Get your friends together and marshal support for marriage
Doug Kimmel and Ron Schwiser were married 40 years ago by a Presbyterian minister. They've lived in Hancock — where they pay taxes, attend church, and volunteer in the community — for more than 20 years. Yet, they are virtual strangers in the eyes of the law. They are denied the more than 400 legal rights and benefits that come with marriage under Maine law.
LD 1020, "An Act to End to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom," would have changed all that but for the so-called "people's veto." It is not enough that the Legislature overwhelmingly voted in favor of civil marriage for gays and lesbians. It's not enough that Governor John Baldacci signed the bill into law. Now, we must vote, and we must convince everyone we know to vote no on 1 in November. Portland won't carry the vote. We'll need a majority of fair-minded Mainers in the rest of the state to join us.
That's why I'm headed home in August, back to Hancock. I'm going to join Ron and Doug at their 40th anniversary celebration. We're going to celebrate — and organize. At the ceremony, Ron and Doug are going to urge their friends and family members to vote no on 1 in November. They're going to ask them to go online to www.mainefreedomtomarry.org and volunteer. They're going to ask them to donate to the No on 1 campaign in lieu of giving a gift.
A party is the perfect way to celebrate how far we've come and ensure that we do all we need to do to win in November. A party is a perfect venue to convince your Republican cousins that if they can't "love thy neighbor," they can at least "live and let live" by voting no on 1. It's also a great way to get your friend who voted for the first time in 2008 because Barack Obama was cool to vote again in 2009 because being part of a civil-rights movement is even cooler. If you provide food and enough drink, you might be able to get those friends to make a small (or large) donation to the No on 1 campaign. We can't win without money to pay for phone lines for phone banking, field organizers for door-to-door canvassing, and cool television ads to persuade soccer moms and NASCAR dads alike that protecting Maine equality is the right thing to do. We don't have to be rich to be generous. Barack Obama's campaign showed that thousands of $20 donations can mean more than 20 thousand-dollar donations.
We have love, equality, and time on our side. But I don't want Ron and Doug or Julie and Stephanie or any of my other dear friends to have to wait any longer.
I'll come to your party. I'll ask your friends for money. If we engage in the campaign now, if we do everything that we can do to raise awareness and funds for marriage equality, then we'll all be dancing at more weddings next August. And what's not to like about more weddings?
Shenna Bellows is the executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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