Gay Issues

Maine's Gay Marriage Initiative Tied 2 Weeks Before Vote

| by Baptist Press

AUGUSTA, ME -- With two weeks left before Election Day, a new poll show Maine voters are evenly divided on a historic initiative that would reverse a state law that legalized "gay marriage."

According to the Public Policy Polling survey of 1,130 likely voters Oct. 16-19, 48 percent of Mainers say they will vote yes on Question 1, 48 percent would vote no and 5 percent are undecided. The survey is good news for Question 1 supporters, who were outraised 2-to-1 through September and trailed by 9 points in a poll conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 7. Both surveys used identical polling language -- the same language that will be found on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Question 1 would overturn a law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor that legalized "gay marriage." It has yet to go into effect. The initiative itself is a first: No state in the Northeast has ever voted on the issue. If Question 1 fails, it would be the first time in the nation's history that voters of any state affirmed "gay marriage."

Bob Emrich, spokesperson for Stand for Marriage Maine -- the primary group supporting Question 1 -- told Baptist Press the poll result was "a little encouraging" but not a surprise.

"The polls seem to be pretty consistent that that's about where the race is," he said. "Maybe I'm being optimistic, but I think we're probably a little bit further ahead than that. But considering the fact that the other side has been able to raise and outspend us by such huge margins ... I feel that [the poll] was reasonably good news."

Filings with the state government released Oct. 13 showed Protect Maine Equality had raised $2.7 million through the end of September compared to $1.1 million by Stand for Marriage Maine. Emrich said his organization has seen an uptick in donations since then, although he didn't have any hard numbers.

"I think people rallied a little bit when they saw how much the other side has been able to raise," he said.

The new poll was released Tuesday as Stand for Marriage Maine continues to try and persuade voters that "gay marriage" will impact what is taught in public schools. The latest ad spotlights a National Public Radio interview with a Massachusetts eighth-grade teacher who said she was teaching a pro-homosexuality curriculum. The NPR interview was conducted shortly after Massachusetts legalized "gay marriage."

"[T]his is legal now," the teacher says. "If somebody wants to challenge me, I say give me a break."

Emrich said the winner on Election Day likely will be determined by which side does a better job getting its voters to the polls. Carole Edgerly, a pastor's wife who helped lead the drive at Farmington Baptist Church to get Question 1 on the ballot, agrees.

"We just remain hopeful," Edgerly told Baptist Press. "We're going to do our part and God will have to do the rest. Sometimes Christians are so lethargic. They have an opinion but for some reason getting them out to go to the polls is very difficult. There are people calling them, encouraging them."

Emrich believes that most poll results on the issue of "gay marriage" should be viewed somewhat skeptically.

"People, when they talk to pollsters, kind of feel like they need to be politically correct.... Some people are a little reluctant to talk about their position, especially if they are in favor of traditional marriage. They've been told so many times that that's being hateful," he said. "But when they pull the curtain and get ready to do the voting, I think they'll do the right thing."