Moving Toward Winning Marriage Equality, 2011 Edition
2009 was a great year. 2011 is proving to be even better. Both years have been full of extraordinary progress toward marriage equality in Maine. We were the first state in the nation to pass a marriage bill through a state legislature and have it signed by a governor. And despite our subsequent loss at the ballot box, veteran political experts called our campaign the largest, most unprecedented referendum campaign in Maine history.
We ran a campaign that facilitated tens of thousands of one-on-one conversations about marriage equality and brought positive images of gay and lesbian families into living rooms across Maine.
In the end, just 33,000 voters blocked marriage for all Maine families——that’s less than 3 percent of our state’s population.
What do we do now in 2011?
Educating 40,000 voters through one-on-one conversations. Through our organizing efforts in 2009, we have a voter file of 268,000 identified supporters. To win marriage equality in the next round, we will need to have one-to-one conversations withe an additional 40,000 Mainers. Polling shows that many of these voters live in the more rural areas of Maine and that they are persuaded to support marriage equality through sustained one-on-one conversations with people who live in their communities. Our organizing strategies in 2010 reflect this approach.
- Increasing public opinion. In 2008, polling showed that 42 percent of Maine voters would uphold marriage equality in a referendum vote. In 2009, one year later, 47 percent voted in favor of marriage equality. That’s a 5 percent increase in support for marriage in one year, thanks to a lot of hard work by volunteers, coalition partners, and campaign staff. If we moved 5 percent of voters then, we can move another 5 percent over this year with a public education program that is targeted and strategic.
INVESTING IN A WINNING STRATEGY
We now must focus on raising the funds necessary to support a robust field program, including teams of community organizers and volunteers doing the hard work of persuading the remaining 40,000 voters we need to win the next referendum campaign.
The last leg of any journey is often the most difficult. Finding and having conversations with 40,000 additional voters will require all of us working together, as volunteers and donors. We came historically close to winning marriage equality in 2009 and by working together again, as Mainers and non-Mainers, we can travel the remaining distance to victory in the near future.