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Thursday, November 8, 2012


There is no way to be brief here so I won't even make an attempt.

I had been preparing for election day in the same fashion I would guess Christopher Columbus did as he sailed West toward what he assumed to be the edge of the world.   I couldn't really picture the world after the polls closed and we awaited the outcome.  I couldn't picture winning and I couldn't envision losing. Clients were calling to schedule massage later in the week and I felt like responding with, "But wait that is after the election. I can't possibly do massage. Who knows what the world will look like Thursday." 

That life would go on after the vote seemed inevitable, just not really imaginable.

Election day dawned bright and cold.  A very reluctant Sandi went to the hospital, her heart wanting to be home with our family.  My friend Ashley came in with big hugs when she dropped her girls off for me to take to school.  They had each made me a picture to cheer me up. 

Before school we headed to the polls where all 5 of us attempted to crowd into a polling booth.  I showed them the ballot and did some teaching about how to vote.  I showed them question 1.  (They thought is was totally unfair that they couldn't vote and really, perhaps the world would be a friendlier place if citizens under 10 had more of a say.) I had split them up into 2 teams before we went in (one twin with each of my girls) so that each team could put a ballot in the sucker machine. 

As we approached a voting official who appeared to be about 95-years-old she grouched, "They can't do that.  You have to do that.  We can't take any chances."

My kids have slid the ballot into the sucker machine each and every year.  I take a lot of pride in teaching my kids to vote.  For them, the sucker machine is the main attraction of the whole practice.

Then another woman with a kind smile whispered to me, "It's okay Suzanne.  The kids can do it.  And by the way, thanks for Saturday."  Wink, wink.

Flash mob Saturday?

I did not know this woman.  I said to her, "Where you there?" 

She replied, "I danced and it was amazing.  Thank you so much."

So far, election day was off to a good start.

After dropping the big girls, Maya and I headed to YES on 1 to meet Ange, Anna and Beckett to do some canvassing.  We were assigned to Hampden (where we live) so we got some coffee, started doling out the snacks and hit the streets. 

How could you say no to these two?
We spent a few hours knocking on 26 doors and asking people to go vote.  The idea is to target our supporters to get them to polls.  I had a conversation with one woman who said her only motivation for voting was to vote yes on 1 but that she was busy and didn't know if she would be able to get there.  After telling her how important the issue was to me personally and why her vote counted, I convinced her to go.  Which is the whole point of canvassing.

I spent the afternoon trying to keep myself calm while drinking lots of coffee.  Messages of love and support were pouring in from people.  One of my favorites was from my new friend Heather who I have to come to love and adore through this campaign.  She wrote to me, "I knew we would be friends when I saw you come to school pick-up dressed like ice cream sandwich." 

We had given a lot of thought to where to spend election night. In the end we knew we wanted to be with family, with our kids and with the people we had campaigned with all summer- the people of Washington County.  When Sandi got home from work, we headed downeast to the election watch party Aunt Suzie had organized.  Not only would the place have a projection screen of the results but there was also a DJ and a dance floor.   I was sold.  We got there around 7 and I spent the next many  hours drinking wine and dancing.  It was a perfect cure for my restlessness.

My friend Melissa made this amazing cake for the party:
(photos of the party by Danielle Nelson, Wendy Dyer and me)

Aunt Suzie, Uncle Buck and Noah had decorated the place with all the parade signs and rainbow banners.  It was a celebration of color and joy and a reminder of what we had worked so hard for.  (And they, for the record, have done nothing except work hard for this cause.)

Noah commandearing the microphone to tell jokes.

Our friend Katie's grandparents, who appeared in an incredibly touching ad , were there to celebrate.
 And back by popular demand, not once but three times, the flash mob dance.  Even people who had never done it got on the floor to participate.

There was even a rainbow pinata.

Silly family pic

The girls went home to Beals with Sandi's parents around 10 and we stayed to watch the results.  I felt my anxiety level rise as the first precints reported in.  By 11:15, with California polls closed for a mere 15 minutes, they had projected Obama as the winner and we still didn't hear about question one.  (As Trish noted, "I'm Sexy and I Know It" was the song playing when Obama was reelected along with our hopes of federal marriage rights.)
With 40% of precints reporting, the YES vote was at about 53%. 
In 2009 we had an early lead which steadily declined until we lost.  I was not cheered by the lead this time and just wanted to dance and be unaware until it was over.  But mere minutes later, Mainer's United called the vote and said we had won.  Apparently once Portland reported in with even stronger numbers than expected, they knew they couldn't lose.   But we didn't fully understand this, or maybe it was the wine clouding my comprehension, but when people kept shouting, "WE WON!""  I kept thinking,  it's not real.
 We danced, we laughed, we hugged, we danced some more and hugged some more, then we cleaned up.  All the while I thought, they are going to call and say there has been some mistake

Brad and Norm when they heard we won
 I didn't cry.  I found it hard to rejoice or relax.  Sandi, Trish and I drove back to Beals at 1 A.M and I was still stunned.  We spent most of the next day with Sandi's family, processing the outcome and just enjoying being together.  And yet I remained shell shocked. 

After two entire days since the result and a lot of talking, I have finally figured out what is going on with me.  I am happy.  Of course I am.  But it is a bittersweet victory.  As Trish said when she wrote about this vote weeks ago, it isn't as though all the emotions that are stirred up just disappear when the results are announced. 

