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Marriage equality update: Washington, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

We’re now less than two weeks away from the most important election for marriage equality in years.  Not surprisingly, that means we’re starting to see opponents of equal marriage rights release scare tactic ads based on untrue assertions.  On the bright side, though, we’re also seeing major donations from prominent individuals coming in on the pro-equality side.  Here’s a look at the latest news from the marriage equality campaigns in Washington, Maryland, Maine and Minnesota.

In Washington, Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they were donating an incredible $500,000 to Washington United for Marriage, the group responsible for the campaign to approve Referendum 74.  That money comes on top of another $100,000 gift that the Gates couple gave to the campaign earlier this year.  Washington United has raised almost $11 million for its campaign, compared to around $2 million for the anti-marriage equality group Preserve Marriage Washington.  New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also announced this week that he would donate $500,000 to marriage equality efforts, splitting the money between the campaigns in Washington, Maine and Minnesota.  (He contributed $250,000 earlier this year to Maryland’s effort.)

A University of Washington poll last week found 54 percent of likely voters in Washington support Referendum 74, with 38 percent opposed and 6 percent undecided.  Interestingly, the poll also included a third prediction, based on the respondents’ answers to questions about whether they had lied on the survey or if its questions made them uncomfortable, in order to gauge whether the poll’s numbers were over-representing support.  That weighted prediction found a closer split, with 53 percent support and 47 percent opposition.  In 2009, when Washington voted on a domestic partnership law, polling showed much greater support for the measure than the eventual margin by which it passed.

In Maryland, two pastors who have been outspoken supporters of marriage equality in the state, Rev. Delman Coates and Rev. Donte Hickman, are planning a rally tomorrow in support of Angela McCaskill, a Galludet University employee who was placed on leave because she signed the petition to put Maryland’s marriage equality law on the ballot.  “Support for Question 6 is about protecting everyone’s rights, gay rights and religious rights” Coates told a reporter from the regional TV channel ABC7. “This is very disconcerting what happened to Dr. McCaskill for merely exercising her freedom of speech.”  The rally is not being organized by Marylanders for Marriage Equality, and is instead intended to highlight Question 6’s protections for religious freedoms.

In Maine, opponents of marriage equality have started releasing ads that rely on the same victimization stories that organizations like NOM have relied on in the past.  One spot features a couple who own an inn in Vermont and refused to allow a lesbian couple to marry there.  The Vermont couple, the ad states, were then sued because of their Christian beliefs and forced to pay $30,000.  It also claims they were forced to stop hosting weddings at their inn.  Left unsaid, of course, is the fact that their $30,000 payment came as part of a settlement in which the couple admitted they had broken the state’s non-discrimiation law.

Another ad features a Canadian sportscaster who says he was fired because he tweeted support for a sports agent who opposed marriage equality, when in fact his anti-gay tweets (plural, not singular) were the culmination of many performance issues that caused his employer to fire him.  Not surprisingly, NOM is out with its own ad in the state as well featuring Don Mendell, a high school counselor who campaigned against marriage equality in 2009 and was then investigated by the state’s licensing board due to concerns that his comments could demonstrate an unwillingness to counsel gay students.  Equality Matters has called the story “highly misleading,” and Mainers United for Marriage has released its own fact check on the spot.

And in Minnesota, the anti-marriage equality group Minnesota for Marriage apologized for a statement intimating that marriage equality supporters’ tactics were similar to those used by Adolf Hitler.  Rev. Brad Brandon, the group’s pastoral outreach director, had said in a Power Point last week that Hitler had suppressed religious freedom and that supporters of equal marriage rights in Minnesota were attempting to do the same.

We’ll be following the four campaigns closely in the next two weeks as we move towards what could be one or several historic wins for marriage equality.


  • 1. Seth from Maryland  |  October 24, 2012 at 9:07 am

    [youtube ro6Y8qvT1G8&feature=g-user-u youtube]

  • 2. Seth from Maryland  |  October 24, 2012 at 9:09 am

    heres the New ad in Washington i was trying to post , but it would show up , its a damn good ad

  • 3. Gregory in SLC  |  October 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

    its a start.

  • 4. Seth from Maryland  |  October 24, 2012 at 9:11 am

    [youtube SDwphILTP8g&feature=relmfu youtube]

  • 5. Lymis  |  October 24, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Over at Joe.My.God. they're reporting that some people in Maryland are getting mail-in ballots that are missing the page to vote on marriage equality.

  • 6. Seth from Maryland  |  October 24, 2012 at 9:29 am

    WTF, DAMNIT!!! I just Saw this on facebook , this better be corrected UGH 🙁

  • 7. Gregory in SLC  |  October 24, 2012 at 9:46 am

    what happens if someone doesn't vote either way…does it go in our favor?(Like it does in Washington)

  • 8. Seth from Maryland  |  October 24, 2012 at 10:45 am

    i dont think this is a good thing, the race in Maryland is razor thin, maybie for 6 is up by a point or two, we are going to need every vote for 6 vote we can get to win

  • 9. Mike in Baltimore  |  October 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    To date, the GOP has been the biggest user of absentee ballots. This year is not expected to change that fact.

    The largest number of 'anti' Prop 6 votes will come from the GOP.

    It could be a very silver lining to a gray cloud.

