Earlier this year, civil rights advocates celebrated when several New England states granted marriage rights to gay couples.
But opponents are waging a campaign to eliminate the right to marry in Maine, and to eliminate rights like hospital visitation and death benefits for gay firefighters in Washington. These two battles could prove instrumental in California's upcoming battle to repeal Prop 8.
The Maine campaign has shown care in learning from the victories and mistakes of the Prop 8 campaign. This week, they released two television ads: one features a military man talking about equality for his daughter; the other highlights the normalcy of a family with two moms. The second ad is a notable departure from the Prop 8 strategy, which rendered gay couples almost entirely invisible in TV ads. But the ads also borrow from a strategy that won support from Californians: these ads feature honest testimony from locals. In contrast, the anti-marriage campaign was recently caught paying actors to pose as concerned citizens.
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It's unclear when the marriage ban will be back on California's ballot. Equality California, one of the largest organizations for gay equality in California, recently laid out a three-year plan that would have us voting in 2012. But a grassroots campaign is organizing quickly and efficiently for a vote in 2010.
But no matter what year Californians vote again on each others' marriages, the results of upcoming elections in other states will exert a heavy influence.