AUGUSTA, Maine — The latest campaign finance reports make one thing clear: The campaign to repeal Maine’s gay marriage law needs to raise money fast if it wants to prevail in a fast-approaching referendum that’s being watched across the country.
Reports filed this week show that supporters of Maine’s same-sex marriage law have raised $2.7 million. That compares with $1.1 million backers of the repeal have raised.
“I think it’s a serious problem,” said University of Maine political science professor Mark Brewer, who like other observers was surprised by the spread. “That’s a big differential.”
But Brewer said the shortfall could prompt gay-marriage opponents to send in more money for their cause, bringing a last-minute flood of donations to Stand for Marriage Maine, the group that petitioned to get the repeal measure on the ballot.
“We are under budget and we need to raise some serious dollars in the next few days and weeks,” said Marc Mutty, who is on leave from his public affairs post with the Catholic Diocese of Portland to work for the campaign.
Gov. John Baldacci signed the same-sex marriage bill in May, but it hasn’t gone into effect, pending the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.
The biggest expenses for Stand for Marriage Maine and the group campaigning against the repeal, called NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality, is television air time for advertising.
Stand for Marriage warns in its ads that the law will lead to gay marriage being taught in schools. Gay marriage supporters rebut that idea and say in their ads that Maine families are very diverse, sometimes including gay parents, and need to be protected.
Both sides are getting support from across the country.
Stand for Marriage Maine received contributions from 27 states. Its largest contributor, National Organization for Marriage of Princeton, N.J., raises funds nationwide for “targeted races of strategic importance across the country,” says its Web site. Stand for Marriage’s second-largest contributor was the Diocese of Portland.
NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality got even more out-of-state support. In the last quarter, a little more than half of its contributions came from out-of-state donors. Overall, there were more than 12,000 individual donations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Mutty believes that No on 1’s successful appeal to donors coast-to-coast is proof that gay marriage is more than just a one-state issue.
“It’s very much a national movement,” Mutty said.
Others, including, Allie Cashin of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston, credit the NO on 1 campaign’s aggressive use of the Internet for its successful 50-state appeal. The group gave nearly $42,000 in in-kind services to the NO on 1 campaign, according to the funding report.
Cashin said the NO on 1 campaign doesn’t see its funding edge as a sign to ease off for the remainder of the campaign.
“They’re going to be working to the bone until Nov. 3,” she said.