Yalies call for gay marriage in Maine

Ben Stango ’11, Jess Belding ’13 and Laura Cremer ’13 participate in Thursday’s phone-banking session arranged by Yale for Maine Equality.
Ben Stango ’11, Jess Belding ’13 and Laura Cremer ’13 participate in Thursday’s phone-banking session arranged by Yale for Maine Equality. Photo by Sam Greenberg.

Nearly one year after gay marriage became legal in Connecticut, Yale students are hoping to sway Maine voters to support the state’s recent legalization of gay marriage.

Yale for Maine Equality brought 29 Yale students to the Yale Women’s Center Thursday to petition Maine voters by phone. The group was formed last month specifically to lobby against Question 1, a ballot initiative that, if passed, would veto the law passed in May that allowed for same-sex marriage in Maine. Callers Thursday encouraged Maine voters to cast early ballots against the referendum.

Yale for Maine Equality utilized the phone-banking system set up by Maine’s statewide “No on 1/Protect Maine Equality” campaign. Their current goal is to encourage people to vote against the bill early, so that as the Nov. 3 election draws closer, the campaign can focus its efforts on those people they know have not yet voted, explained Mark Sullivan, the communications director for No on 1.

In May, Maine Governor John Baldacci signed a bill legalizing gay marriage, which has not yet gone into effect. Opponents of the law quickly collected the 55,000 signatures required to put Question 1 on the Nov. 3 ballot. A recent poll conducted by Pan Atlantic SMS Group put the pro-gay marriage side ahead by nine percentage points. But Yale for Maine Equality co-organizer Amalia Skilton ’13 said this margin is too close for comfort.

Beyond ensuring that gay marriage is legal in Maine, Yale for Maine Equality co-organizers Skilton and Kate Kraft ’10 discussed a broader vision for their organization.

“The [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender] Co-op has not done a whole lot with activism and wants to get more involved in that,” Skilton said.

She said she sees potential for her organization to evolve into a permanent activist group dedicated to marriage equality all across the country. Kraft also said this could help to get Yale students more involved in LGBT issues beyond the Yale campus.

Sullivan said college students have played a vital role in the campaign, bringing high levels of passion and energy to their work. No on 1 currently has organizers at all major Maine college campuses.

Scott Fish, the communications director for Stand for Marriage Maine, which supports Question 1, admitted that his opposition has an advantage when it comes to support from college students. But he said his campaign has also been contacted by students wishing to set up a presence on campuses.

There have been no organized efforts to support Question 1 at Yale. Though many phone-bankers connected this with Yale’s reputation as the “Gay Ivy,” Skilton said she received some “hostile” responses to the e-mail advertising the phone bank.

Other groups of Yale students have already organized smaller phone banks opposing Question 1, focused on polling voters to see how much support Question 1 has, Skilton said. Skilton and Kraft also discussed the possibility of holding more phone-banking sessions before the election and having a group trip up to Maine the weekend before the vote closes.

Students at the phone bank Thursday stressed the importance of winning in Maine. Kraft mentioned that gay marriage supporters have suffered many losses across the nation recently, and Maine is an important election in which they have a good chance of winning, she said.

“Winning this issue will generate momentum for the progressive movement nationwide,” Fish ceded.

Yale for Maine Equality collaborated on the phone bank with the LGBT Coop, Jews for Justice and the Yale chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.


  • Yale 08

    I wish I lived in Maine so I could vote against this nonsense.

  • Richard in SoCal

    Me Too!!!!

  • Joe C

    Well If I get a call from a Yale student, I am going to give him/her a piece of my mind. Maybe I’ll even do some convincing. Honestly, I expect more from colleges across the nation – we think we’ve got it all figured out with sexuality, that we’re breaking down barriers and ending decades of discrimination. HOGWASH. Besides money, sex is the most important thing to human kind. If the influx in homosexuality isn’t related to modern sexual confusion, then I strongly believe these rights would have been demanded centuries and centuries before in all countries everywhere – regardless of religious beliefs. I think as a society we need to learn more about homosexuality/same sex attraction before we start marrying couples. And there’s nothing bigoted about that. Such a drastic change in values deserves a more thorough investigation, and we shouldn’t be so full of ourselves that we’re making the biggest progress in civil rights since the 1960’s – because it truly is a different situation.

  • Yale 2008

    When will the government of Maine stop DISCRIMINATING against blind people?

    Why can’t blind people get drivers licenses?!

    This is such terrible discrimination!

    Blind people are BORN that way! It’s NATURAL!

    Stop hating blind people, Maine!

    -JW Smith
    Yale Students for Maine Blind Equality

  • JR

    Good luck to the No on One campaign!

