Election 2012: Back in Maine…

By Trina Olson, Task Force Senior Training Manager

I touched down, walked off the plane and I was back. The Portland, Maine, airport is unmistakable — less than 15 gates, examples of state pride in glass displays all over, and restaurants serving scrumptious lobster rolls. It’s like nowhere else I’ve ever been. I hadn’t been to Maine since the day after the first vote on marriage in November 2009. It’s been three years, but landing last month it all came rushing back to me.

I remember the people, the landscape and the election like it was yesterday. It’s strange, because so much has happened in my life since the Maine campaign — I moved twice, met, fell in love with and married my wife, and I even changed jobs. Yet still, the Maine campaign in 2009 feels like yesterday.

With memories washing over me, I headed to my rental car so I could get to work, doing what I’ve been trained for a decade to do — help passionate community organizers do their very best work. There is so much at stake and there is so much on their plates. Each organizer is responsible for turning out hundreds of volunteers and thousands of votes! That’s a lot to do.

I loved the Maine campaign in 2009. I love the Maine campaign in 2012 even more — because we’ve all learned, we’ve all grown, and we’re an even bigger team now than we were before.

Maine is an example of what it looks like for the LGBT community to stand up and go after what they want, what they deserve, what they need. I came out 12 years ago and am part of that bombastic generation of gay people who are standing on the shoulders of those who have come before us — out and unapologetic about it. The truth is, we lost the vote in 2009. But Mainers have a history of pushing back — they don’t quit until they win. The loss in 2009 was one step in an incredibly important public conversation happening all over a deceptively large state.

This is Maine’s second marriage campaign — with each surge forward we are certain that catalyzing open, honest and vulnerable conversations about gay people is powerful. Breaking down stereotypes and building authentic relationships with voters is good. Each conversation is one step closer. Each straight ally that steps forward to be with us is a win. Each LGBT person who comes out because of this campaign is a victory.

I am spilling over with pride for every person who has made the choice to take part in Maine’s campaign for marriage. The folks there, our staff, our friends, people we love are working their tails off. The opposition will be in full swing as of next week. Yuck. Our friends are bracing themselves to prepare for their lies and propaganda. Imagine that. It’s like knowing a tornado is coming. The people in Maine are standing up in the face of this oncoming storm and they are claiming their truth, sharing their stories and standing up for themselves, for one another and for those who are coming up after us.

Vote YES on 1. Stand with Mainers today! Stand with Mainers next week when the opposition goes after them! Stand up with Mainers for the next 32 days! It is on us to do everything we can to support them in their Herculean efforts. They are brave, they are working incredibly hard and they need us. Take a volunteer vacation to Maine so you can see what I’ve seen for the past 1,000 days — the people, the landscape and what is sure to be an unforgettable election!