The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Stacey Gates or Drew Courtney at 202-467-4999 /

Outside Religious Right Groups Targeting Marriage Equality in Maine With a Prop 8-Style Campaign Based on Lies and Big Money

PFAW issues report on Religious Right's Anti-Equality Campaign


People For the American Way issued a report today that documents how the Religious
Right is targeting marriage equality in Maine with big money and false attacks,
virtually identical to the fearmongering strategies in 2008's Proposition
8 campaign in California.

"The fight to protect marriage equality in Maine hasn't gotten the
same national attention that Prop 8 did in California, but national Religious
Right organizations are pouring resources into their anti-equality
effort," said Peter Montgomery, Senior Fellow at People For the American
Way. "The far right is determined to deny equality to same-sex
couples in Maine, no matter what it takes. Fortunately, a smart
Mainer-led campaign is mobilizing support for the state's marriage equality law
and the families it will protect."

The report, titled "Religious
Right Targets Maine & Marriage Equality With Money, Anti-Gay Swat Teams and
Reprise of Prop. 8's False Fearmongering Strategies
details national Religious Right organizations' campaign to reverse gains
by marriage equality advocates in the northeast:

  • This
    past weekend, national anti-gay leaders and veterans of last year's
    Prop 8 battle in California descended on Maine.
    National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Council and Focus on
    the Family brought a national A-list of anti-gay activists to town for a no-press-allowed
    rally on Sunday and a closed-door "pastors briefing" on
    Monday. Among the Religious Right celebrities were
    Harry Jackson and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, as well as San Diego preacher
    Chris Clark. San Diego was the center
    of church-based anti-gay organizing in California.
  • The
    right-wing is not interested in running a "fact-filled"
    and "honest, civil and respectful campaign," and are instead
    choosing the low road of fearmongering and false attacks - much like
    we saw in California.
    Frank Schubert, the California-based political
    consultant who ran the Prop 8 campaign and was brought to Maine by
    Religious Right groups to try to replicate his success, concocted a
    campaign strategy based on scaring enough people into believing that
    marriage equality would somehow turn public schools into gay
    indoctrination centers. Schubert has done plenty
    of bragging
    about how his firm shifted gears and won the campaign by creating fear and
    uncertainty about the effects of marriage equality on children.
  • The
    money has poured into the campaign against marriage equality in Maine, with more than 99 percent of the early money
    coming from four organizations, and less than 1 percent coming from Maine voters.

    Four groups account for $341,000 of the $343,000 anti-gay marriage
    funds reported on July disclosure forms: the New Jersey-based
    National Organization for Marriage contributed $160,000; the Catholic
    diocese of Portland
    anted up $100,000; the Knights of Columbus chipped in $50,000, and Focus
    on the Family Maine added $31,000.
    Contributions from Maine
    individuals amounted to $400, less than one percent of the amount
    raised. Some donations from Maine
    were likely funneled through the National Organization for Marriage, which
    has this year been enthusiastically encouraging
    its supporters to launder their contributions to anti-gay initiatives through
    NOM in order to thwart state campaign finance laws designed to let the
    public know who is paying for campaigns.

"Anti-gay leaders have realized
that they cannot reverse progress toward equality with an honest debate,
so they've resorted to the politics of fear," said People For
the American Way President Michael B. Keegan.
"It's important that Mainers get the full story about who is
playing politics with their state."

The full report can be viewed here.
Interviews with PFAW public policy experts about these strategies can be
arranged via our Communications Department
at 202-467-4999.

People For the American Way works to build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunity. We fight against right-wing extremism and the injustice it fosters.

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