Maine same-sex marriage campaign raises $100,000, will get matching funds from Facebook founder

Posted June 11, 2012, at 7:10 p.m.
Last modified June 12, 2012, at 5:24 a.m.
Chris Hughes
Reuters
Chris Hughes

PORTLAND, Maine — Supporters of same-sex marriage exceeded the $100,000 they needed to raise to receive a matching contribution from a co-founder of Facebook.

The Mainers United for Marriage campaign raised $121,197 as of Friday but topped $100,000 on Thursday, the deadline for raising the matching funds, David Farmer, spokesman for the campaign, said Monday.

Chris Hughes, editor-in-chief of the liberal magazine The New Republic, who owns 1 percent of Facebook, and his fiance, Sean Eldridge, president of Hudson River Ventures and senior adviser to the national organization Freedom to Marry, in May promised the campaign $100,000 if it raised matching funds in a month.

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.

Farmer said Monday that more than 1,000 people contributed to the matching fund, with 470 of them donating for the first time. The average contribution was $115, he said.

“We’re happy with the results,” Farmer, who writes a column for the Bangor Daily News, said in a telephone interview. “It exceeded our expectations.”

Information about who contributed how much to the matching grant will be available in the next campaign finance report due to be filed on July 24 with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

Protect Marriage Maine, which opposes same-sex marriage, will kick off its fundraising efforts on Father’s Day with special collections in nearly 200 churches around the state, according to Carroll Conley, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine.

As of June 1, Mainers United for Marriage had raised about $359,000 compared with the nearly $10,000 raised by Protect Marriage Maine, according to a previously published report. Supporters of same-sex marriage claimed contributions from about 2,800 individual donors compared with nearly two dozen listed by opponents.

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