NYC Mayor's race?

Andrés Duque said...

Yup. I am on Bill Thompson's list of LGBT supporters.