Big Win in Maine

"After 28 years, it's over, you guys. We won.”

That’s Pat Peard, as reported by the Portland Press Herald, talking to an enthusiastic roomful of campaign supporters about a major victory for equality in Maine yesterday.

By a 55-45 percent margin, Maine voters resoundingly rejected an effort to deny basic equality for LGBT people. Yesterday marked the third time that opponents of equality tried to repeal civil rights laws passed by the Legislature. This time, they failed.

The voters of Maine finally stood squarely against discrimination. But it took a long time. Maine lawmakers first introduced a version of the nondiscrimination measure in the 1970’s.

The Maine story says something about the tenacity of the anti-gay industry. It also tells us that, in the end, they lose. Slowly but surely, reasonable and compassionate people understand there is nothing to fear in ending discrimination.

Unfortunately for the people of Texas, the news there yesterday was not so positive. Voters in that state approved a constitutional ban on civil unions and marriage. The result is devastating for the families in Texas, but it is not unexpected.

It also does not reflect on the effort in Wisconsin. Unlike Wisconsin, Texas has never been a civil rights vanguard--for anybody.

Wisconsin voters are a lot more like the voters of Oregon and Michigan than those of Texas, and Oregon and Michigan had the two closest amendment vote margins in 2004. (Michigan was 59%-41%, and Oregon was 57-43%.)

And unlike in Oregon and Michigan, which had campaigns for only a few months, in Wisconsin we’ve already had more time to talk to voters about the dangers of the ban on civil unions and marriage. And we’ve got 363 days left.

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