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Maine gay marriage supporters raise $1.2 million
By CLARKE CANFIELD
Originally printed 7/26/2012 (Issue 2030 - Between The Lines News)
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Supporters of a Maine ballot initiative to legalize same-sex marriage have raised about 25 times more money than opposition groups, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state.
The reports show that political action committees in favor of November's referendum seeking to legalize same-sex marriage have raised nearly $1.2 million. The lead PAC, Mainers United for Marriage, has raised about $1.1 million of the total.
PACs that oppose the referendum have raised less than $50,000. The latest financial reports had to be filed with the Maine Ethics Commission by midnight Tuesday.
The fundraising gap will narrow in the months ahead when the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage begins giving money to opponents of the Nov. 6 referendum asking voters if they support legalizing same-sex marriage, said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage.
NOM donated more than $2 million to gay marriage opponents in 2009, when Maine voters overturned a gay marriage law, 53-47 percent, enacted by the Legislature earlier in the year, he said.
"It's misleading to think we've outraised them 25 to 1," McTighe said. "The fact is we to have continue to outraise them by that amount because sometime in the next month or two, the National Organization for Marriage, just like they did in 2009, will write another big $2 million or $21/2 million check.
"We just need to know that this out-of-state group is going to come in and dump whatever money they need to, to influence the election here."
NOM, the leading national organization opposing same-sex marriage, hopes to contribute to the campaign, but the circumstances are far different than 2009, said Frank Schubert, its national political director, as he called on Mainers to donate to the cause.
"We have five state marriage campaigns this year, a presidential election and multiple legal challenges to marriage in the courts," Schubert said. "Our resources are stretched extremely thin. We call upon all people of faith in Maine to give of their time and treasure to preserve marriage."
Bob Emrich, a member of two Maine PACs that oppose same-sex marriage, said he expects NOM to contribute some money in the Maine campaign, depending on the availability of funds. The leading Maine-based PAC opposed to November's referendum, Protect Marriage Maine, has raised just over $42,000, according to campaign finance reports.
"But I don't expect the bulk of the money to come from them. We can't depend entirely on that one organization," he said. "As helpful as they are, they aren't going to fund the whole campaign."
McTighe expects his group to raise about $5 million for the entire campaign. So far, two-thirds of the donors come from Maine, with 84 percent of the contributions being $50 or less.
Those numbers show a broad base of support for the ballot initiative, he said.
"We see it across the board in a shift in public opinion, in the volunteer base and now in the donor base, as well," he said.
Emrich agreed that Mainers United is good at raising money, but disagreed that their contributions reflect a shifting of attitude among Mainers about gay marriage. Nearly half of Mainers United's contributions have come from out of state, he said.
"When people see this big disparity between the two sides, I'm hoping that will motivate people on our side to the seriousness and the need to get involved financially," he said.
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