Marriage Equality: Why it Is Critical You Passionately Care About Maine
You care about Maine.
You fervently, powerfully, passionately care about Maine.
Trust me on this one. You may not know it yet. You may be going, "Maine? Huh? I mean, sure, Maine's cool, I've got nothing against Maine -- but care about it passionately?" You do. Maine is very, very important to you.
Let me explain why.
As you may or may not know, the Maine legislature recently legalized same-sex marriage. But Maine law allows for a "people's veto," letting voters overturn any law the legislature passes. There is, predictably, a proposition on the Maine ballot this November -- Proposition 1 -- to overturn this new law, and ban same-sex marriage in the state. People who support marriage equality are gearing up -- have been gearing up for some time -- to defeat Prop. 1.
So why is this so important? I mean, there are battles over same-sex marriage in lots of states: battles happening right now, and ones looming on the horizon. And they're happening in states that are a lot bigger than Maine, and a whole lot more visible. Why do you care about this one so much? Why is this fight different from all other fights?
There are two big reasons why you care about Maine. Momentum, and precedent.
Let's talk momentum first. The far right and the religious right see Maine's Proposition 1 as ground zero in the fight to stop same-sex marriage. They are already pouring huge gobs of money and resources into this one; they even got the same guy who ran the Yes on Prop 8 campaign to run it. They're not idiots: they see that the momentum for same-sex marriage has been building like a freight train. We lost a lot of steam over Prop 8; but we picked it up again with Iowa and Vermont and New Hampshire, and indeed with Maine. And public opinion is slowly but steadily shifting in favor of same-sex marriage.
The far right desperately wants to stop this one in its tracks.
We can't let them.
We have to keep the momentum going. Momentum is huge in changing public opinion: with every state that legalizes same-sex marriage, it becomes increasingly obvious that same-sex marriage won't destroy your family and poison your dog and bring civilization to its knees. It becomes increasingly obvious that when same-sex marriage is legalized, life goes on pretty much exactly like it did before -- except that same-sex couples will be visiting their partners in the hospital and so on.
And momentum is huge in politics. A win makes the next campaign on the issue seem less radical and less scary; not just for voters, but for politicians and public figures, who are way more likely to fight for a cause if it looks like it already has some traction. A win energizes and inspires the winners; a loss tends to demoralize the losers, and forces them to retrench. Plus, for better or worse, a lot of people don't like to feel like they're on the losing side. They're more likely to support a candidate or a cause when it looks like it can win, and is winning. With every state that legalizes same-sex marriage, the next one is way more likely to do it too. Same-sex marriage is going to look more normal, more like no big deal... and it's going to look inevitable.
The right isn't wrong about this one. This is ground zero. We need to get every bit as involved in No on 1 as we did in No on 8. If we lose this one, we will, in fact, have lost a tremendous amount of momentum. But if we win, we will have loaded a huge heap of coal into that freight train's engine. It will make the fight for same-sex marriage in every other state -- in New York, in New Jersey, in California in 2010 or 2012, and eventually in Oregon and Minnesota and Alabama -- much, much easier, and much more winnable.