Tuesday, November 3, 2009

As Maine Goes…

Most of the attention in today’s elections has been on the governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey and the GOP purification rite in the NY 23rd. But there’s also a referendum in Maine that could decide the fate of the same-sex marriage law that was passed by the legislature earlier this year. It’s on the ballot because the same anti-marriage equality gang that overturned Prop 8 in California last year decided to bring their carpetbags to Maine. It will be interesting to see if Mainers, who are known for their independence and shunning of outside interference, will go along with the idea of taking away a right that was granted by their elected representatives.

The ballot question — Question 1 — is a bit confusing: “Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?” Therefore, a “Yes” means No to marriage equality, and a “No” means Yes. If the referendum loses, Maine will become the first state in the union to allow same-sex marriage by popular vote; all of the other states have instituted it through legislation or court ruling.

Nate Silver, who has become the guru of American polling, predicted yesterday at his blog FiveThirtyEight that Yes is a 5-2 underdog, meaning that it will lose and marriage equality will stand in Maine. Given Mr. Silver’s track record — he nailed last year’s elections within a hair — there is reason to hope that Yes on 1 will go down in flames. Unlike California, this time supporters were not caught unprepared for the onslaught of fear-mongering and distortions about the horrors of allowing two people to commit their lives and property to each other regardless of their gender, and the proponents of overturning the law basically recycled the same crap-filled ads they’d run a year ago; it was almost as if they didn’t really notice where they were. Mainers don’t cotton to out-of-staters coming in and telling them what to do and how to think; in fact, most people really don’t like that, regardless of the issue.

This is the one election outcome I will be watching.