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Lawmakers in Maine legalized same-sex marriage back in May. And next month voters will have the chance to uphold or repeal that law. The polls show a tight race. Maine Public Radio's Susan Sharon reports on how the campaign is playing out.
SUSAN SHARON: Same-sex marriage opponents are warning Maine voters in television and radio ads that failure to repeal the state's new same-sex marriage law this November will have consequences for their kids at school.
In this ad, similar to one used in California, a Massachusetts couple tells what happened to their son after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage.
(Soundbite of advertisement)
Unidentified Woman: Our son came home and told us the school taught him that boys can marry other boys. He's in second grade.
SHARON: At issue for the couple and other same-sex marriage opponents is a fairy tale called King and King that tells the story of a prince who falls in love with another prince and marries him.
Ms. JANET MILLS (Attorney General, Maine): Our answer, frankly is no. There is no impact on the curriculum of Maine's public schools.
SHARON: This week, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said she could find no connection between Maine's same-sex marriage law and any requirement for public schools to teach kids about it. A recent poll of 401 likely Maine voters found that 61 percent of respondents did not believe same-sex marriage would be taught in Maine's schools. The poll also shows that there are not many voters on the fence.
Mark Brewer is a political science professor from the University of Maine.
Professor MARK BREWER (University of Maine): Most people have a set opinion on this. So this campaign isn't really, you know, to win hearts and minds or to shape opinion.
SHARON: Instead, Brewer says the ads are designed to rally opponents of same-sex marriage. While the latest poll gives an edge to same-sex marriage supporters, campaign organizers from both camps are expecting a close race. And that's why Stand for Marriage Maine chair Marc Mutty sent out an urgent email blast to supporters this week. In it he said the effort to repeal Maine's same-sex marriage law was in jeopardy unless the campaign received a major cash infusion.
Mr. MARC MUTTY (Stand for Marriage Maine): We're not meeting our budget. We certainly had to cut back on our presence on television and radio, and we had planned a bus tour where we would go from city to city. We had to cancel that because that's an expensive proposition which we just can't afford at this point.
SHARON: Campaign finance reports show same-sex marriage opponents trailing supporters by $1.6 million. Opponents have received most of their money from three organizations: the National Organization for Marriage, which is under scrutiny by the Maine Ethics Commission for the source of its donations; the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland; and Focus on the Family. Supporters, meanwhile, have raised $2.7 million and boast of having 12,000 individual donors — about half from out of state.
Jesse Connolly is Protect Maine Equality's campaign manager.
Mr. JESSE CONNOLLY (Protect Maine Equality): It's really astounding. People have dug deep. Some have given $5, others have given 500. But I think it really shows the level of support that we have from people both here in Maine and across the country.
SHARON: Connolly says he isn't taking anything for granted. And U. Maine Professor Mark Brewer says he shouldn't. Brewer says same-sex marriage opponents may be behind in fundraising, but he says a lot of that money can be made up in the next two weeks. In the end, he says it will all come down to which side does a better job galvanizing supporters and getting them to the polls on Election Day.
For NPR News, I'm Susan Sharon in Lewiston, Maine.
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