Greta Christina sends out the rallying cry:
momentum is huge in politics. A win makes the next campaign on the issue seem less radical and less scary; not just for voters, but for politicians and public figures, who are way more likely to fight for a cause if it looks like it already has some traction. A win energizes and inspires the winners; a loss tends to demoralize the losers, and forces them to retrench. Plus, for better or worse, a lot of people don’t like to feel like they’re on the losing side. They’re more likely to support a candidate or a cause when it looks like it can win, and is winning. With every state that legalizes same-sex marriage, the next one is way more likely to do it too. Same-sex marriage is going to look more normal, more like no big deal… and it’s going to look inevitable.The right isn’t wrong about this one. This is ground zero. We need to get every bit as involved in No on 1 as we did in No on 8. If we lose this one, we will, in fact, have lost a tremendous amount of momentum. But if we win, we will have loaded a huge heap of coal into that freight train’s engine. It will make the fight for same-sex marriage in every other state — in New York, in New Jersey, in California in 2010 or 2012, and eventually in Oregon and Minnesota and Alabama — much, much easier, and much more winnable.
The other reason Maine is so important is precedent. Same-sex marriage can now be legally performed in five U.S. states, six if you count Maine — but in every one of those states, it was legalized by either the legislature or the courts. In the U.S., same-sex marriage has never, ever won at the ballot box. Ever. The right has always been able to use smears and scare tactics and even flat-out lies to keep voters from supporting same-sex marriage… tactics that are (marginally) less effective on judges and legislators than they are on voters.
Talk about it. We have to get this on the national radar now. If you’re a blogger, blog about it. If you’re a journalist, cover it. If you’re a progressive activist, get it on the radar of progressive organizations and allies — even ones that aren’t specifically focused on LGBT issues. And if you’re a regular citizen, talk about it. Tweet it, Facebook it, shoot it to your email list, gas on about it at parties, bring it up with your family and friends. Explain about the momentum, and the precedent, and the winnability. Let other people know, not just that the fight is happening, but why it’s such a big freakin’ deal.And do it now. Don’t wait until right before the election. We don’t want to make the mistake we made with Prop 8 (well, one of the mistakes): we don’t want to spend the entire campaign playing defense. We need to help lay the groundwork now for a pro-active campaign. And in Maine, early voting starts in early October. If we wait until November to pitch in on this fight, we’ll have waited too long. We have to get this on the national radar, now.