News release from The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund applauds the Maine Senate’s passage today of legislation that would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. The measure advances to the House.
Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
“Today’s victory in Maine will resonate throughout the country as other states continue to consider extending the freedom to marry. Following recent marriage victories in Iowa and Vermont, today’s vote affirms the national momentum building for marriage equality. As legislators and the public continue to debate the issue, people are increasingly recognizing that only marriage provides same-sex couples with the dignity, respect and protections that are bestowed by the institution. We urge the House to now pass this critically important legislation.
“We congratulate our state partner, EqualityMaine, for its great work to achieve this hard-fought victory. Because of EqualityMaine’s leadership, same-sex couples in Maine are one step closer to winning the freedom to marry. The Task Force is proud of its 5-year partnership with EqualityMaine to achieve today’s victory.”
Statement by Betsy Smith
Executive Director, EqualityMaine
“The Maine State Senate today took a clear stand for fairness and equality for all Maine families. This was a difficult issue for many legislators, but in the end it was about upholding the constitutional value to treat everyone equally under the law. We are so proud of the Senate for not abdicating its responsibility by carefully studying the issue and not simply leaving it to voters to decide. Our long-term partnership with the Task Force has directly led to our ability to build and run a grassroots program rooted in identifying, recruiting and training volunteers to have face-to-face conversations with their legislators and voters. This partnership has made all the difference. It wasn't long ago when LGBT families would not have come forward to tell the stories of their lives to their neighbors and legislators. This effort has made all the difference in all of our lives.”
More about the Task Force’s investment in Maine
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund have invested significantly in the work of EqualityMaine to build greater political power for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community:
The Task Force Foundation has:
- Given $82,000 to launch and grow EqualityMaine’s first-ever voter identification project. The grant enabled EqualityMaine to hire its first statewide organizer to recruit and train hundreds of volunteers to talk with voters face to face about marriage equality and identify voters supportive of the issue. As a result, EqualityMaine has built a list of more than 50,000 identified supporters of the freedom to marry, one of the largest such state lists in the country.
- Organized the Maine LGBT Power Summit in late April, which brought together 140 leaders from across the country, including more than 70 Mainers, for training in campaign fundamentals. At the summit, participants walked door to door and spoke with more than 1,100 voters about marriage equality and raised more than $52,000 for their respective state or local organizations.
- Trained more than 30 additional Maine leaders at Task Force Power Summits in 2004-2005 to support EqualityMaine’s voter identification project.
The Task Force Action Fund has:
- Sent organizers to work on the ground in Maine in February 2009 to launch EqualityMaine’s marriage equality field program. Following the April Power Summit, several Task Force organizers remained in Maine to provide additional field support in the final days leading up to the Senate vote.
- Provided $20,000 to EqualityMaine in seed money in January 2009 to EqualityMaine to hire nine field organizers.
- Dedicated a Task Force organizer to work full time for one month in the No on 1 campaign in 2005, which successfully defeated a referendum that would have repealed its statewide nondiscrimination law.
- Contributed $93,000 to the No on 1 campaign.