As the November elections approach, some Mainers are hopeful for the passage of Question 1 to support marriage equality throughout the state. On Election Day, voters will decide whether gay marriage will be legal in Maine. Voting “yes” on Question 1 will overturn the current ban on same-sex marriage.
As the days until the election wind down, it’s crunch time for Leslie Beliveau, the campus organizer for the Mainers United for Marriage campaign. She has been working around the clock to get students involved in the campaign. While she mainly works on the University of Maine campus here in Orono, she also works with the University of Maine at Machias as well.
On Monday and Tuesday nights, you can find Beliveau in the Multi-Purpose room in the Memorial Union working with volunteers who are phoning Mainers across the state to spread the message to vote “yes” on 1. Beliveau said she has been happy with the turnout and reports she has around 25 consistent, returning volunteers. She also has a volunteer recruitment team to help increase the number of volunteers as much as possible.
Voter registration drives will be held every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Memorial Union until the elections, allowing most students the chance to register to vote. Out-of-state students have the right to register in the state in which they are enrolled in school. Beliveau is encouraging our out-of-state students to vote here: “We need all the votes we can get.”
If registering on a Wednesday doesn’t work for you, same day registration is also available. If you live on campus or in Orono, you can vote in UMaine’s Multi-Purpose room on the lower level of the Memorial Union.
Prior to this year’s elections, Beliveau said she had been a silent supporter. Although she supported same-sex marriage for her state, she admits she was not involved in the campaign. Back in 2009 a voter repeal on same-sex marriage was voted down in a close race, 53 percent to 47 percent. Former Governor John Baldacci signed a bill into law that would allow same-sex marriage in Maine. After signing the bill, the law would have taken effect 90 days after legislation adjourned it. However, the day after Baldacci signed the bill, a campaign was started to repeal the bill through voter referendum.
Although polls reported the vote would be in favor of same-sex marriage, there was a poor voter turnout. Less than 50 percent of the student body at UMaine voted in 2009. “We need a higher turnout,” Beliveau said. This time around, Beliveau has stepped up into a leadership role to ensure equality in Maine. “I’ve put way too much of my heart and soul into this,” Beliveau said. “I think about all the families who will be able to live a little bit easier lives,” if the vote passes.
“I’m asking students to join the team,” Beliveau said passionately about the campaign. She urges students to join the movement and take action as a supporter. “Thirty-six days is not a lot of time,” she said of the days nearing the election.
Beliveau admitted she is not into politics by any means, yet “in a way it’s the perfect job,” she said. Beliveau graduated from UMaine last year with a degree in psychology and minor in peace and reconciliation studies. She assures that students don’t have to know about politics to get involved.
When asked what makes this issue so important, Beliveau paused for a minute, as she thought about everything that has made this campaign relevant to her life. She replied by saying she hopes to live in a “world where you don’t have to be ashamed of who you are […] and for people to be able to celebrate love.”
“It’s hard for me to run into the opposition and [have them] tell me I’m wrong,” Beliveau said. “It’s about love, family and commitment.” Beliveau urges students to vote “yes” on Question 1 Nov. 6 to allow every Mainer across the state to have equal marriage rights.