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Marriage equality update: Washington, Maine, Maryland

Marriage equality Referendum 74

By Jacob CombsGoal Thermometer

Yesterday’s Washington Post profiled the pro-marriage equality campaign in Wahington state seeking to approve Referendum 74, touching upon two stark facts that form the central dilemma the campaign faces this fall: 1) the pro-equality side has much more money than the anti-equality side and 2) the anti-equality side has a much better track record.  Washington United for Marriage, the pro-marriage equality group supporting Referendum 74, has $8.9 million in the bank and around 4,000 volunteers.  “There is kind of a historical moment at play here,” campaign manager Zach Silk told the Post, pointing to the surge in support marriage equality received from President Obama’s public announcement on the issue in May.

Nevertheless, challenges remain.  As Silk put it to the Post, “32 out of 32 losses is pretty daunting.”  And the attitude of the anti-equality side in Washington makes it clear that the fight is anything but over.  “We do not need to match the other side dollar-for-dollar to get our message out,” Chip White, the communications director for Preserve Marriage Washington, told the Post.  PMW has raised $1.8 million so far ($725,000 of it from NOM), and believes that the very strong polling results marriage equality has seen in the last month or so will tighten as the race continues.  PMW just aired its first ad of the season yesterday, and hopes that public opinion will shift in the last stages of the race like it did in California on Proposition 8.

Also yesterday, Blake Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom, Inc, and Erik Nordstrom, Nordstrom’s President of Stores, sent an email to the company’s 56,000 employees endorsing Referendum 74.  Blake and Erik Nordstrom’s email noted that the company, which was founded in Seattle in 1901, was one of the first companies to add sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination policy and has offered its gay and lesbian employees life partner benefits since 1998.  From the email:

We feel the next step in this journey is to now support freedom to marry, also called marriage equality. There is a lot of awareness of this issue across the country and we’ve heard from many employees and customers. We gave this thoughtful consideration and felt the time was right to come out in support of this civil rights issue. It is our belief that our gay and lesbian employees are entitled to the same rights and protections marriage provides under the law as all other employees. We also believe supporting freedom to marry will help us create a more attractive and inclusive workplace for our current and prospective employees. Again – this decision is consistent with our long-time philosophy of inclusivity and equality for our customers and employees.

In Maine, the Bangor City Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Wednesday night endorsing Question 1 and marriage equality, but both of the states’ sitting Republican senators have declined to take a position on the ballot measure.  Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are among the more moderate GOPers in the Senate–for example, both voted for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in late 2011, co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006.

But in an email with the Washington Blade yesterday morning, Senator Collins said she was “considering” her opinion on Question 1:

“Historically, laws regulating family and domestic affairs have been almost exclusively regulated by the states which is why I have voted against federal constitutional amendments defining marriage.  Next month, the voters in Maine will be asked to decide if they will allow the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Like voters in my state, I am considering this issue very carefully.”

Senator Olympia Snowe, who is retiring at the end of the year, made a similar statement:

“It is left to individual states through the legislature or referenda to make their own determinations on this personal issue — and the people of Maine will now make this final determination come Election Day.”

Finally, in Maryland, the pro-marriage equality campaign has released two ads in the Baltimore area featuring African-American pastors who support Question 6 in an effort to push back on anti-equality ads that have been running in the state.  The opponents of Question 6 aired their first ad on Monday in the Washington, D.C. area, and Marylanders for Marriage Equality sent a fundraising email on Tuesday telling supporters the campaign needed more money to start airing TV spots in the capitol’s media markets, which are more expensive than those in Maryland itself.  The pro-equality side will hold a rally today at 4 p.m. at the University of Maryland at College Park with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, state Delegates Heather Mizeur and Luke Clippinger and state Senator Rich Madaleno.

On a personal note, I’ll be out of the country next week, so I won’t be posting my usual morning updates.  Scottie will take the reins for the week and I’ll be back online October 22 as we head into the exciting last few weeks before the elections!

You can watch the two Maryland ads, which feature Rev. Donté Hickman and Delman Coates, below the fold.

