When I read that citizens in Maine were seeking to gather signatures to overturn the legislation passed by the elected representatives of the people of the Pine Tree State to recognize same-sex marriage, I hoped they would not gather the 55,087 signatures needed to place a “people’s veto” on the state ballot. It did seem a large amount of signatures to gather in a state so small. But, last month, leaders of the Stand for Marriage, a “coalition of Mainers who support the traditional definition of marriage” “delivered a stack of cartons holding petitions with more than 100,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.”
While I believe the appropriate means for opponents would be the traditional republican method, working to defeat those representatives who voted for the legislation at the ballot box, these opponents have acted within the framework established by the state’s constitution. That said, these folks have less to grouse about than did supporters of California’s Proposition 8. The law recognizing gay marriage was passed by an elected legislature, signed by an elected governor, in a state which had never previously voted on the issue.
it was not as if courts had overturned the popular will.
All that said, 100,000 is a lot of signatures to gather in three months. It shows that the Stand for Marriage folks have a good grassroots effort which will help them significantly this fall. Without a marquee race (like President or Governor) on the state ballot, this referendum will hinge on turnout.
That is why it is imperative that those spearheading the movement to veto the people’s veto not repeat the mistakes made by the folks behind the “No on 8” effort last fall in the Golden State. Given the mood of the times, I suggest they recruit a libertarian conservative to lead the effort, focusing not on the left-wing mantra of equality, but instead of the American ideal of freedom.
If they make this a left v. right issue, they will lose and lose badly. If they attack opponents of gay marriage as bigots or haters or whatnot, they will lose. Remember that New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, who signed his state’s bill recognizing gay marriage, opposes gay marriage himself. That is, it is possible to get opponents of gay marriage to vote against the veto, provided supporters of the law can show how it respects religious freedom.
From what little I know about the campaign against the veto, I am not optimistic; I have heard it is being spearheaded by left-wingers. Still, they have time to bring in conserative leadership — or at the very least (unlike their California counterparts) to include friendly conservatives in their strategy sessions.