October 28, 2010

Gay-marriage mailers put to rest in House District 85 race

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN -- A leader in the successful drive to end gay marriage in Maine last year says voters in Skowhegan probably won't receive a second wave of direct mailings aimed at state House District 85 incumbent Jeffrey McCabe.

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Brian Hale

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Jeff McCabe

But they can expect telephone calls as Election Day approaches on Tuesday.

Bob Emrich, who runs Emmanuel Bible Baptist Church in Plymouth, said McCabe's support of legislation in 2009 to legalize same-sex marriage makes him an obvious target for groups that disagree with him.

Emrich said the National Organization for Marriage organized a direct mailing to House 85 constituents in Skowhegan at the end of September. He said he is affiliated with Stand for Marriage Maine and worked with the National Organization for Marriage on the mailers to Skowhegan voters. He also worked on the repeal effort last year.

McCabe, a Democrat, is challenged by Brian Hale, a Republican, and pastor of the Skowhegan Church of the Nazarene, who also worked on the repeal campaign last year.

"Unlike EqualityMaine, we chose to be very open about what was going on there, and the mailer was to point out the difference between the candidates about the issue of marriage," Emrich said. "There's a very clear difference between the two; one of them believes that marriage is a union of a man and a woman -- that would be Brian Hale. And obviously Jeffrey McCabe believes marriage should be redefined."

Emrich said EqualityMaine is "stacking the deck" to bring the issue of same-sex marriage back to Maine voters, but is hiding behind issues such as education to gain support. He said EqualityMaine has spent more than $200,000 in support of candidates in this year's election.

EqualityMaine has worked to secure full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Maine since 1984, according to its website. Betsy Smith, executive director of EqualityMaine, this past summer accused the National Organization for Marriage of using "fear mongering" tactics to win the vote last November.

Smith on Wednesday said EqualityMaine is not hiding behind anything. She said the $200,000 figure cited by Emrich is correct.

"We do not have a hidden agenda; we are very open and up front about what we stand for, and we stand for full equality for all Maine families, including gay and lesbian families," she said. "We have been very clear that equality does not end with the loss of a campaign."

Smith said her group will continue to fight for same-sex marriage in Maine and will openly support candidates who share that view on marriage. She said fliers such as the ones about McCabe are from out of state and cost "a lot of money to tell Mainers how to vote. That to me is unacceptable."

Emrich said there are 16 or 17 other races in Maine this year that have been targeted with fliers similar to the McCabe ones. Stand for Marriage Maine has not spent any money on this year's election, while the National Organization for Marriage has spent about $10,000 on the fliers statewide, Emrich said.

Emrich said the marriage question covers the spectrum of societal issues.

"It's best for society, whether you look at it from a religious point of view, a secular point of view, whether you look at it economically or any other way," he said. "A stable family is always better for a stable economy.

Brian Hale said he supports traditional marriage, meaning a union between a man and a woman, but said his campaign did not send the fliers targeting McCabe.

The two-sided flier features a smiling family of four with a "Welcome to Maine, the way life should be" placard and a single photograph of Hale. On the flip side of the flier is a photograph of McCabe, with his e-mail address and two men in bow ties, arm-in-arm, appearing atop a wedding cake.

(Continued on page 2)

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