Students rally to vote "no" on one
The fight for marriage equality has made its way to the Hill this fall as the Colby Democrats, the Bridge--the College's gay-straight alliance--and the League of Progressive Voters have been working closely with the statewide grassroots campaign No On One/Protect Maine Equality.
Voting "no" on the first of the referendum questions on the November ballot is voting to preserve the law declaring marriage for all couples--no matter their sexual orientation--legal. The law passed through the state senate and was signed by the governor last spring.
Through phone banking, canvassing, collecting signatures and raising awareness of what the first proposition, if passed, would do to marriage equality, student volunteers have worked to ensure that voters will go to the polls this November and let their voices be heard.
With Karl Bach, the No On One campus coordinator, the three groups have organized several large rallies. October 4, 18 and November 1 mark the days when "the Colby Democrats, the Bridge and the League will be combining forces and knocking on doors in Waterville to ID voters...The three organizations are also working together to register voters in Pulver and push for early voting, especially during the League's early voting event Vote Louder [on October 23]," president of the Colby Democrats Amanda Burgess '10, said.
"For me, [marriage equality] comes down to the ability to maintain the most basic social unit in a way that is recognized not only by the communities in which we live, but also by the very government that is charged with the protection and well-being of all its free citizens," member of the Bridge Andrew Cox '10 said.
Dan Nolan '10 and Logan Hunter '11 have also pitched in for the cause. In part to fulfill a civic engagement requirement for a class, the two have worked with the No On One campaign this fall. Their efforts have largely centered on phone banks, where "we called voters who were considered to be 'on the fence' on the gay marriage debate and tried to convince them to vote no in November," Hunter said.
This has not been easy, according to Hunter and Nolan.
"I think there is a general impression that the Waterville community is pretty progressive compared to the rest of Maine, especially once you get outside of larger cities like Portland and Augusta. But after working the phone bank, there is definitely plenty of opposition and closed mindedness. If anything, it's made me more nervous for the vote; before working the bank I thought there was no way it was going to succeed, but now after calling people, and learning how strongly opposed people are, there's a very strong possibility it will get repealed," Nolan said.
He also expressed surprise and disappointment in the lack of visibility the campaign currently has on the Hill.
"The process of getting students and locals on the No On One campaign is definitely tedious and difficult work at times, but I truly believe we can keep Maine open to gay marriage if we become active on campus," Hunter said.
Bach, though, had a more positive impression of the process. "[Gathering voter support has] gone really well--folks are very receptive to this issue. They're looking for something concrete to do...we're taking action and we're getting folks involved," he said.
Last spring, there was activism a-plenty as groups like the Democrats worked to gather support for the marriage equality bill to be passed.
Burgess recalled her favorite moment last spring as "the night before the bill went to vote in the Maine State Senate. We called thousands of households and convinced 83 Winslow residents to call our state senator who was still waffling on her position on the bill...She voted in favor of the bill and we couldn't help but feel pretty good about that."