Supporters of Maine’s same-sex marriage law have raised more than double the amount of money than their opponents, campaign finance reports released Tuesday showed.
No on 1, which favors keeping a law allowing same-sex couples to be wed, has raised $2,699,683.33 this year and $2,556,393.33 last quarter. Stand for Marriage Maine, a group advocating the repeal of the same-sex marriage law, raised $1,137,870.12 and $794,180.62.
If passed, Question 1 would repeal L.D. 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom and remove Maine’s legal status for same-sex marriage. In May, John Baldacci became the first governor in the United States to sign a law allowing same-sex marriage; other states had allowed same-sex marriage through judicial rulings.
A press release by Stand for Marriage Maine on Tuesday decried No on 1’s fundraising.
“Our opponents, while claiming to be the home-grown, locally supported campaign, have amassed from virtually every state in the nation a campaign fortune of more than $2 million to destroy traditional marriage in Maine,” the release stated.
Despite Stand for Marriage Maine’s statement, 50 percent of No on 1’s contributions have come from Maine, compared to 42.75 percent of Stand for Marriage Maine’s contributions. No on 1 has raised nearly as much from in-state contributions as Stand for Marriage Maine has nationally.
In a phone interview, Scott Fish, communications director for the Yes on 1 campaign, said the issue was not whether No on 1 received out-of-state contributions, or even how much, but rather that No on 1 had painted itself as a local organization.
“We’ve never attacked them from getting money from out of state,” Fish said. “It is they who started attacking us for getting money from out of state, and they were portraying themselves since the beginning of the campaign as a pure, strictly Maine grassroots campaign.”
“We’ve been pointing out since the beginning that both sides have received money from out of state and that both sides were likely to continue doing that,” Fish said. “The No on 1 side has been the hypocrites in that, not us.”
“We’re very pleased with the level of support we’ve received from people across the state of Maine,” said Mark Sullivan, spokesperson for No on 1. “We think it’s a demonstration that there’s a very strong level of support out there for marriage equality.”
“We greatly appreciate the national support we’ve gotten from around the country,” Sullivan said, but added, “I think the real story in our campaign is the level of support we’ve gotten from Maine people — the outpouring from thousands and thousands of Maine individuals.”
Fish said No on 1’s fundraising success stems from a number of special interest groups.
“They have a lot of special interests interested in gay marriage prevailing in Maine. It’s that simple,” Fish said.
ActBlue.com, a Web site that bills itself as “the online clearinghouse for Democratic action,” says it has raised more than $1.1 million for the No on 1 campaign as of Oct. 17, a figure that takes into account money donated after the filing period ended.
Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based lobby group for GLBT rights, donated $120,000 to No on 1, and Equality Maine donated $96,250.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a Princeton, N.J.-based organization, has donated $500,000 to Stand for Marriage Maine, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has donated $345,070.85. Marc Mutty, Stand for Marriage Maine’s campaign chair, is on a leave of absence from the diocese to manage the campaign.
The Maine Ethics commission has said it will investigate a complaint against NOM filed by Californians Against Hate, alleging NOM is skirting campaign finance laws by not reporting the names of its donors.
Much of the money donated by the diocese came from other churches, such as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which gave $50,000, according to the Portland diocese’s campaign finance report. More than $41,000 came from a second collection taken during church service.
Fish acknowledged the Yes on 1 campaign has been supported by special interests, but defended the contributions.
“The difference is that one special interest is trying to protect traditional marriage and the other special interest is trying to destroy it,” Fish said.
Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based religious organization, donated $81,000, and the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, donated $50,100, both to Yes on 1.
Donald Sussman, a Portland financier, is No on 1’s largest contributor, having given $225,000. Sussman has a history of large donations: In 2002 he gave $300,000 to a joint Democratic fundraising committee and another $303,700 to the Fund for Maine’s Future, according to the Morning Sentinel.
Other large contributors to No on 1 include Esmond Harmsworth of Boston and Paul Singer, an investor from New York City, with $100,000 each.
Stand for Marriage Maine’s press release also painted Question 1 as too close to call based on fundraising alone.
“We have been outspent approximately $2.6 million to $1.1 million, yet the fate of Question 1 is too close to call. That goes to show that even with millions of dollars pouring in from well-heeled political elite, gay activists in Hollywood, New York, Massachusetts, or the democratic political machine Act Blue, our messages of truthful consequences of erasing the definition of traditional marriage is resonating with Mainers,” the release stated.
A poll released Wednesday by Pan Atlantic SMS Group showed No on 1 with a nine-point lead. Of the 401 registered Maine voters, 51.8 percent said they would vote or were likely to vote “no” on Question 1, 42.9 percent said they would or were likely to vote “yes” and 5.2 percent were undecided.
A September poll by Research 2000 found Yes on 1 to have a two-point lead.