Election 2012: Maine makes history with passage of Question 1 granting same-sex couples the freedom to marry

Voters in Maine have made history by making the state the first to pass a proactive ballot measure granting same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has a long history working in Maine, and is part of the Mainers United for Marriage coalition. The Task Force has contributed significant staff and financial resources to build for and secure the passage of Question 1.

Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said:

This victory is one for the history books. It marks a huge milestone not just for Maine, but for all of America.

Not that we were surprised. We knew the day would come when Maine would rejoin the ever-growing list of states that treat all families with fairness and dignity.

We still remember so vividly the elation and joy felt by thousands when marriage equality legislation was first signed into law in Maine three years ago. We remember just as vividly the feelings of devastation when a referendum stripping couples of the freedom to marry passed just a few months later.

But much has changed since then, as Mainers and others throughout the country have continued to have personal and poignant conversations about why marriage matters to them. These conversations have occurred in living rooms, around kitchen tables, on Facebook, and elsewhere. The transformative nature of people talking about their love and their lives is clear, as we see with this victory in Maine, and in the fact that the majority of Americans now supports the freedom to marry.

The momentum for the freedom to marry is undeniable. This victory once again shows that our elected officials and policy-makers can take even more comfort in doing the right thing and standing on the right side of history.

We congratulate Mainers United for Marriage — especially our good friends at EqualityMaine and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders — and all those who worked so hard to secure this victory. We are proud to have stood with them, shoulder to shoulder, over the many months and years that it has taken to get to this historic place.

We rejoice in this moment and continue to press forward to the day when loving, committed couples in every state can share in the celebration and responsibilities of marriage.

The Task Force’s long history of marriage equality work 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 and Mainers United for Marriage:

In 2012, the Task Force Action Fund was a partner in the Mainers United for Marriage coalition. This support included:

  • Dedicating full-time organizers to work on campaign.
  • Giving $109,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to the campaign.
  • Recruiting volunteers from around the country to take Volunteer Vacations to work in the campaign.

In 2009, the Task Force Foundation:

  • Gave $82,000 to launch and grow EqualityMaine’s first-ever voter identification project.
  • Organized the Maine LGBT Power Summit, which brought together leaders from across the country.

In 2009, the Task Force Action Fund:

  • Sent organizers to work on the ground in Maine to launch EqualityMaine’s marriage equality field program.
  • Provided $20,000 to EqualityMaine in seed money to hire field organizers.
  • Contributed $93,000 to the No on 1 campaign.

In 2005, the Task Force Foundation:

  • Gave $75,000 in grants to EqualityMaine to identify pro-LGBT voters.
  • Gave $94,500 in cash contributions to Maine Won’t Discriminate to fight the repeal effort.
  • Sent seasoned staff to work on the campaign and led intensive trainings of Maine activists.
  • Dedicated a Task Force organizer to work full time in the No on 1 campaign.