    (Please ignore the usual comment-thread idiocy.)

  • ag

    Seriously!!! You guys want to grant marriage rights to groups of people who are by far the most promiscuous in the world? Let marriage continue the way God intended…between a man and a woman! What will this lead to? Marriage between humans and fish, humans and plants, humans and ghosts, etc.?

  • Mainiac

    Yale students should stay the hell out of Maine. We don’t want ‘em!

  • @ Joe C

    “then I strongly believe these rights would have been demanded centuries and centuries before in all countries everywhere – regardless of religious beliefs.”

    FYI: The self-identity as “oppressed” isn’t something that happens overnight. On that note: feminism didn’t begin as a movement (in our understanding) until the last 19th century. Are you going to suggest that “strong women” are a confused group too now?

  • Alum

    Haha…humans and ghosts. Maybe if Casper were a *really* friendly ghost.

  • obviouslyanidiot

    all of you people against gay marriage have got to be the most idiotic humans the planet has seen in modern history. i guess they have lowered the standards of admission to yale. it seems like every one that posts on here has no actual intelligence.

  • Go Maine!

    Funtown USA is a great theme park.

  • Bangorian Abroad

    I’ve lived in Maine all my life, and I’ll be voting by absentee ballot against Question One. It warms my heart to see concerned citizens at Yale joining the efforts of the people of Maine to defend equality. Thank you!

  • Marc

    Go Yale!! Equality for all. People who are discrimnated against for being gay can no longer be tolerated. Freedom to love and marry for gays should be celebrated.

  • Michael G.

    Hey Sammy,
    I enjoyed reading your article. Keep up the good work.

  • Unapologetically Gay

    I am gay. I love sex but I am monogamous. I go to church, believe in God, pay my tax. I know I have been born too soon but I will live my life the way I know best. And people who choose to hate can say what they want in their kitchen, but I will not tolerate it in my presence.

  • Recent Alum

    Yale 2008: Hilarious.

  • Yale 2008

    Thanks Recent Alum, I’ll be here all week.

  • Hey Yale 2008

    Hey kid. Do you go to Yale—or flip that—any elite school? Like, you know, a RESEARCH ONE University?

    Would you like to conduct a scientific experiment? Stick two gay people together in a household for a set amount of time. Observe the consequences.

    Stick a blind person behind the wheel and tell them to drive a set distance. Observe the consequences.

    I wonder how these experiments will turn out!!

  • Yale 2008

    Don’t blame me for the framing of the debate.

    If gays want to make it about “rights” and “discrimination” then they are going to have to show how some “natural” traits are less deserving of the equality they demand.

    The government has shown a willingness to discriminate based on a whole host of conditions.

    The government has rightly followed the path of genuine human flourishing in preserving the correct requisites for marriage: male + female.

    Just as the government has rightly reserved the right to operate a motor vehicle for people with 2 fully functioning eyes.

    Yes, a blind driver can cause accidents.

    But a gay couple causes a domestic “car wreck” by being fundamentally incapable of conjugal complementarity nor procreation.

  • Recent Alum

    If anything, the comparison is uncharitable toward blind people. After all, homosexuals can get married, so long as they marry someone of the opposite sex like everyone else. Same rule applies to heterosexuals, who also can get married only to people of the opposite sex.

    By contrast, blind people can’t get a driver’s license at all. They have it much worst!

  • Hey Yale 2008 2

    “The government has rightly followed the path of genuine human flourishing in preserving the correct requisites for marriage: male + female.”

    So the question becomes: How does the allowance of homosexual marriage threaten this? That is: How will ‘genuine human flourishing’ be stunted?

    (Hint: It won’t.)

    “But a gay couple causes a domestic “car wreck” by being fundamentally incapable of conjugal complementarity nor procreation.”

    ‘Conjugal complementarity’ is really a meaningless phrase. And ‘procreation’ isn’t a deterrent because both infertile individuals and unwilling parents are allowed to marry. Is merely fertility the ticket to full marriage equality?

    Well, that’s an ageist and ableist thought if I ever did see one!

  • Hieronymus

    Here is what I find interesting: We all know why a brother cannot marry his sister (“It’s for the CHILDREN!” people will scream).

    If marriage is *not* about sex and children, why, then, do those states that allow gay marriage continue to DISallow marriage between siblings (to include step-siblings)? Why cannot a man marry his step-son?

    I am very serious: Why do we continue to legally discriminate (and intellectually accept that discrimination) between *certain* unprocreative groups?

    If we accept that marriage is sub-optimal (or unnecessary and hence unsupported, that is, banned) between *certain* pairings (brother/sister, Greg/Marsha, George/George Jr.), what, then, are the criteria for marriage?