  • 10. Straight Ally #3008  |  October 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    It would have no effect if I'm reading it correctly – this is a question to affirm or reject legislation, while changing the constitution in MN *must* be in the affirmative (I assume the line of thinking being, how can you pass an amendment if you don't have a 50%+ majority?)

  • 11. Gregory in SLC  |  October 24, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Rachael Maddow last night spent much talking about the Colorado(swing state) shenanigans by Scott Gessler including "voter purging" and attempts to block early voting. As my hubby predicts, can expect more foul play by conservative-justify-means-to-defend-God-Christians during election.

  • 12. exx-man  |  October 24, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Isn't it amazing how, suddenly, honesty and fair play aren't Christian family values when things aren't going their way? Me thinks their golden rule is a bit tarnished.

  • 13. Steve the Second  |  October 24, 2012 at 11:45 am

    You're only noticing this now? It's been like that for 2000 years

  • 14. Mike in Baltimore  |  October 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    One thing to remember about Maryland – the majority of elected officials in the six most populous jurisdictions (Montgomery, PG, Baltimore City and County, Anne Arundel and Howard) in the state (the 1/4 of the jurisdictions that have more than 1/2 the state's population) are registered as Democrats, and they generally are not conservative or moderate Democrats either.

    From the reports I've heard, the ballots with missing page 2 (where the Prop 4, 5, 6 and 7 issues are listed) were sent to voters in mainly GOTP-leaning counties.

  • 15. Peter Thomas  |  October 24, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I just looked at ballot proofs for all 24 counties, and question 6 is on each one of them.

  • 16. Mike in Baltimore  |  October 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    'Ballot proofs' are NOT the same as the actual ballot mailed to the voter. 'Ballot proofs' are what the printers use to print the ballots, and sometimes they don't follow the proofs exactly.

    A few years ago, a book club I was a member of (Sci-Fi Book Club) sent a book with Chapter 2 labeled as Chapter 1, followed by the actual Chapter 1. Only after receiving several inquiries (it was a very well-known Isaac Asimov book, so it was not an obscure book) did the book club recognize what had happened and ordered corrected copies of the book to be shipped.

    The problem was not caused by the SFBC, but by the printer misreading the proofs sent by the SFBC to the printer, and then direct shipping the books.

    Oh, and Peter? Maryland has 23 counties and one independent city.

  • 17. Straight Ally #3008  |  October 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    "Another ad features a Canadian sportscaster who says he was fired because he tweeted support for a sports agent who opposed marriage equality, when in fact his anti-gay tweets (plural, not singular) were the culmination of many performance issues that caused his employer to fire him."

    Note that, to the far right, Canada is a den of evil socialism and gay marriage until they can scrape up a martyr for their cause there. NOM, why do you hate America so much? Speaking of which, how in the hell can they still be campaigning in Maine after flouting the law? Is it because they're working through their confederates?

  • 18. grod  |  October 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Ally #3008 regarding your question 'how can [NOM[ still be campaigning in Maine after flouting the law?" While the Courts have rules, the body that is required to make a determination (Commission on Government Ethics and Election Practices) that NOM violated the disclosure law, apparently have not yet made that determination On October 5, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported that NOM that day had filed its quarterly report to the Commission. In 2012, NOM found an acceptable accounting procedure while alleviates the need to report individual donors. Hard to beleive!

  • 19. Faceless Bureaucrat  |  October 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    The Gallaudet situation is really crazy.

    This woman is the University's Chief Diversity Officer or some such title, and she signed a petition to put the question on the ballot. The legislature had already established same-sex marriage. The only reason to sign what she signed was if you wanted to take rights away. Ergo, she's a homophobe, and shouldn't be in charge of supporting / implementing / safeguarding diversity on campus.

    Then, to add insult to injury, when her signature on the petition came to light, she said she only did it because she believes the issue should be determined by vote of the people. Bull-oney. Anyone who deserves to be in charge of diversity would know that you don't put minority rights up to popular vote. So she lied about her motives, and in so doing insulted the intelligence of everyone in the Gallaudet community. They are smart enough to see her bull-only for what it is, but she seems to think they are stupid enough to buy her story.

    So she has further proved her disqualification, first by being bigot, then by believing everyone at Gallaudet is stupid. I have no idea what these ministers see in her cause.

  • 20. Straight Dave  |  October 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    They're just playing stupid word games now.

    “Support for Question 6 is about protecting everyone’s rights, gay rights and religious rights” Coates told a reporter …

    Very true, but Angela McCaskill signed a petition to put Q6 on the ballot, which is the exact opposite of "Support for Question 6". Signing that petition was not support at all, but the means by which Q6 was put up just so it could be voted down. If she intended to "support Q6" with a Yes vote, she never would have put it on the ballot in the first place.

    Complete lying sacks of shit!
    Not even close, boys.

  • 21. Straight Dave  |  October 24, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Oops, upon rereading the original post, I now see these guys are outspoken equality supporters. I apologize for chewing them out.

    OK, then they're just dumb and sticking their nose into something they apparently don't understand. This is beyond weird.

    Just get us to Nov 6 already before I lose my mind any more.
    Havin' a bad week.

  • 22. Gregory in SLC  |  October 25, 2012 at 5:40 am

    I hear you! thanks for your advocacy Dave : )

    @Just get us to Nov 6 already before I lose my mind any more.

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