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The big win in Maine

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Gay rights took a big step forward last night when Maine voters soundly rejected the right wing. I spent the last week and a half volunteering on the campaign of Maine Won't Discriminate. It was an intense campaign right til the end. This was a huge and significant win -- the right wing haters lost by a 10 point margin of 55%- 45%:

"After 28 years, it's over, you guys. We won," Pat Peard, a longtime champion of gay rights, told supporters in Portland at 11 p.m. She was referring to the initial introduction of a gay rights bill in the Legislature in the 1970s, launching a struggle that has continued ever since.

The vote reversed a trend that dates back to 1998, when voters narrowly rejected a gay rights law in a special election. Voters again opposed a gay rights law in a follow-up referendum two years later.

Tuesday's referendum was held because opponents of the law used the so-called "people's veto" provision in the state Constitution to give voters a chance to repeal the law.
The margin of victory in Portland was 77% - 23% -- super, but that's not the best part. Maine Won't Discriminate won in all the bigger cities in the state -- even the more conservative places like Bangor, Biddeford and Lewiston. Our side won in small towns like Skowhegan. Across the state, Mainers rejected discrimination and the vitriol spewed by Michael Heath of the Maine Christian Civic League.

The campaign was a great blend of local and national gay leaders and straight allies. That was a winning combination.

The first anti-discrimination bill in Maine was introduced in 1977 by State Representative Larry Connolly. He was a force majeure in Maine Democratic politics who died way, way too young in 1987. His son, Jesse, was the campaign manager who helped implement his dad's vision yesterday.

I could write all day about the great people I worked with here in Maine -- the people from Maine and the folks who came in from both the Human Rights Campaign and The Task Force.

There's an old, old election adage, "As Maine goes, so goes the nation." That works for me.

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