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04/19/2007


Equality Maine Endorses Gay Gubernatorial Candidate Mike Michaud, Angers Pro-Equality Opponent

MikemichaudEqualityMaine, the state's most prominent gay rights advocacy group, has officially backed openly gay Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud (right) in the 2014 gubernatorial race. The independent candidate, Eliot Cutler (below, right), who has a strong history of financial support for EqualityMaine and ideological support for gay rights, has fired back at the decision. Cutler, and other critics of the decision, agree that Rep. Michaud's support for gay rights issues has not always been so steady, though he has arguably evolved and become, in recent years, a huge ally for Maine's LGBT citizens. This evolution is, of course, in line with his own sexuality; he officially came out in November.

Bangor Daily News reports:

Cutler’s campaign on Thursday dismissed the EqualityMaine endorsement as “a partisan political decision, not a principled one.” Cutler spokeswoman Crystal Canney issued a statement contrasting the independent’s history supporting gay rights with Michaud’s background on the issue.

“Eliot Cutler and his family have stood side by side with the [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual] community for decades as outspoken advocates and supporters. Mike Michaud’s voting record in the Maine Legislature — 19 consecutive votes against equal rights for the LGBT community — speaks for itself,” Canney said. “EqualityMaine cannot take away Eliot Cutler’s record on these issues, any more than they can create a new record for Mike Michaud.”

Eliotcutler

Michaud was of course more pleased by the announcement:

“I’m deeply humbled by this endorsement. The efforts of EqualityMaine have truly changed hearts and minds, and made our state a better place for all Mainers to live, work and raise a family,” [Michaud] said. “For years I have been honored to stand with EqualityMaine and other LGBT organizations as we’ve fought for full equality for all Maine people, and I will continue to stand with them as governor of Maine. Together we have made tremendous progress at the state and federal level, but there is still more work to be done.”

What do you think about Equality Maine's decision?


1,530 Same-Sex Couples Married In Maine Since Voters Passed Question 1

Snell

Since Maine legalized same-sex marriage last year by a voter referendum known as "Question 1," joining Maryland and Washington to become the first states to allow gay couples to marry by way of ballot measure, over 1,500 same-sex couples in the state have been wed, according to the AP:

Ian Grady, of EqualityMaine, which led the referendum drive in Maine, said the process of recognizing same-sex marriages is speeding up nationwide. None of potential problems cited by gay marriage opponents — teaching same-sex marriage in schools, churches being forced to perform ceremonies — have come to bear, Grady said.

Meanwhile, it's been fun to see a variety of couples wed over the past year, he said. There have been large weddings with hundreds of guests, while other couples have opted for low-key events. Some couples had to wait decades for the right to get married, while other younger couples didn't have to wait long at all.

"What they all had in common was that they were incredibly joyful occasions," Grady said.

6a00d8341c730253ef01156f7caed6970c-800wiMeanwhile, opponents of same-sex marriage in the Pine Tree State, continue to argue that gay marriage will infringe upon individuals' religious liberties and cause trouble for wedding cake makers, photographers and other such wedding vendors who object to gay marriage and decline to work with gay couples. Carroll Conley, of The Christian Civic League of Main, a primary opponent of the referendum that ultimately won out, said,

"When we look across the country, this is definitely not a live-and-let-live proposition. The whole argument was about equality and we said during our campaign that we thought there would be people who'd find themselves in the crosshairs of the redefinition of marriage."

The 1,530 same-sex couples that married make up approximately 16 percent of all couples who said "I do" in Maine last year. Steven Bridges and Michael Snell (pictured above) were the first same-sex couple to get married after the referendum passed. As the fanfare has died down, the couple, who has been together for ten years, reflected on their historic union:

"We weren't looking anything special. We were just looking for the same thing that was afforded to everyone else through marriage," Snell said...

One of these days, what the couple did won't be unusual, Bridges said.

"With so many other states passing same-sex marriage laws, it's going to be normal. That's what we always wanted. We didn't want a gay wedding. We just wanted a wedding," he said.


Congressman Mike Michaud, Who Came Out as Gay This Week, Speaks to Rachel Maddow: VIDEO

Maddow_michaud

Rachel Maddow speaks to Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) who came out of the closet earlier this week in response to what he called a "whisper campaign" by opponents, spoke to Maddow last night in a segment assessing the state of the Maine gubernatorial race.

Said Michaud:

"I have no idea who was doing it - all I know is that there was speculation out there that I was gay and I wanted to be upfront, be honest with the voters of the state of Maine, 'yes I am but what should that matter? I'm the same person today that I was last week, last year and the year before.' I'm Mike, and I want to talk about the issues and it was very important for me to put that on the table so we can move on and talk about issues."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Congressman Mike Michaud, Who Came Out as Gay This Week, Speaks to Rachel Maddow: VIDEO" »


U.S. Congressman Mike Michaud: 'Yes I am' Gay

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, (D-ME) who is also running for governor of Maine, came out of the closet today in response to "whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls some of the people opposed to my candidacy have been using to raise questions about [his] personal life".

