I'm a Prop 8 survivor. Our marriage was one of those on the line during the campaign. Like others I've seen post here, my husband and I donated more than we could reasonably afford to a campaign that should have had a reasonable clue of what was coming their way.

Somehow, like so many campaigns before them, they were clueless. It's been virtually the same playbook everytime since literally before I was born, and it's being used yet again in Maine.

There are those on this site who seem surprised at the…fervor…of a number of the folks who are asking how the No On 1/Protect Maine Equality strategy differs from past campaigns which have met defeat at the hands of the high-dollar hate machine.

I would like to remind everyone of a few things as these conversations continue.First, for the uninitiated, for a number of anti-gay campaign survivors, especially those who have survived multiple campaigns, there are studies that indicate that a significant proportion of survivors suffer what is basically post-traumatic stress disorder. And it's no wonder. When you and people like you are constantly, repeatedly, viciously vilified and demeaned at every turn — sometimes for months but often repeatedly at intervals for much longer — the prospect of a new campaign offers two possibilities.

First, a win. A win offers redemption and healing and the prospect of real progress. It promises that the endless public abuse you suffer may possibly be finite. It hints at a light at the end of a lifelong tunnel of intermittent Hell. For me, the marriage equality win in Vermont was probably the sweetest of drugs. That's what it felt like. The promise, however minimal it may be, causes many to invest emotionally in an outcome that doesn't affect one's own geographic location, but even the sheer hint of hope is a powerful attractant. Look at the Obama campaign as an example.

Or…a loss. Yet another loss. Another painful, predictable, infuriating, completely mind- and heart-shattering public repudiation of………you.

But only after you've been lured in by the hope that this time could be different, and that things will finally turn a corner, and we'll start to win, and we might begin to convalesce from this soul-wringing lifelong nightmare. And we NEED to believe that — or we don't donate time, money, and energy to the effort to finally WIN.

Keep this perspective in mind. Those of you who don't experience this, or can somehow keep it completely suppressed, I applaud your steel souls. I don't have it, and neither do many of your fellow posters.

And we survivors — especially those of us who have been on the inside of these campaigns multiple times — have an important perspective. Many of us have asked questions repeatedly through a variety of channels to get some kind of idea how this time will be different, to no avail. The one thing I haven't done is call the No On 1 office directly to ask my questions, and before we donate again, that's what I'm doing. I'll report back on what they say.

I'll be honest. I'd consider myself a fairly experienced political observer and have seen other posters vice experience far longer than mine. Our questions and suggestions have been fairly roundly dismissed or invalidated. Things I've seen work in other ballot initiative campaigns that just. plain. work…and that I've never seen in a losing pro-equality campaign…I'm told and retold that, well, we just can't or shouldn't do that.

Disagree with your fellow posters, fine. But at least acknowledge experience and support your assertion to the opposite. Suggest a better way, or an alternative. Have a conversation, a negotiation, not an invalidation.

And, for those who accuse us of starting a circular firing squad, well, the best end to the questions isn't to denounce them as a circular firing squad. It's acknowledgement of the valid experience of the questioner and either an answer, a commitment to find an answer, or contact info for someone that can provide answers.

Now, as a reminder to those among our posters who live away, that is, not in Maine, and who, like me, have their hearts in this initiative already, some things should encourage you, as they do me. These folks are showing that they've learnt a lot from past campaigns' heartbreaking mistakes.

First, No On 1/Protect Maine Equality has real Pride. They're not hiding. This time, it's the opposition that hiding, big time. No On 1 celebrates office openings, they've been out in the community already quite a lot, and have been busy working to identify supporters and lock down votes. No On 8, like the Kerry campaign, didn't have a ground game. That's why both lost. The haters have a natural ground game. It's called “church”. The Obama campaign had the best ground game in history — that we HAVE a proud ground team in a statewide pro-equality campaign encourages me. I'd like to know more about these “community conversation” — and how the first one went. All I've seen is a spotty Twitter feed. I'd love to know more. That would encourage us to chip in another C note.

Second – also on the Pride tip — have you noticed those GAY people in the commercials?! That's a lesson one could've learnt just from watching the movie MILK.

Third, there is a strong conversation going on in the press. Local newspapers are carrying a lot of commentary on the issue, and the pro forces are doing an what looks like a pretty good job of countering and exposing the bigot brigade in print. That carries some weight, especially wiht older folks, who read newspapers more than the whippersnappers.
Getting back to the ground game, I have the impression that there are people working hard in every Maine county to reach out to neighbors face-to-face to persuade the persuadable and identify supporters to get to vote early or push to the polls. If that's true and there's a fired-up ground campaign all the way to Election Day, we could win.
I also am realistic. Jesse Connolly, the man running No On 1, is experienced in this — I believe he ran the successful opposition campaign to the people's veto campaign to repeal Maine's nondiscrimination law. At the same time, if I recall, that was the third time Maine voters saw the issue on the ballot, and they rejected the nondiscrimination law twice before they approved it.

Jesse, or someone else at No On 1, has posted on Daily Kos. I think it might be beneficial for them to join Louise and post on this forum as well, and maybe share with us their enthusiasm and some stories and pictures of their efforts throughout the state so far. That would go a long way.

There are a lot of important perspectives in discussion of what's happening in Maine and Washington (which I feel I have badly neglected, but I see as equally important). Please, everyone, in the interest of civility — and this is a reminder to myself as well — acknowledge the experience and perspective of your fellow posters. Be willing to question and also to encourage and find good.

We all, I think, share the same basic goal: to WIN equality. We all can work together to get there, and we can question what's happening, find answers and information for each other, and add suggestions and encouragement in constructive ways. I'm ready to do that. I hope we all are.




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