Three Excellent Stories: Maine — Investigation of NOM and Other Groups, AP Story – Mormon Church in Hot Water & Mike Tidmus on San Diego Kiss-In at Manchester Grand Hyatt?
BY MATT WICKENHEISER
Maine Sunday Telegram
Maine’s same-sex marriage debate increasingly seems to be a coast-to-coast affair.
Earlier this summer, the campaign seeking to repeal Maine’s new same-sex marriage law said it had retained Schubert Flint Public Affairs, the high-power firm that ran the successful effort to ban gay marriage in California.
Now it appears Sacramento, Calif.-based Schubert Flint may face some familiar foes.
This past week, Equality California, the San Francisco-based group that fought to maintain gay marriage in that state, said it planned to support similar efforts in Maine. During a conference call in which Equality California officials talked about trying to reinstate gay marriage there in 2010, they also pushed support for their Maine counterparts.
The attention, and several press releases from both supporters and opponents of gay marriage, demonstrate a growing focus on the Maine debate and the importance it will have on a national level this year.
Both sides – supporters and opponents of gay marriage in Maine — have attracted dollars and expertise “from away.”
“Equality is our mission, and we support our brothers and sisters throughout the country,” Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors said in a Friday interview. “Each time there are more people who are able to have the dignity and respect and rights that come with marriage, the better it is for everyone, and the better it is to restore marriage rights in California.”
Kors said his group would contribute $25,000 to the “No on 1” campaign in Maine. Kors also said the group would encourage supporters to make matching contributions and volunteer time to help the campaign in Maine. And Equality California is evaluating what sort of staff assistance it could send to the East Coast, Kors said.
Also on Friday, the Washington Blade, a gay and lesbian publication, reported that the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign had donated $50,000 to No on 1 this past week, raising the total contribution from that group to $75,000.
The group is committed to donating at least another $50,000 to Maine, and it has field staffers working in the state, the Blade reported.
The group spearheading the people’s veto initiative, Stand for Marriage Maine, put out a release this past week, criticizing the California-based efforts.
“Stand for Marriage Maine’s opposition has constructed a glass house, claiming their campaign is being orchestrated by Mainers, not special interest groups from away,” the group said. “The Equality California announcement would seem to roll a boulder right through that glass house.”
Mark Sullivan, spokesman for No on 1, said the campaign “welcomes the support we’re getting from defenders of marriage equality.” Sullivan noted that Stand for Marriage Maine had already received more than $200,000 from out-of-state groups, according to campaign finance reports filed last month.
Sullivan said Maine organizers had not yet spoken to their California counterparts about how efforts could match up.
“We’ll be looking forward to meeting with them,” said Sullivan.
The money that Stand for Marriage Maine has received from national groups, particularly the National Organization for Marriage, was the subject of yet another critical e-mail – this one from a California group supporting same-sex marriage.
On Thursday, Californians Against Hate, based in San Diego, put out a media statement complaining that while Stand for Marriage Maine had received large sums of money from those groups, it wasn’t apparent who had donated money to those groups in the first place.
“We certainly don’t take much of it very seriously,” Marc Mutty, chairman of Stand for Marriage Maine’s executive committee, said, referring to the criticism by Californians Against Hate. “We are frustrated at the fact that it’s yet one more distraction.”
Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, sent a letter to the Maine Ethics Commission and the Attorney General’s Office, raising allegations of money laundering.
Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the commission, said his staff is interpreting the letter as a request for an investigation. They have forwarded the letter to the Stand for Marriage political action committee, he said. The staff needs to ask Karger for more specific information and charges, said Wayne.
Campaign finance laws for candidates are fairly clear, said Wayne. Any money earmarked for a candidate from one party through an intermediary must be identified back to the source, he said. The laws for PAC reporting aren’t as clear, said Wayne.
Kate Simmons, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, said the office would aid the Ethics Commission in its work.
“We appreciate Wayne’s responsibilities to the people of Maine, and we will cooperate with them to the extent we can,” said Mutty. “We see all these accusations launched against us as very non-specific, just an attempt to further blur the issues.” Mike Tidmus Blog — Coverage of San Diego Kiss-In
Fred Karger in San Diego Saturday asking support for the Manchester Hotels Global Boycott and Mega Donor Terry Caster’s A-1 Self Storage Boycott. Caster gave $693,000 to Pass Proposition 8!!!
AP Story by Jennifer Dobner
Mormon church becomes target in renewed gay marriage fight
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Â— The Mormon church’s vigorous, well-heeled support for Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California last year, has turned the Utah-based faith into a lightning rod for gay rights activism, including a nationwide “kiss-in” Saturday.
The event comes after gay couples here and in San Antonio and El Paso, Texas, were arrested, cited for trespassing or harassed by police for publicly kissing. In Utah, the July 9 trespassing incident occurred after a couple were observed by security guards on a downtown park-like plaza owned by the 13 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The 31-year-old, who was raised Mormon but is not active in the church, said the church shouldn’t be involved in Prop. 8.
Twenty-two people, many of them strangers to one another, gathered under the scorching sun on Washington’s National Mall to participate in the national smooch. They were gay and straight, couples and singles of all ages, with placards that read “Equal Opportunity Kisser” and “A Kiss is a Not a Crime.”
About 50 people, mostly gay and lesbian couples, gathered at Piedmont Park in downtown Atlanta and kissed for about five minutes.
Church insiders say Prop. 8 has bred dissent among members and left families divided. Some members have quit or stopped attending services, while others have appealed to leadership to stay out of the same-sex marriage fight.
Mormonism teaches that homosexual sex is considered a sin, but gays are welcome in church and can maintain church callings and membership if they remain celibate.
The St. George woman’s family, which includes two gay children, will play a central role in a documentary film, “8: The Mormon Proposition” currently in production. Stay’s son, Tyler Barrick, married his boyfriend in San Francisco on June 17, 2008, the first day gay marriage was legal in California.
To see the church characterized, because of its own actions, as one in a group of anti-gay religions and as a religion that forces members to choose faith over family is “a tragedy of generational proportion,” she said. “And it seems to me, that it was entirely unnecessary.”
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.