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Gay marriage supporters in Maine predict victory this go-around

The campaign manager for the group that put same-sex marriage back on the ballot in Maine believes additional organizing time will lead to a victory for gay mar

The campaign manager for the group that put same-sex marriage back on the ballot in Maine believes additional organizing time will lead to a victory for gay marriage supporters come November.

Mainers voted against a state law that would have legalized gay marriage three years ago during the midterm elections, but Mainers United for Marriage successfully petitioned to add a question legalizing same-sex marriage to the Nov. 6 ballot.

Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, told msnbc’s Thomas Roberts that those three years gave his group enough time to convince the state's 900,000-plus registered voters to vote the other way this time.

“The biggest difference quite frankly is time,” he said. “We’ve had so much time to continue what we started. In 2009, Maine came closer than any state previously had—we came within 30,000 votes of winning at the ballot—but that was 2009, and right from the day after election day we just picked up right where we had started continued the work.”

McTighe said it just had its 100,000 conversation with voters this week. Those conversations are “the central tenant” to the group’s campaign to educate Mainers on the proposal and to change minds.


The odds are not stacked in McTighe’s favor. In the 32 states where gay marriage has been put to the voters, it has failed. As msnbc’s Rachel Maddow has pointed out repeatedly, when you ask for a majority vote on minority rights, “generally minorities do not fare well.”

Opponents to gay marriage in Maine profess equal confidence despite being outgunned in the fundraising game. "I'll be surprised if we don't win," Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, one of the leading opposing groups, told The New York Times.

However, public opinion has been shifting toward accepting gay marriage as an option in the last year, and several recent polls on Maine voters showed a majority favoring gay marriage.

Mainers United for Marriage is banking on that public opinion shift, along with its activist campaign. The group recently exceeded its goal to raise $100,000 in order to receive a matching donation from Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook and the current editor-in-chief of The New Republic, and his fiancé Sean Eldridge.

Voter turnout could play a role, too. Maine had the second highest voter turnout rate—70.8%—during the last presidential election. The national turnout was 58%. During the midterms it remained high at around 50% in Maine (though reflecting the typically lower non-presidential year turnout ), but this did not help gay marriage advocates as some had hoped at the time.

The wording of the ballot question is also in question. Mainers United for Marriage would like to see language that spells out the fact that no clergy member would be forced against their beliefs to marry gay couples. The Secretary of State is expected to rule on wording of the question in July.