Friday, May 24, 2013
By Steve Mistler email@example.com
Supporters of allowing same-sex couples to marry in Maine continue to raise money at an impressive clip, pulling in more than $1.1 million so far.
The total reflects donations to several political action committees supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage that funneled the money to Mainers United for Marriage, the flagship group, which reported the donations. Contributions totaled $598,000 over the reporting period, May 30 to July 17. The totals were released Wednesday.
Whether the state should legalize same-sex marriage will be decided in a November state referendum.
Opponents are still lagging in fundraising, with several PACs totaling $42,311 so far, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. The lead opposition PAC, Protect Marriage Maine, brought in $30,871 over the last reporting period.
Protect Marriage Maine also has spent $10,000 to hire Mission: Public Affairs LLC in Sacramento, Calif. Mission: Public Affairs has a minimal Web presence, but records of the California secretary of state show that the firm is owned by Frank Schubert, a political consultant who has run campaigns to oppose same-sex marriage, including the 2009 effort that overturned Maine's legislatively enacted same-sex marriage law.
The latest reporting period shows that the PAC for the National Organization for Marriage, the national group opposing same-sex marriage, is still largely inactive, raising just $10,324 so far.
However, NOM continues to provide organizational support to Protect Marriage Maine. NOM has donated a national mailing list that can be used to solicit donations.
NOM spent more than $1.4 million during Maine's 2009 referendum.
Mainers United for Marriage also has received organizational and administrative assistance from the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry, two national organizations advocating for same-sex marriage. Matthew McTighe, the executive director for Mainers United for Marriage, said that strong fundraising activity over the last reporting period shows Mainers are increasingly supportive of allowing same-sex couples to marry.
"The grassroots support for the campaign is incredible and mirrors the positive conversations we're having as volunteers talk to their friends and neighbors all over Maine," McTighe said in a press statement. The group said 7,261 donors, about two-thirds of them from Maine, have contributed to the campaign.
Most of the money is from contributions of $50 or less, the group said.
The effort to legalize same-sex marriage also is receiving national support. The Freedom to Marry Maine PAC has contributed $285,065 so far, including $225,200 over the last reporting period. The PAC received a $150,000 donation from billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer on July 15.
Singer has contributed about $10 million to legalize same-sex marriage in other states. He also has given $1 million to start the American Unity PAC, a super-PAC designed to encourage Republican lawmakers to support same-sex marriage.
Mainers will decide at the ballot box in November whether to approve the same-sex marriage law. A "yes" vote will allow gay couples to obtain marriage licenses, while a "no" vote will keep current law.