    One can describe conditions that would allow man+woman but deny others, but can you describe the reasoning that allows *some* pairs of men to marry but not others (w/o relying on “precedent,” which would clearly favor the continued and unreasoned banning of gay marriage)?

  • y09

    ‘Recent Alum': the logic of your argument is exactly the same as that of 1970s arguments against interracial marriage (hey, they’re free to marry people of the *same* race). Strike one.

  • ???

    to #23

    Um… no it isn’t. (and, btw: miscegenation laws understood that marriage is about procreation–it wasn’t so much the marriages that were banned but the offspring!)

    Interracial marriage was still between a man and a woman; there is a difference between regulating marriage and redefining it.

    Laws banning interracial marriage explicitly banned interracial marriage. Those who sought to overturn these bans were seeking formal equality: not the expansion of law to include them, but the subtraction of laws designed to exclude them. What they wanted was for race not to be mentioned in the law at all.

    By contrast, what proponents of same-sex marriage seek is a subjective, substantive equality. They want the law to say that homosexuals should get to marry the kind of people they are permanently oriented to desire. This claim might seem right and just, but you will note that the law does not currently say “only heterosexuals get to marry the kind of people they are permanently oriented to desire.” Of course this is what the law actually entails, but nobody is formally excluded in current law.

    Even to see the current law as exclusive requires a particular and modern understanding of human sexuality, whereas exclusion is the whole point of laws banning interracial marriage.

    As an analogy, consider people who are permanently oriented to desire animals sexually (not saying this is comparable to homosexuality, but current law ignores this kind of orientation in the same way that it ignores homosexuality, so the example is illustrative). The current law excludes them from marrying those they are permanently oriented to desire. That is, it excludes them in the same way that it excludes homosexuals. The reason we don’t see the law as excluding them is that we don’t imagine such people to form a natural class. We now imagine homosexuals to form a natural class, but we didn’t use to, and the laws were written in the old days. Maybe our laws need updating as we change our understanding of human sexuality, but unlike bans on interracial marriage, our current marriage laws weren’t written to exclude anybody (except where they do, like brother and sister marriages etc.)

    Lastly: the State retains a compelling interest in marital relationships; it is free to promote its preferred paradigm for its own reasons (Social Security revenue streams, one might argue). The State continues to recognize that the optimal structure is for child-rearing is a low-conflict marriage composed of the biological mother and father, i.e., every child deserves his or her parents. Yes, that goal is not always achieved (just as triple 800s on the SATs are relatively rare), but it is the best outcome nonetheless.

    Just sayin’.

  • Yale 2008

    The State continues to recognize that the optimal structure is for child-rearing is a low-conflict marriage composed of the biological mother and father, i.e., every child deserves his or her parents. Yes, that goal is not always achieved (just as triple 800s on the SATs are relatively rare), but it is the best outcome nonetheless.

    I could not agree more! Well said.

    Every child has a right to his or her parents.

  • Goldie ’08

    Every child has a right to his or her parents. Which is why I am in favor of allowing gay marriage and banning divorce. Seriously.

    Well not quite seriously but I think more barriers to divorce can and should be in place

  • Hieronymus

    Goldie: I agree completely.

    Higher barriers (standards/prereqs) to both marriage AND divorce. Yes, yes; please do.

  • Yale 2008


    1- Yes, please more barriers to divorce, like NO DIVORCE, only annulments which are a legal judgment that the necessary conditions for marriage were never met.

    2- Gay couples can NEVER be parents, so I don’t know what you’re getting at…

  • JimmyInLosAngeles

    Does anyone else remember that it was only bigotry that caused the government to get involved in marriage in the first place? It was to prevent interracial marriages. Until that point, if you wanted to get married, you just went to someone official (in your church or town, I guess) and called it marriage. The government didn’t care. It was people who didn’t want the races to mix that wanted the government to make it something “official” and “regulate” it.

  • Hieronymus

    Jimmy: not quite right. Lots of the current movement, as far as I can tell, is about “entitlement.” Take Social Security for example: the wife class was allowed to claim the dead hubby class’s SS stream in general recognition of the wife class’s sacrifice (i.e., unpaid labor) in bringing up the next generation of Americans.

    The gay spouse class often wants (feels entitled to), at least in this topic, “mo’ money.” That is, survivor gay spouse will claim dead gay spouse’s SS income stream IF it is higher, not in recognition (at the class level, not the individual) of income foregone in pursuit of State goals (‘cuz gays, as a class, do not produce the next generation of taxpayers).

    The gubmint generally only gets involved where money is concerned (either in its own interests or where claimants press a case). Oh, and by the way, common law marriage is still in effect in many states, so it is not nor has ever been fully “regulated” as you claim.

