Mainers United for Marriage and the ACLU held a press conference yesterday announcing the formation of Republicans United for Marriage, a group of GOP lawmakers who are pledging to vote "yes" for marriage equality in November.
Mainers United reports:
We were happy to have several guest speakers at the launch, including Rep. Stacey Fitts, R-Pittsfield, who has changed his mind about the freedom to marry.
“I voted against same-sex marriage in 2009, but I changed my mind,” said Rep. Stacey Fitts, a Pittsfield Republican. “I know some gay people and I’ve talked with them and my family, and I’ve thought about it a lot. As a husband and a father, I’ve come to believe that two people who love each other should have the freedom to get married.”
It's people like Stacey Fitts who let voters know that it is okay to change their minds. Other republican speakers drew on their own relationships as inspiration. For Dan Demeritt a, Republican consultant and former director of communications for Gov. Paul LePage, it was his relationship with his wife that helped him through good times and bad, convincing him to support the campaign.
“I support the freedom to marry because I want every person to have a chance at that kind of relationship, to be able to share the joys and obligations, and to help shoulder the troubles of life that we all face,” Demeritt said.
In addition to the speakers at the event, other prominent Republicans present included: Amy Abbott, Portland; Greg Boulos, Cape Elizabeth; Brenda Garrand, Portland; Jim Nicholson, Waterville; Ted O’Meara, South Portland; Rep. Dave Richardson, Carmel; James Shaffer, Cape Elizabeth; Gordon Smith, Winthrop; Betsy Tipper, Smithfield; and Karl Turner, Cumberland.
The group has about 20 members in all right now, including attorney Clare Payne, an active Republican from Holden.
"I used to believe that marriage was only between a man and a woman, however based on my review of the legal issues and my own life experiences, I now believe that everyone deserves equal protection under the law when it comes to the right to marry," Payne said.
Organizers of the coalition behind the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine say the new Republican partnership shows that it is no longer a partisan issue.