UPDATE (12:00 pm): As Seth in Maryland pointed out in the comments, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a $250,000 donation to Marylanders for Marriage Equality which the campaign confirmed today, according to the Washington Post.  In addition, the Human Rights Campaign announced today that it is contributing an addition $1 million to the marriage equality campaigns in Washington, Maryland, Maine and Minnesota.


  • 1. Seth from Maryland  |  October 12, 2012 at 8:58 am

    N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg gives $250,000 to Maryland same-sex marriage effort
    Last month, same-sex marriage proponents in Maryland held a star-studded fundraiser in New York. Now the city’s mayor is getting into the act — in a big way.

    Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who went to college at Johns Hopkins University, has donated $250,000 to the campaign to uphold Maryland’s same-sex marriage law.

  • 2. Seth from Maryland  |  October 12, 2012 at 9:11 am

    The Human Rights Campaign announced that it is directing $1 million to be split evenly between the four states with marriage equality ballot initiatives this November.
    The Human Rights Campaign announced Monday that it will direct $1 million to be split evenly in $250,000 chunks among the four states facing votes on marriage equality in what President Chad Griffin calls “a tipping point year” for the issue.
    The money will be sent to Maine, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota, bringing HRC’s contributions to legislative and electoral marriage issues in the 2011-2012 cycle to $4.8 million, according to a news release from the group. More contributions are expected before the votes this November.

  • 3. Seth from Maryland  |  October 12, 2012 at 9:37 am

    The Four 2012 Launches Moneybomb Campaign For Marriage Equality
    With 25 days left to the election, The Four 2012 is revving into high gear with their one-day Moneybomb for Equality campaign.
    Followers are being urged to donate $25 or more to the state marriage campaigns of Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington with one click from this Act Blue page.
    Donations of $25 can be split among all four states, or you can give $25 to each.
    All money raised goes directly to Mainers United for Marriage, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, Minnesotans United for All Families and Washington United for Marriage

  • 4. jpmassar  |  October 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    32 out of 32 losses may be daunting, but not a single one of those losses has been in consideration of a proposition to legalize same-sex marriage. Every one of them has been for a proposition or constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, except for the Maine referendum, which was still a negative vote.

    There has never been a vote of the people on a positively worded proposition or amendment to allow same-sex couples to marry.

    The 32 losses in a row is therefore somewhat of a canard.

  • 5. Straight Dave  |  October 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Also, those 32 were in a self-selected set of "most bigoted" states. That's why they held those votes in the first place. They weren't randomly selected states. Now we're moving into a set of least-bigoted states, holding different votes for completely opposite reasons, in a very different social environment. Prior records are not indicative of future results.

  • 6. John_B_in_DC  |  October 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Not to mention that this isn't 2004, or even 2009. Public opinion in favor of marriage equality has been steadily increasing but has only in the last couple of years passed the 50% mark both nationwide and in many of the states that previously passed such laws, amendments, and referendums.

  • 7. Andy  |  October 13, 2012 at 5:40 am

    It's somewhat disheartening that the last few times you've done marriage equality updates, you've left Minnesota out of the discussion. I know the fight looks grim here but I think that's important to recognize and not just highlight those states where things are going favorably.

  • 8. John_B_in_DC  |  October 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    And let's also not forget the Iowa Supreme Court retention vote!

  • 9. Mike Ho.  |  October 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    <img src=""/>Any updates or progress you heard from France?<img src=""/&gt;

  • 10. Seth from Maryland  |  October 15, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Republican Donor Paul Singer Gives $250,000 to Maryland Marriage Campaign
    Paul Singer, the billionaire hedge fund manager and major Republican donor from New York who has donated millions to marriage equality work over the past decade, contributed $250,000 to the effort to uphold the new law in Maryland.

    The donation was announced Monday by Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the coalition of organizations working to pass the referendum known as Question

  • 11. Seth from Maryland  |  October 15, 2012 at 10:17 am

    [youtube ohKo8CV7PtI youtube]

    Marylanders for Marriage Equality new AD: Julian Bond speaking in favor of Question 6

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