    With regard to gay marriage: is it “bigotry” to dismiss the pointless? Am I a “bigot” because I agree with the dissolution of the rare, mistaken brother/sister marriage?

    (My favorite quote–and analogous here: “A judge was forced to rule to annul the union, saying that such a thing was never valid to begin with, even if the couple was unaware…”)

    BTW: Brother/Sister marriage was accepted under Pharaohic law (at least for Pharaoh…); why not here in the U.S.? Why, in some states, can a man marry ONE man but not TWO? Isn’t *THAT* bigotry?

    So, Jimmy: do you oppose brother/sister marriage? What if bother/sister are infertile, or over age 70? Do you support their marriage? If so, why so? If not, are you bigoted?

    Gays do not want the “marriage” per se, they want (IMO) ACCEPTANCE and RECOGNITION as “normal” (which, statistically speaking, is simply untrue); if it were about the “marriage,” then civil unions and equivalent would suffice. Bestowing the imprimatur of “marriage” entails a whole host of legalisms (e.g., criticism becomes “hate speech”)–and, for some (but not all), a furtherance of some ultimate goal, i.e., the dissolution of marriage altogether (e.g., certain radical feminists using earnest gays as tools towards an end).

  • wow, Hieronymus

    It’s remarkable what excuses people come up with to hate gays and prop up the discriminatory laws that prevent them from receiving equal tax treatment. I’ll direct my wrath at you, commenter #30 “Hieronymous,” since you have posted some of the most ridiculous statements.

    I shouldn’t have to explain why your comparison to incest is among the most idiotic things I’ve ever heard, but seeing as you are lacking the intelligence to figure it out for yourself, I’ll explain. Incest is often the product of abuse, pedophilia, or serious and unhealthy psychological problems. This applies to both heterosexual incest and homosexual incest, though heterosexual incest is WAY more common. The state has an interest in protecting all of its citizens, and banning incest is certainly a way to prevent major harm from being done to a citizen. I don’t think you could find too many individuals in the world who would tell you that incest should be legal. Polygamy has been banned for similar reasons. Society must create laws to protect the weak from falling victim to manipulative individuals.

    Homosexuality is not a choice: it occurs it nature in all parts of the animal kingdom and therefore is “natural” by definition. If you don’t believe it occurs in nature, you either haven’t done your research or would be more intelligent after a lobotomy. Hieronymous, you point to the word “normal” yet something not being the “norm” does not make it immoral or something that the state has a legitimate interest in banning. Homosexuality is statistically quite normal – it will occur in a regular percent of the population, and therefore homosexuality is absolutely “normal” in that it is “normal” for a certain percent of the population to be homosexual. I’m straight, and that’s just the lot I drew in the genetic draw. It’s much the same way that you seem to have drawn the short end of the stick when it comes to empathy and higher-order reasoning. For instance, the kind of reasoning that dictates that given that homosexuality is not an objective negative thing, and given that our country was founded on principles of equal rights for all citizens, we should grant homosexual citizens the same rights as heterosexual citizens. That includes equal protection under the tax code and in the legal system. Not using the word “marriage,” by the way, simply creates a two-class system that is prejudiced against gays.

    Finally, you say you are against “pointless” marriages. Have you ever heard of marriage being about love? I thought that marriage being just to make babies was kind of a Medieval or Stone Age thing, but maybe you’re still stuck in that era.

    To summarize, if you want to argue against gay marriage, at least use some semblance of rational thought in doing so. Your incoherent, rambling, and non sequitur-laden comment made everyone who read it a little bit dumber.

  • Kat

    Anyone who says homosexuals can never have children are completely wrong.

    There’s adoption, artificial insemination, surrogate mothers, and biological procreation from previous straight relationships by bisexuals and closeted homosexuals.

    Gay marriage would in no way stop reproduction.

    In fact, there are several reasons to allow gay marriage: equal protection, due process (marriage is a legal procedure), privacy, full parental rights and benefits to children, no discrimintation in employment or income tax returns, no discrimination in hospital visitation or inheretance, emotional well-being and acceptance from society, and my personal favorite SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.

    Not to mention, the federal statute DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) violates the Constitution’s Contract Clause by allowing states with bans to ignore legal gay marriages from other states.

    Comparing homosexuality to incest or a physical handicap reveals just how bigoted people are in this country. If your church tells you it’s wrong, keep your opinion to yourself (I repeat: SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE). I want my LGBT friends and fellow citizens to have the same right to love and family that I do.

    And yes, it is the same as a ban on interrracial marriage. The majority is trying to stomp on minority rights when the relationship of a pair of consenting adults is none of their concern.