It took the surprised opposition almost a month to respond with its own list of religious leaders, by which time Equality Maine was lining up newspaper endorsements. A carefully staged press conference in January marked the bill's introduction. Lots of upright-citizen types and cute kids. A month later, several clean-cut gay couples went to the State House to tell their stories and do a little lobbying. By March, 60 legislators had signed on as co-sponsors. Opponents were still trying to get their message straight (so to speak).
At the April public hearing, backers of the bill (dressed in red so they were easy to spot) outnumbered those against it by four to one. A few days later, Judiciary Committee members came out (well, sorta) in favor. Both the House and Senate gave the bill solid support, and it was promptly signed by Governor John Baldacci, previously an opponent.
None of this happened by accident. It was all planned.
As was the wording of the ballot question opponents hope to use to repeal the law. Instead of mentioning only the same-sex marriage issue, the language approved by the secretary of state (after subtle lobbying by Equality Maine) also says the measure allows churches to refuse to perform such nuptials.
Balanced? Maybe. Slick? You bet.
Six months ago, I'd have given same-sex marriage about the same chance of winning a popular vote in Maine as I'd give Republicans of gaining control of the Legislature: zero. Now, I think the odds are close to even. And the momentum is all going one way.
Those gay people have gotten good at this political stuff.
Hey, is that a new stereotype?
Got a comment? No matter what type — stereo or mono — you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.