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Polling Numbers Giving Freedom to Marry Ballot Efforts Advantage as Election Day Approaches

Jana Kooren,
ACLU of Minnesota
Meredith Curtis,
ACLU of Maryland
Dean Jackson,
ACLU of Washington
Jill Barkley,
ACLU of Maine
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October 31, 2012

With less than a week until Election Day, ACLU affiliates and their coalition partners in states with questions regarding marriage for gay and lesbian couples on the ballot are intensifying their efforts to make history next week. In Maine, Maryland and Washington, voters have the opportunity to expand the freedom to marry to same-sex couples; and Minnesota voters could make that state the first ever to defeat a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Polling data in each of the four states is encouraging, but close. As we near the finish line, thousands of volunteers and coalition staffers are working hard to ensure that all loving, committed couples can marry. Here’s a round up of what’s happening on the ground:

Maine – 200,000 conversations on the freedom to marry; 50,000 more to come!

Latest public polling from Public Policy Polling shows Question One gaining 52 percent amongst Maine voters. Other polls have placed support higher at 57 percent. While these polls are encouraging, the ACLU of Maine is working hard with Mainers United for Marriage to achieve the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in our state. To date, campaign staff and volunteers have had over 200,000 one-on-one conversations and are planning to have another 50,000 between now and Election Day.

Steve Abbott, Maine Republican for Marriage

The ACLU of Maine has worked to engage diverse support, including the support of Republicans. Last week, the ACLU of Maine partnered with Mainers United to host two final press events with supportive Republicans from around the state. Their support adds a unique perspective to the debate about same-sex marriage.

Steve Abbott, former candidate for Governor, added his name to a list of nearly 1,000 Republicans United for Marriage. In a recent statement he said, “As a Republican, I value personal responsibility and believe that the family is the foundation of our community. That’s why I support the freedom to marry for all, loving committed couples in Maine.”

Maryland – Revealing the truth about our opponents’ misleading ads.

The latest poll in Maryland shows that 52 percent of voters support Question 6 – which would allow gay and lesbian couples to get civil marriage licenses – while only 43 percent oppose it. But we expect our opponents, including the National Organization for Marriage, to push even harder at the last minute to create negative and false ads and raise the money to put them on air.

But there is great work being done to counter the opposition’s misinformation campaign. The ACLU of Maryland has launched a new website, “Marriage in Maryland,” which provides accurate legal information about the Civil Marriage Protection Act and serves as a fact-checker for misleading TV and radio ads.

In addition, the Baltimore Sun recently did some great fact-checking too, in an editorial published in response to Baltimore Ravens football player Matt Birk’s reasons for opposing marriage equality. The Sun concludes: “Question 6 is about whether we recognize committed same-sex couples to be equal in society. That will protect children and strengthen the institution of marriage.”

We’re confident that when voters get the real facts and truth about Question 6, that they will support fairness and equality and vote FOR Question 6!

Washington – Leading the nation towards the freedom to marry.

With ballots due in less than a week, the race concerning Referendum 74 is a tight one. The latest Elway poll shows voter approval at 49 percent, and opposition at 45 percent. We have always known that this would be a close race. Washington state has a chance to make history with this vote and lead the nation in affirming the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. Right now, the job of all of the dedicated staff and amazing volunteers working for marriage equality is to stay disciplined and focused. This final push will build on the momentum we’ve established and bring victory to the state. Those who support marriage equality have the most important jobs of all: voting. After all, the most important poll happens in the Elections Office.

The Approve Referendum 74 campaign has received support from local community and political leaders. Bob Shimabukuro, a local writer and historian, wrote an op-ed that speaks very personally about his family experience as well as what he witnessed while he was Director at Asian Pacific AIDS Council. “Marriage is not simply a two-person thing. It’s a family affair. That’s why I believe R74 will be approved. And it will be approved because of the Asian-American vote, not in spite of it.”

State Representative Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney and former Seattle City Council member Martha Choe co-authored an inspiring piece that reminds us of Washington state’s history as a national marriage equality leader in the 1930’s and urges voters to take the lead again by Approving Referendum 74. With ballots due in less than a week, voters have the opportunity to make history and resume our role as a national leader for the freedom to marry.

Minnesota – Many voices on the freedom to marry continue to push polls in our favor.

Polling is leaning in our favor, but we still have work to do! The latest poll numbers released in early October by Public Policy Polling have us ahead with 49 percent opposing the hurtful amendment and 46 percent supporting it.

What has helped us keep the poll numbers in our favor is that in Minnesota we have had many people tell their stories about why they are voting no. They range from political figures like Former Vice President Walter Mondale, to Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe to leaders of some of Minnesota’s top businesses. One of our personal favorites at the ACLU of Minnesota was written by former ACLU board member & former Minnesota legislator, Jack Davies. His commentary featured in Minnesota’s largest newspaper, The Star Tribune, spoke about the Minnesota Constitution and why it shouldn’t be used for exclusionary amendments like this one.

An even more personal and heartfelt story came from a young woman who wrote about being raised by two loving moms and what that meant to her. In an op-ed for The Star Tribune, Sarah Ann Baillie fondly remembers the influence her two moms had on her, saying: “In my family, I found an example of the kind of person I wanted to be and the values that I want to pass on to my children someday. Both of my moms — individually, and together through their relationship — have made central to their lives the work of creating a better future for their children and all children.”

As the negative attack ads start descending on us in Minnesota, it is important that we keep spreading the message every day that the foundation of any good relationship is that two people love each other and are committed to each other, and that this rings true for all couples.

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