October 12, 2012
Yesterday’s Washington Post profiled the pro-marriage equality campaign in Wahington state seeking to approve Referendum 74, touching upon two stark facts that form the central dilemma the campaign faces this fall: 1) the pro-equality side has much more money than the anti-equality side and 2) the anti-equality side has a much better track record. Washington United for Marriage, the pro-marriage equality group supporting Referendum 74, has $8.9 million in the bank and around 4,000 volunteers. ”There is kind of a historical moment at play here,” campaign manager Zach Silk told the Post, pointing to the surge in support marriage equality received from President Obama’s public announcement on the issue in May.
Nevertheless, challenges remain. As Silk put it to the Post, “32 out of 32 losses is pretty daunting.” And the attitude of the anti-equality side in Washington makes it clear that the fight is anything but over. “We do not need to match the other side dollar-for-dollar to get our message out,” Chip White, the communications director for Preserve Marriage Washington, told the Post. PMW has raised $1.8 million so far ($725,000 of it from NOM), and believes that the very strong polling results marriage equality has seen in the last month or so will tighten as the race continues. PMW just aired its first ad of the season yesterday, and hopes that public opinion will shift in the last stages of the race like it did in California on Proposition 8.
Also yesterday, Blake Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom, Inc, and Erik Nordstrom, Nordstrom’s President of Stores, sent an email to the company’s 56,000 employees endorsing Referendum 74. Blake and Erik Nordstrom’s email noted that the company, which was founded in Seattle in 1901, was one of the first companies to add sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination policy and has offered its gay and lesbian employees life partner benefits since 1998. From the email:
We feel the next step in this journey is to now support freedom to marry, also called marriage equality. There is a lot of awareness of this issue across the country and we’ve heard from many employees and customers. We gave this thoughtful consideration and felt the time was right to come out in support of this civil rights issue. It is our belief that our gay and lesbian employees are entitled to the same rights and protections marriage provides under the law as all other employees. We also believe supporting freedom to marry will help us create a more attractive and inclusive workplace for our current and prospective employees. Again – this decision is consistent with our long-time philosophy of inclusivity and equality for our customers and employees.
In Maine, the Bangor City Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Wednesday night endorsing Question 1 and marriage equality, but both of the states’ sitting Republican senators have declined to take a position on the ballot measure. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are among the more moderate GOPers in the Senate–for example, both voted for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in late 2011, co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006.
But in an email with the Washington Blade yesterday morning, Senator Collins said she was “considering” her opinion on Question 1:
“Historically, laws regulating family and domestic affairs have been almost exclusively regulated by the states which is why I have voted against federal constitutional amendments defining marriage. Next month, the voters in Maine will be asked to decide if they will allow the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Like voters in my state, I am considering this issue very carefully.”
“It is left to individual states through the legislature or referenda to make their own determinations on this personal issue — and the people of Maine will now make this final determination come Election Day.”
Finally, in Maryland, the pro-marriage equality campaign has released two ads in the Baltimore area featuring African-American pastors who support Question 6 in an effort to push back on anti-equality ads that have been running in the state. The opponents of Question 6 aired their first ad on Monday in the Washington, D.C. area, and Marylanders for Marriage Equality sent a fundraising email on Tuesday telling supporters the campaign needed more money to start airing TV spots in the capitol’s media markets, which are more expensive than those in Maryland itself. The pro-equality side will hold a rally today at 4 p.m. at the University of Maryland at College Park with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, state Delegates Heather Mizeur and Luke Clippinger and state Senator Rich Madaleno.
On a personal note, I’ll be out of the country next week, so I won’t be posting my usual morning updates. Scottie will take the reins for the week and I’ll be back online October 22 as we head into the exciting last few weeks before the elections!
You can watch the two Maryland ads, which feature Rev. Donté Hickman and Delman Coates, below the fold.
UPDATE (12:00 pm): As Seth in Maryland pointed out in the comments, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a $250,000 donation to Marylanders for Marriage Equality which the campaign confirmed today, according to the Washington Post. In addition, the Human Rights Campaign announced today that it is contributing an addition $1 million to the marriage equality campaigns in Washington, Maryland, Maine and Minnesota.