Fixing Our Left Coast Mistake
For so many people, the passage of Prop. 8 last November represented a civil rights failure. But it was just as much a political failure. A campaign that could have been about neighbor-to-neighbor contact and recognizing what brings us together rather than sets us apart was instead waged at 30,000 feet. The TV ads for the No campaign never showed one gay couple, and they never spent any resources on door-to-door canvassing. The consultants who ran that campaign (into the ground) claimed that visibility mattered more than personal persuasion (they actually told volunteers to get on a street corner and hold signs instead of interacting directly with people), and the entire race was waged in a defensive crouch, as the Yes campaign would post one lie after another to which the No campaign would belatedly respond.
In November there will be a chance to right this wrong, to apply the proper political means to achieve a civil rights victory. Gay marriage has been legalized by the legislature in Maine (that activist legislature!), and the same forces that passed Prop. 8 in California have qualified a ballot measure to overturn it. Instead of a state with 17 million registered voters, the universe of likely voters in Maine is just around 500,000. The No on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign figures that they will need between $3-$5 million to wage a successful campaign. Considering the netroots provided nearly $1.5 million for the failed No on 8 campaign, putting a similar amount into a campaign that will actually identify supporters and turn them out to the polls should be an easier task.
If you have any suspicion that the Maine folks don't know what they're doing, take a look at this first commercial, one of the best I've seen on this subject:
The theocrats are targeting Maine as the place where they can turn back the momentum on marriage equality from the past few months. Civil rights campaigns are long and often painful, and sometimes they have to go directly to the people. We can win this time. Support Maine Freedom to Marry.