Update: State organizations using marriage momentum for ballot campaigns
May 15, 2012
Four states facing 2012 ballot campaigns concerning the freedom to marry are gearing up for November's election, using the momentum from last week's historical announcement from President Obama to galvanize supporters. In Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington, the 2012 ballot will ask voters to decide on the state's freedom to marry policy. While state-wide organizations working toward the freedom to marry in each state are preparing for the initiatives differently, it's clear that all of them will be intensifying their efforts over the next several months. Here are some updates out of each state:
Mainers United for Marriage has been leading the campaign for a ballot initiative in November that would approve the freedom to marry.
Yesterday, the organization announced a major donation and the launch of a fundraising matching challenge. Chris Hughes and his fiancé, Freedom to Marry senior adviser Sean Eldridge, have pledged up to $100,000 to the organization as part of a four-week dollar-for-dollar matching gift challenge. The campaign began yesterday and ends on June 7.
In addition to the exciting fundraising challenge, Mainers United for Marriage is also hosting a statewide Day of Action on May 19 to energize supporters of the freedom to marry to volunteer for the campaign. Maine residents should sign up for the Day of Action here.
Mainers United is fully committed to covering the entire state to get the word out about the ballot campaign. This week, they open up a new field office and launch a comprehensive canvassing program.
Equality Maryland and Marylanders for Marriage Equality are committed to defending the freedom to marry, which Governor Martin O'Malley signed into law in March. Opponents of the bill are pushing for a referendum to put the law up to a vote.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality have launched a pledge to defend the freedom to marry in the state, which Maryland residents should sign here.
Last week, Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer, the Minority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives, announced his support for the freedom to marry, stating, "I believe that extending the definition of marriage to committed relationships between two people, irrespective of their sex, is the right thing to do and will not, in any way, undermine the institution of marriage so important to our society nor impose a threat to any individual marriage." His endorsement, paired with President Obama's affirmation last week, should go a long way in the state's campaign to defend the freedom to marry.
Minnesotans United for All Families has been working hard to get the word out about a proposed constitutional amendment to ban the freedom to marry, asking voters to reject the amendment at the ballot box. In one of the most energetic grassroots campaigns that Minnesota has ever seen, supporters of the freedom to marry have been joining the Minnesotans United for All Families campaign in droves.
Yesterday, a new poll released by SurveyUSA demonstrated for the first time in the state that a majority of Minnesotans supported the freedom to marry for all couples. The survey asked voters a wide range of questions, but one focused on President Obama's statement from last week that same-sex couples should be able to get married. 52 percent of those surveyed said they agreed with President Obama and only 42 percent said they disagreed. This represents an enormous increase in support from last November, when a poll indicated that 43 percent of respondents supported the freedom to marry.
Minnesotans United for All Families will further activate that momentum this weekend with their One Day United for All Families event. Families across the state will be hosting house parties to encourage voters to reject the amendment and to raise the funding necessary to defeat the proposed ban. The One Day United event will take place on May 20 - nearly a full year since the State Legislature voted to place the harmful amendment before voters.
Washington United for Marriage, a coalition of organizations committed to the freedom to marry, has been working this year to defend the freedom to marry, which the state's governor, Gov. Christine Gregoire, signed into law in February. Anti-gay activists from Preserve Marriage Washington have been collecting signatures to place Referendum 74 on the ballot, which asks voters to affirm or reject the freedom to marry. Preserve Marriage Washington has already collected more than 89,000 of the 120,577 signatures it needs.
Washington United for Marriage is working to collect signatures as well to demonstrate that supporters for the freedom to marry are just as powerful as anti-gay activists. Washington residents should take the pledge to approve Referendum 74 and stand for the freedom to marry for all couples.
Freedom to Marry is proud of and excited about the work that these state-level campaigns are doing to promote and defend the freedom to marry across the country.