The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Inga Sarda-Sorensen, Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463 (Cell) 202.641.5592

Task Force Action Fund Applauds Maine House's Passage of Marriage Equality Bill


The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund applauds the
Maine House's passage today of legislation that would extend the
freedom to marry to same-sex couples. The vote was 89 to 57. The
measure cleared the Senate last week; the bill faces one more vote in
that chamber before heading to Gov. John Baldacci.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund

"This vote marks another pivotal step forward in the effort to
secure equality for all Mainers. It's an exciting moment, and one that
affirms the national momentum building for marriage equality. The
decisive passage of this legislation, along with the recent marriage
wins in Iowa and Vermont, shows that people nationwide recognize that
the fundamental protection specifically provided through the
institution of marriage is what is necessary to achieve genuine
fairness. Through debate, dialogue and careful consideration, they are
concluding that denying this basic right doesn't protect anyone; it
simply places more families in harm's way and makes them more
vulnerable to hardship.

"We congratulate our state partner, EqualityMaine, for this
hard-fought victory. Thanks to EqualityMaine's leadership, same-sex
couples in Maine are at the cusp of winning the freedom to marry."

Statement by Betsy Smith
Executive Director, EqualityMaine

"The Maine House of Representatives today followed the lead of the
Senate, which stood solidly in support of fairness and equality for all
Maine families. We've had a majority of support in the House all along,
and applaud its leadership in both supporting the bill and defeating
any attempt to send this issue to voters to decide.

"Our long-term partnership with the Task Force has provided us with
the expertise to build and run a grassroots program unprecedented in
Maine. It has enabled us to identify, recruit and train volunteers to
have face-to-face conversations with tens of thousands of voters, who
then contacted their legislators in support of marriage. 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. Our partnership with
the Task Force has made all the difference."

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.
  • Trained more than 30 additional Maine leaders at Task Force Power
    Summits in 2004-2005 to support EqualityMaine's voter identification

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 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.

The National LGBTQ Task Force advances full freedom, justice and equality for LGBTQ people. We are building a future where everyone can be free to be their entire selves in every aspect of their lives. Today, despite all the progress we've made to end discrimination, millions of LGBTQ people face barriers in every aspect of their lives: in housing, employment, healthcare, retirement, and basic human rights. These barriers must go. That's why the Task Force is training and mobilizing millions of activists across our nation to deliver a world where you can be you. Join us!