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Supporters of same-sex marriage outraise opponents 36-to-1

Posted June 01, 2012, at 10:38 p.m.
Last modified June 02, 2012, at 1:54 p.m.
Carroll Conley, executive director, and the Rev. Bob Emrich, chairman of board of directors of the Christian Civic League of Maine, are seen in January 2012.
Carroll Conley, executive director, and the Rev. Bob Emrich, chairman of board of directors of the Christian Civic League of Maine, are seen in January 2012. Buy Photo
David Farmer
David Farmer Buy Photo

AUGUSTA, Maine — Supporters of same-sex marriage in Maine have raised much more money than their opponents, according to financial reports filed Friday with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

Mainers United for Marriage raised about $359,000 compared with the nearly $10,000 raised by Protect Marriage Maine, the main political action committees for each side of the issue. Supporters of same-sex marriage claimed contributions from about 2,800 individual donors compared with nearly two dozen listed by opponents.

Under Maine election law, political action committees involved in referendum campaigns had to file reports before 11:59 p.m. Friday. Reports include money raised and spent between April 1 and May 29.

Mainers will vote Nov. 6 on whether to allow marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples. The referendum question in February was placed on the ballot after the secretary of state’s office validated the nearly 60,000 signatures on petitions submitted by supporters the previous month.

“Our volunteers and donors are engaged in the campaign,” David Farmer, spokesman for the campaign, said Friday. “The donations we’ve received from more than 2,000 Mainers reaffirms the information we are seeing in the polling and the conversations volunteers are having on the phone and going door-to-door.

“People are engaged and interested in this issue,” he continued. “There is growing support for allowing same-sex couples to marry.” Farmer writes a column for the BDN.

Carroll Conley of Protect Marriage Maine said that the amount of money raised does not reflect how voters feel about the issue. He also said that the campaign opposing gay marriage will kick off it fundraising campaign on Father’s Day when between 150 to 200 Maine churches will take a special collection for the campaign.

“I’m not that concerned about the money raised to this point,” Conley said Friday. “We know from the last campaign that we aren’t going to be able to raise as much money as the other side will. If we are able to raise $1 million in this state, that would be tremendous.”

Mainers on Nov. 3, 2009, voted 53 percent to 47 percent to repeal a law that allowed same-sex couples to marry. It had been passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Baldacci in the spring of 2009. After the loss at the ballot box, EqualityMaine, a member organization that works on issues of importance to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, began an outreach campaign to talk about the issue and began gathering signatures in August 2011 to put a question before voters.

Mainers United for Marriage, the primary PAC supporting same-sex marriage, reported raising $359,163 for the period and $464,722 for the year. It had $234,286 on hand at the end of the period.

The largest single donation came from a co-founder of Facebook who is editor-in-chief of the liberal magazine The New Republic. Chris Hughes and his fiance, Sean Eldridge, president of Hudson River Ventures and senior adviser to the national organization Freedom to Marry, gave the campaign $50,000.

That is half the $100,000 matching gift promised to the campaign, which has until June 7 to raise the matching money. Information about how much has been raised toward that goal was not available Friday.

The campaign listed $59,673 in unitemized contributions, which are not specifically identified in the report.

The PAC received $68,307 in in-kind contributions, most of which was work done by EqualityMaine staffers. Other in-kind contributions included work done by staff at organizations that are members of the coalition supporting the referendum.

Expenditures for the period totaled $212,367, much of which was for rent at the campaign’s five offices and staff salaries.

Protect Marriage Maine, the primary PAC raising money to oppose the referendum, raised $9,754 for the period and spent just $953. The PAC had $10,486 on hand Friday including $1,685 raised during the first quarter of the year.

The largest single donor listed was the Newport Church of God, which contributed $800. The source of about $6,000 in contributions is not identified specifically in the report.

The PAC also received nearly $3,200 in in-kind contributions. All but $40 of that came from the National Organization for Marriage in Washington, D.C., the group that contributed the majority of the money to the same-sex marriage repeal effort three years ago.

A majority of the money was spent on mailing lists and a Web page. The Christian Civic League of Maine gave an in-kind contribution valued at $40 for the use of office equipment.

The Mainers United for Marriage campaign will open its fifth campaign office at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Kennebunk on Sunday. The campaign also has field offices in Brewer, Kennebunk, Lewiston and Portland.

Conley said Friday that the Protect Marriage Maine campaign would be headquartered at the Christian Civic League’s office in Augusta and would pay rent to the organization.

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