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    Maine Progressives

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    EQME Kicks Off Petition Signature Drive in Statewide Blitz; Tremendous First Day Numbers Reported

    by: editor

    Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 12:00:00 PM EDT

    (NOTE: EqualityMaine has asked that people utilize the hashtag #MarryME on Twitter.)

    Earlier this year it was announced in Lewiston that coalition partners EqualityMaine, GLAD and Maine Freedom to Marry were planning to launch a signature-gathering drive aimed at putting the issue to a statewide vote. The organizers would need to collect at least 57,277 voters' signatures by January 30th to get the measure on the November 2012 ballot.

    This weekend, EqualityMaine launched their petition signature campaign at a variety of events statewide:

    The renewed effort to get gay marriage approved in Maine kicked off Saturday as petition-gatherers fanned out across the state, targeting farmers markets, parades and festivals in communities form York to Bangor.

    Equality Maine says the effort targeted a number of communities including Portland, Kennebunk, Biddeford, York, Bangor, Ellsworth and Brunswick.

    The idea was to target heavily attended festivals. Thus, signature-gatherers were at a street festival in Biddeford, an art festival in Brunswick, and the Bob Dylan concert in Bangor.

    There were also petitions for signing at the Portland Farmers Market and at the Great Falls Balloon Festival in Lewiston.

    At the invitation of EqualityMaine, I spent Saturday morning shadowing those EQME L/A volunteers. There were 3 scheduled training sessions held throughout the day, with over 2 dozen volunteers for the first shift (9:30am) alone.

    In fact, enough people showed up for that first session that the training room was standing room only out into the hallway- that spoke volumes to me regarding the passion, conviction and enthusiasm of those attended.

    After a thorough explanation of how to the signatures and Q&A session, the group left to greet the tens of thousands of people all over downtown Auburn and Lewiston- some waiting for the 11 am parade to start, others going to the festival.

    I was able to get bunches of great  pictures of the signature process (see below), as the volunteers were met with many people happy to sign the petitions.

    editor :: EQME Kicks Off Petition Signature Drive in Statewide Blitz; Tremendous First Day Numbers Reported
    A quick video clip of a pair of typical successful exchanges:

    Throughout the day, the various locations were reporting tremendous positive response statewide.  For example, EQME York County almost doubled their weekly target of 250 by hitting 400 in a day. EQME Bangor collected 385 signatures- in just 90 minutes.

    By evening, EQME was reporting on Twitter that the dozens of volunteers had collected 3,165 Maine voter signatures on Saturday alone. That number was later updated to be over 5000 signatures- a fantastic start.

    "We are everywhere," said Equality Maine spokesman Timothy Rose on Saturday. He said one volunteer at the Portland Farmers Market reported that some people were pushing others out of the way to sign the petition. "It's going a lot better than we had thought it would be," Rose said.

    By Saturday night, 5,000 signatures had been gathered, he said.

    Rose channeled Bob Dylan in his comment that he believes Mainers are coming around to the idea of gay marriage after rejecting it in 2009: "The times they are a-changing. The great thing for us is that hearts and minds are changing on marriage equality."

    EqualityMaine L/A announced this morning that they will be out again today at the Great Falls Balloon Festival from 12:30 until ???

    Via EqualityMaine, here is information on how to connect with local groups/offices:

    Oxford County

    York County/Biddeford

    Portland: 550 Forest Ave, Portland

    Lewiston/Auburn: 140 Canal St, Lewiston

    Lincoln County

    Bangor/Brewer: 46 Betton St, Brewer

    Click here to join the effort and volunteer.

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