Virtual Voices

Why Maine marriage vote matters

Issues

As Emily Belz reported Wednesday, Maine voters this week repealed that state's law legalizing same-sex marriage.

For supporters---and opponents---of traditional marriage, the vote is important for a number of reasons.

First, money didn't make the difference. According to Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, groups such as Stand for Marriage Maine (supporting traditional marriage) were outspent by a margin of 2-to-1.

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The passing of Proposition 8 in California (which overturned court-ordered gay marriage) galvanized proponents of same-sex marriage, and Maine was seen by many as an opportunity to stop any momentum gained on the West Coast. According to Brown, "Same-sex marriage activists saw Maine as their best chance to win a direct marriage vote." But despite resources, energy, and plenty of media attention, the momentum to maintain traditional marriage was not slowed.

Maine's vote was the first time in history that voters overturned action taken by a legislature on this issue. This in a state not considered conservative by a long shot.

Brown calls the vote "a decisive and historic victory for marriage." No doubt supporters of same-sex marriage will downplay its significance.

But consider this from an October Associated Press article leading up to the vote:

"Supporters of same-sex marriage, in Maine and elsewhere, are cautiously hopeful of a landmark victory, which they believe would have an impact in other states including California. But they acknowledge that defeat---by an electorate known for its independence and moderation---would be crushing."

As Brown put it, "The voters in a deep New England state have now joined 30 other states in directly affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If we can win in Maine, we can win anywhere."

Marcia Segelstein
Marcia Segelstein

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