Task Force Action Fund applauds Maine House's passage of marriage equality bill

May 05, 2009

Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463
(Cell) 202.641.5592

WASHINGTON, May 5 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund applauds the Maine House's passage today of legislation that would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. The vote was 89 to 57. The measure cleared the Senate last week; the bill faces one more vote in that chamber before heading to Gov. John Baldacci.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund

“This vote marks another pivotal step forward in the effort to secure equality for all Mainers. It’s an exciting moment, and one that affirms the national momentum building for marriage equality. The decisive passage of this legislation, along with the recent marriage wins in Iowa and Vermont, shows that people nationwide recognize that the fundamental protection specifically provided through the institution of marriage is what is necessary to achieve genuine fairness. Through debate, dialogue and careful consideration, they are concluding that denying this basic right doesn’t protect anyone; it simply places more families in harm’s way and makes them more vulnerable to hardship.

“We congratulate our state partner, EqualityMaine, for this hard-fought victory. Thanks to EqualityMaine’s leadership, same-sex couples in Maine are at the cusp of winning the freedom to marry.”

Statement by Betsy Smith
Executive Director, EqualityMaine

"The Maine House of Representatives today followed the lead of the Senate, which stood solidly in support of fairness and equality for all Maine families. We've had a majority of support in the House all along, and applaud its leadership in both supporting the bill and defeating any attempt to send this issue to voters to decide.

"Our long-term partnership with the Task Force has provided us with the expertise to build and run a grassroots program unprecedented in Maine. It has enabled us to identify, recruit and train volunteers to have face-to-face conversations with tens of thousands of voters, who then contacted their legislators in support of marriage. It wasn't long ago when LGBT families would not have come forward to tell the stories of their lives to their neighbors and legislators. Our partnership with the Task Force has made all the difference."

More about the Task Force's investment in Maine

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund have invested significantly in the work of EqualityMaine to build greater political power for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community:

The Task Force Foundation has:

  • Given $82,000 to launch and grow EqualityMaine's first-ever voter identification project. The grant enabled EqualityMaine to hire its first statewide organizer to recruit and train hundreds of volunteers to talk with voters face to face about marriage equality and identify voters supportive of the issue. As a result, EqualityMaine has built a list of more than 50,000 identified supporters of the freedom to marry, one of the largest such state lists in the country.
  • Organized the Maine LGBT Power Summit in late April, which brought together 140 leaders from across the country, including more than 70 Mainers, for training in campaign fundamentals. At the summit, participants walked door to door and spoke with more than 1,100 voters about marriage equality.
  • Trained more than 30 additional Maine leaders at Task Force Power Summits in 2004-2005 to support EqualityMaine's voter identification project.

The Task Force Action Fund has:

  • Sent organizers to work on the ground in Maine in February 2009 to launch EqualityMaine's marriage equality field program. Following the April Power Summit, several Task Force organizers remained in Maine to provide additional field support in the final days leading up to the Senate vote.
  • Provided $20,000 to EqualityMaine in seed money in January 2009 to hire nine field organizers.
  • Dedicated a Task Force organizer to work full time for one month in the No on 1 campaign in 2005, which successfully defeated a referendum that would have repealed its statewide nondiscrimination law.
  • Contributed $93,000 to the No on 1 campaign.

The Task Force is proud of its 5-year partnership with EqualityMaine to achieve today's victory.

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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, founded in 1974 as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures. We also analyze and report on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community. The Task Force Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund are not tax deductible.