Not to be negative, but it is true that 47% of this state didn't want us to have equal rights.  A portion of that 47% actually thinks that who we are is fundamentally wrong.  They think our kids are being harmed growing up with us as their parents.  Another portion of that 47% might like us as neighbors, co-workers or even friends, yet they also think we would compromise the insitution of marriage and make it less sacred or special.  We live among this 47%.  They are the people whose yards held the signs that spoke out against us.  They are the people giving us the cold shoulder at school.  They are those that we must continue to work alongside and try to forgive.

In 2009 Washington County had only 35% of the pro same-sex marriage vote.  Aunt Suzie and Uncle Buck wanted to make that number different.  This time around Washington County had a 40.9% Yes vote.  That is significant and gratifying. Yet, when we were heading home yesterday and I stopped for gas, I couldn't help but look at the people around me and think: most of you here think I am less than you.

Now this isn't my usual take on things and it is bothering me a bit that I feel this way, yet it also makes perfect sense.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars, countless volunteer hours, devoted phone bankers and canvassers all went into making something happen that shouldn't have had to have happen in the first place.

It's awesome that we won our civil rights.  And so sucky that we had to fight for them in the first place.  Both Sandi and I find ourselves kind of heart broken that we live in a country where equality isn't a given but neccessitates a fight.

In looking at the election results, I was very interested to do some calculations to find out approximately how many people abstained.  In Maine, 706,300 people voted.  Yet there were only 702,345 votes cast on question one.  That means that roughly 3,955 people abstained from voting on question one.  I think this is a major victory.  Also, 36,293 more people voted YES on 1 than NO.  That number does cheer me.

Looking back over the campaign, I'm so proud of all that our friends and family did to support us and take this on as their own. I've been so impressed by the strong voices of straight people who have stood up for this cause. 

I take great joy and pride in the pictures of our summer. Without these people, we couldn't have done what we did.  (My sister and her family are not pictured here because they couldn't make it to any of the parades but their unwavering support has been steadfast and necessary.)


Katie and Alex

Beth Allen, campaign leader extraordinaire with her partner Val and their daughter, Oakley. This family's sacrafices on behalf of making this happen is astrounding to me. I have such great admiration and appreciation for all they gave up for the rest of us.


Kelly, Kane and Tracy.  My new loves of the summer.



Ange, Brady and Anna


Robbi and Chris (you two ROCK)


my mom (who argued with a Canadian over the details of their national health insurance plan, but that's a story for another time.)
While I suppose it is remotely possible that Maine could have passed question one without the help of these three, there is no doubt in my mind that it was because of them that so many of the lost and broken hearted gay people of rural Maine were able to survive the campaign.  Their unending enthusiasm, passion, presence, kindness, class, vision, inclusion and LOVE fueled us and gave us the energy to finish strong.  As they said many times, "It isn't just that you win, but how you win."  They did it right and much can be learned from their example.  I am beyond proud to call them my family.

But in the end, it always comes back to these two.  They make the fight worth it.  They live and breath love because they know no other way.


And us two, naturally.

We won.  I guess it's true. No one has called to say it is any different.

I do feel like I am nursing a broken heart in a way. I have a lot of forgiving to do to those I know who voted against us. I have to figure out a way to let winning be enough and move forward with love. 

My Facebook page and email box were inundated the day after the vote.  One woman, a sister of a friend wrote this amazing thing to me:

"I want thank you for your hard work on the campaign. Your passion truly was contagious and inspiring (even just watching via blogs and facebook). Remember reading in school about the key grassroots players in each of the civil rights movements? I truly believe that your work should make the history books!Congrats and happy wedding planning!"

No, we have no wedding plans.  We had braced ourselves to lose and never made any actual plans.  Plus there's the small bit about having no real income for another year that puts a damper on the party plans.  But you all know us now and you know that it was never about having a wedding.  We fought for equality, for rights, for the freedom to be in this state.  We fought for the community where our kids are growing up to be one of inclusion. 

I am proud of Maine.  I have felt lost here since 2009, like a balloon whose string has slipped out of a child's fist.  But now I feel like I have come home.   Thank you Maine.  If you voted YES or you supported from afar, thank you. 

I still haven't had a good, post-election cry but it will probably happen in a day or two when the dishwasher door gets jammed or the coffee burns in the pot.

Thank you Sandi for standing by my side and always reminding me why it was worth it.  I love you just as much today as I did on Monday when we didn't have the right to marry.  Because marriage has never, and will never, define us. 

It has always been, and always will be, about love.  That is who we are.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had the same reaction. Everybody told me to just celebrate the win and not think about everybody who voted no, but how can you not? When my friend and I discussed how excited we were about the win in class, I could feel the eyes of my classmates drilling into us. There are still people who believe it is wrong. I have this (probably irrational) fear that when same-sex couples go to get marriage licenses, they will be harassed and intimidated. It isn't that I'm a pessimist, it's just that this win is a stepping stone. A very significant stepping stone, but a stepping stone nonetheless. We are moving forward, but we still have a long way to go. In the words of Mad-Eye Moody, "Constant vigilance!" I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am not going to let marriage equality lull me into a sense of complacency, because equality in law doesn't necessarily mean equality in society!
Congratulations, nonetheless, for all of your hard work paying off! You clearly had so much invested in this campaign, and I immediately thought of you when I heard about the win. You are a wonderful person, and I am glad that I got to meet you through your campaigning efforts!

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