Message-ID: <>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 14:08:32 EST
Subject: [Atheist] re: AANEWS for February 11, 1998
Precedence: bulk

subject: AANEWS for February 11, 1998

Coalition, religous groups win in Maine gay rights referendum

AANews, #391, 11 Febuary 1998

Voters in Maine have narrowly repealed the state’s law which banned discrimination against gays. Yesterday’s referendum asked voters, Do you want to reject the law passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation with respect to jobs, housing, public accommodation and credit? 51.9% voted in favor of repeal to 48.1 against—this with about 92% of precincts report in as of this morning.

It was a victory for the Christian Coalition which had led the anti-gay initiative, and its allies. The contest pitted conservative Christian groups against of a coalition of civil rights activists, business leaders and Gov. Angus King, reported a Reuters dispatch late last night. Maine was one of 11 states that had such an anti-discrimination law. The measure was enacted by lawmakers in 1993, but was vetoed by then-Governor John McKernan. The current governor appeared in television and radio promos to retain the law, though, saying that people should not lose jobs or be denied other rights on account of sexual preference.

Christian Coalition Director Randy Tate told the Washington Post that the Maine referendum was definitely a clear victory for people of faith. A Coalition statement going out this afternoon to news media called the vote a stunning upset, adding that Christian conservatives went to the polls in droves on Tuesday... to strike down a controversial gay-rights bill.

The state CC worked closely with an umbrella of church and other religious groups calling itself the Christian Civic League. Tate boasted that his group distributed 240,000 voter guides in 900 churches and ran get-out-the-vote ads on selected radio stations throughout Maine in the days prior to the election (and)... mailed 100,000 get-out-the-vote postcards directly to voters.

But one reason for the Christian victory in Maine could be the voter turnout. Independent surveys indicated that nearly 2/3 of Maine’s citizens favored gay rights and anti-discrimination measures. While those figures were dismissed by repeal proponents, the Christian groups obviously succeeded in mobilizing their constituency. Voter turnout, about 33%, was described as low in news reports and on CNN. Reuters noted, though, that the figure was larger than what officials had predicted. Anti-gay forces, though, were enthusiastic and well-disciplined, and claimed to have been outspent by their opponents by as much as 8-1.

We feel great, gushed a state Christian Coalition official. We’ll just have to see where we go from here, see what the other side does. We’re in this battle for the long haul.