Equality Maine gathers signatures
Former Maine governor, John Baldacci, visited campus in the Fall of 2009 to thank students who volunteered with the "No on One" campaign to protect the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maine.
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On Nov. 3 2009, the majority of Mainers voted “yes” on Proposition One, effectively repealing a bill that allowed for same-sex marriage in Maine and reinstating the state’s domestic partnership law. But the initiative to legalize same-sex marriage in the state is perhaps stronger than ever now, as the political advocacy organization, Equality Maine, is again gathering signatures to ensure the issue is on the 2012 ballot.
So far, Equality Maine has gathered about 25,000 of the 80,000 signatures they need to collect before the end of the year, and the Bridge, the College’s student-run organization that represents lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the Colby community and their straight allies, is looking to get students on the Hill involved in the effort.
In 2009, the Bridge helped support the “No on One” campaign to preserve the right for same-sex marriage in Maine by shuttling over 350 students from campus to downtown Waterville so that they could vote in the referendum. They hope to do the same in the upcoming election. Because only registered Maine voters can weigh in on the issue, however, the first step of the process is registering students to vote in-state.
“The incoming freshmen don’t need to be registered in Massachusetts,” Carla Aronsohn ’13, co-president of the Bridge said of encouraging students to register to vote in Maine rather than their home state. “They need to be registered in a swing state.” Together with the Colby Democrats, the Bridge will be setting up a table in Pulver Pavillion toward the end of the month so that students can fill out a quick and easy form that will register them to vote in Maine.
Once students are registered in Maine, the next part of the process will be to gather signatures in support of seeing the issue on next year’s ballot. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to gather over 500 signatures at Colby,” Aronsohn said. “Well, maybe more like 350,” but every signature counts.
There is still a debate as to whether students who attend colleges and universities out of state should be allowed to vote in that state, and the current governor of Maine, Paul LePage, is among those publically opposed to out-of-state students to participating in in-state elections, but even non-native students “are affected by the issues [in Maine] more than we realize,” Aronsohn said.
Aronsohn does not doubt that Equality Maine will gather enough signatures to solidify a spot for same-sex marriage on next year’s ballot. “It’s been on the ballot before…it can definitely be on the ballot again,” she said. As evidenced by Proposition One, however, the difficulty lies not in enacting the law but in ensuring that it remains in effect.
On this front, Aronsohn is also optimistic, citing a string of recent events such as Lady Gaga coming to speak at a rally in Portland last fall against the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuals in the military as increasing awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights across the state.
However, Aronsohn stresses that it is important that people do not lose interest and support for an issue just because it has not had recent coverage in the media. “All this stuff takes time,” she said, explaining that the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” has not technically been enacted yet.
Equality Maine and the Bridge have not lost sight of their initiative to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine, and they invite students and residents to join them in their fight for marriage equality—what Lady Gaga described at the gay rights rally as the “prime rib of America.”