MichaudWrites Michaud in a Portland Press Herald op-ed:

"They want people to question whether I am gay. Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: 'Yes I am. But why should it matter?'"

Adds Michaud:

That may seem like a big announcement to some people. For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation mill worker or a lifelong Mainer. One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine.

Whether I was punching a time clock at Great Northern Paper Company for 29 years, serving the people of Maine in the state Legislature, or fighting for our nation’s veterans on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, my personal life has never factored into how I do my job.

That’s certainly not going to change if I’m elected governor. While I’ve grown and evolved over the course of my career, I’ve never lost sight of where I came from.

My father worked in the mill for 43 years. My grandfather before him for 40 years. I was the second of six children, and from a young age our parents instilled in us the values of hard work, integrity and honesty.

Most of all, I was brought up believing you should judge a person based on the content of his or her character, not by their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. That’s a value I know most Mainers share.

MaineMichaud says he does not want to be seen as someone who's ashamed of who he is, and plans to run a positive campaign:

Growing up in a large Franco-American Catholic family, it’s never been in my nature to talk about myself. I write this now merely to let my opponents and the outside interests who fund them know that I am not ashamed of who I am. And if seeing someone from my background, in my position openly acknowledge the fact that he’s gay makes it a little bit easier for future generations to live their lives openly and without fear, all the better.

I don’t plan to make my personal life or my opponents’ personal lives an issue in this campaign. We’ve had enough negativity in our politics and too many personal attacks over the last few years. We owe it to the people of Maine to focus on how we get our state back on track.

Michaud is running against incumbent Republican Governor Paul LePage. Asurvey published on October 19th showed Michaud and LePage nearly even, with independent candidate Eliot Cutler behind them by a few percentage points.

Mike Tipping, at the Bangor Daily News, thinks Michaud's coming out will help his campaign.

A few of his thoughts, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "U.S. Congressman Mike Michaud: 'Yes I am' Gay" »


Former President George H.W. Bush Serves as Witness to Gay Marriage in Maine: PHOTO

Bush

Former President George H.W. Bush served as an official witness at the marriage of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, the owners of a general store in Kennebunk, Maine, close to where the Bush family has a home.

Bush's rep. confirmed the news, which Clement and Thorgalsen posted on their Facebook page, writing: "Getting our marriage license witnessed!"

The WaPo reports:

In an email from their honeymoon in London, Clement told us they’ve known the former first couple for years and were thrilled they accepted the wedding invitation. Thinking about “how monumental this time is in our lives” and “how blessed we are to be in their lives,” they decided to ask them “to really personalize it for us” as witnesses.

“This is such a wonderful time for change in our legal system,” she added. “Who would be best to help us acknowledge the importance of our wedding as our friends and as the former leader of the free world. When they agreed to do so we just felt that it was the next acknowledgment of being ‘real and normal.’”

Clement and Thorgalsen have been together for 12 years.


The Remarkable Gay Writer and Activist behind Portland's New Slogan

Screen Shot 2013-06-21 at 1.01.40 PM 1

Portland has a new slogan--"Portland, Maine. Yes. Life's good here."--with an awesome backstory.  The new slogan was announced by city leaders this Tuesday, to mostly positive reviews, the Portland Press Herald reports:

City and business leaders introduced Portland's new slogan Tuesday, saying its simplicity and versatility open up many marketing opportunities.

The new slogan got less favorable reviews from a local marketing firm. And the upbeat line about Portland's quality of life got skewered by droves of Facebook users.

The slogan – "Portland, Maine. Yes. Life's good here." – was inspired by a writer who lived in Portland, and is part of a branding effort the city expects to roll out over this summer. That effort includes a promotional video, which also debuted Tuesday, and other yet-to-be-developed strategies for promoting the city.

PrestonThe writer whose words were adapted for the new slogan was John Preston, a gay man who died of AIDS complications in 1994.  A pioneering author of gay fiction and nonfiction, Preston had lived in San Francisco, New York, Minneapolis and other cities before settling in Portland in 1979.  As Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz wrote this week, Preston penned an essay the year before he died called "Portland, Maine: Life's Good Here":

The title stems from a question Preston was asked repeatedly by his friends in New York City, who couldn't for the life of them figure out what he was doing in a city of 60,000 that looked from the Big Apple like the middle of nowhere.

"Are you ready to come back yet?" his friends would ask.

"No," Preston would reply. "Life's good here."

"I always call it the toy city, because it's so small, but it is a city," he wrote. "It has all the urban accoutrements that keep it from being just a place where a lot of people happen to live -- someplace like Manchester, New Hampshire, for example, which has more people but none of the cultured air of Portland."

During his time in Portland, Preston advocated for LGBT rights measures, and was a major force behind the city's Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Ordinance in 1992.  He probably couldn't have imagined that same-sex couples would be able to wed in Maine less than two decades after his death, and that Portland would be among the first communities to issue marriage licenses at 12:01 a.m. on December 29.

(image arsenal pulp press)


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