The Marriage Equality Fight
While most politicos are looking at gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia to determine whether Democrats gain maintain a short-term advantage in 2010, it's clearly the battles over marriage equality and gay rights in Washington state and Maine where the true potential of a progressive realignment can be measured. On the heels of the March for Equality, we're entering the final weeks of two ballot measures to gauge this support.
In Washington, a vote against referendum 71 would actually take away domestic partner benefits from LGBT couples. Approve 71 has released their first ad, featuring a lesbian couple who has been together for 31 years.
In Maine, the fight is over marriage. The legislature passed a marriage equality law earlier this year, and the same forces who pushed through Prop. H8 in California have reassembled to try and revoke the law in Maine. This will feature two highly motivated forces with a clear decision to make on an issue of progressive values. Unlike in California, the pro-equality forces are well-prepared with a better message. For example, they actually show gay families in their ads:
Forces of bigotry are trying to pull that ad because it features a Roman Catholic mother. I guess they missed both the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion clauses in the First Amendment.
No on 1 just released their funding numbers for the third quarter, and they've raised a whopping $2.7 million dollars (very large for Maine), and have over 8,000 Mainers volunteering for the campaign. The Yes side reported only $1.1 million for the same period. And a brand-new poll shows the No side leading, 51.8%-42.9%. The Yes side is freaking out and sent an urgent email to their list yesterday asking for cash. Expect the Bat-Signal to light up at the Mormon Tabernacle any minute now.
Included in that fundraising total for No on 1 is nearly $1 million dollars in online contributions. The netroots is pushing for a moneybomb on Thursday, October 15, the last day of the financial reporting period. Joe Sudbay explains:
That's why in Maine, we're making one last major pitch before 11: 59 PM on October 15th. That date has special significance for two reasons: 1) It's the last day of the financial reporting period (the last one to be made public before election day); and 2) It's the first day of in-person absent voting. We want the No on 1 campaign to have all the resources it needs -- and to know that in advance [...]
The Courage Campaign, OpenLeft, Pam's House Blend and others are setting a goal to reach $1.1 million in online donations by October 15th. AMERICAblog readers have been very generous already. We beat our first goal of $25,000 and are heading to $50,000 now. Help us get there. And, help us win in Maine.
No on 1 is already at $1.077 million dollars on Act Blue as of 2:30pm ET today, so I'd expect the goal to rise.
The battle on marriage equality is the civil rights movement of the 21st century, and we've seen movement over the year, including yesterday. Whether Democrats have a 16-vote or 18-vote or 20-vote majority in the Senate is less suggestive of a progressive realignment than whether real advances for groups of Americans can be achieved. The fights in Washington and Maine would show that to be the case.