Alex Blaze

Marriage advocates in VT outspent the homophobes 7-1

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 29, 2009 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: campaign finance law, Freedom to Marry, gay marriage, homophobic people, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, spending, Vermont

Marriage advocates in Vermont spent more than anti-gay forces:

The leading proponent of Vermont's gay marriage bill spent about $294,000 on lobbying and advertising in advance of the Legislature's vote -- more than seven times as much as opponents did, according to disclosure forms filed Monday.

Through its task force and an action committee, Vermont Freedom to Marry spent $65,866 of that in the week before the April 7 vote by the Democrat-controlled Vermont house, which passed the bill in a 100-49 vote to override the veto of Republican Gov. Jim Douglas.[...]

Meanwhile, same-sex marriage opponents spent only $41,769 on their campaign, according to final disclosure forms filed Monday.

Is this a guideline for other states? Do they all have to spend seven times more in order to win one of these fights?

Take It to the People is still bitter:

Craig Bensen, president of Take It To The People, which opposed the bill and wanted voters to decide if same-sex marriage should be allowed, said the money was key.

"They should be embarrassed they had to spend all that money to achieve that success, and that it was as close as it was," he said.

And they should be embarrassed that they lost in a country with a 230 year history of institutionalized homophobia.

This is a chunk of change to get a bill through the legislature, and I wouldn't trust the anti-gay side's numbers all that much. If other states are any indication, they usually low-ball their disclosures because they don't include political services provided by churches and intangibles that are hard to quantify.


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I think it's also worth noting that they spent this money to acheive a _supermajority_, not a simple majority. My guess is that without the veto (and the veto threat) the cost of passing the bill would have been much lower.

The amount of money spent on marriage recognition in Vermont is far less than the annual budget of a lot of state Equality organizations (the 2008 Equality Federation State of the States report shows a mean budget of $920k and a median budget of $560k). I'd be thrilled if we could accomplish marriage equality or add gender protections to our non-discrimination law in my state on that little money (granted, Vermont is a small state with a cheap media market).

(snark-free post ahead)

I hear what's implicit in Alex's post as well:

Why are we spending this money on marriage when there are so many other areas where LGBT people need legislative protection?

My days of knee jerk reactions are over (grumble, grumble, thank you, Alex, thank you, Yasmin, for making me think about shit I was happy not to) BUT...

I still think it's a sad commentary that so much has been bound up in marriage.

I realize we're talking about the state level in this particular case, so we're nowhere near the more than 1,000 benefits attendant on marriage at the federal level, but it's the fact that legislators bundled these benefits onto marriage at the different levels of governments that have forced (some of) us to fight.

In a (Yasmin-envisioned) ideal world, I suppose, benefits would be available to those who applied for them, and I think that the ultimate result of the gay marriage movement will be to awaken all of us to the intelligence of that choice. I just doubt whether most of us, myself included, are willing to forego existing political paradigms for non-existent ones when we've none of us had experience in bringing those about.

wow... must be the heat... (it's uncharacteristically hot out here in the Pacific Northwest this week)

I just went on a magic carpet ride, didn't I?

Actually, that wasn't my implication at all. I have no idea how they're distributing their resources up there and if they have just so much to spend on all these programs. I hope they're being responsible about it.

But, yeah, I do wonder if this money came at the expense of queer youth homelessness or HIV/AIDS programs.

Mary Hayes | July 30, 2009 8:59 AM

Good for them. They knew what was needed to succeed and they did it. And like it or not, people do have a right to choose what they spend their money on. But you can't expect much more of those poor misguided bumpkins and Vermont -- someone apparently needs to explain to them why they need to be told by third parties how to spend their money and energy. What on earth are we going to do about them? Maybe equality organizations in Vermont should be sent spreadsheets with proposed budgets.

As for needy families and children, those are always with us, and some of them are families headed by same-sex couples. Anybody for postponing any and all efforts for equality until there's no poverty left in the world and eternal peace in the Middle East?

It's unfortunate that a Bilerico contributor is making disapproving noises and apparently isn't very happy for them; but -- even more unfortunately -- not surprising considering the anti-marriage equality screeds that are regular fare here.

Ummmm... do we need a lesson in reading comprehension?

Actually, that wasn't my implication at all. I have no idea how they're distributing their resources up there and if they have just so much to spend on all these programs. I hope they're being responsible about it.

And I'm sorry that 2 contributors out of 60+ being against marriage is too much for you to handle. I do have to wonder why people are so insecure about that issue, as if the mere existence of people, any number of people, who are against marriage means that marriage advocates are wrong or that their arguments are inadequate. Whether they post on this site or not, they exist and they're part of this motley crew we call the LGBT community.

Mary Hayes | July 30, 2009 4:30 PM

It isn't "too much" for me to handle, or I wouldn't be here. And apparently, we're allowed to disagree with anti-marriage views on this site or the post wouldn't have appeared.

If legal same-sex marriage becomes a reality, you won't be forced to get married; but people defending the status quo want same-sex couples who do want to marry to continue being denied what the Supreme Court decided 40 years ago is a civil right under the US Constitution. Some of the aforesaid motley crew might find that acceptable; but it shouldn't be surprising that it isn't to everybody.

Thanks for your feedback, Alex, and I'm sorry that someone took our thoughtfulness the wrong way. For the record, I don't think that either you are Yasmin are against anyone's marriage per se. I think the question of priorities is a valid one, and I think it's also valid for people to decide that gay marriage is an important priority in their lives, given the way government works with marriage.

Rick Sours | July 29, 2009 5:29 PM

Given the present economic situation; $65,866
would have gone along way to help many needy
families and children. Various groups say they
are for families. Maybe they could spend
their money more in ways that really help
American families who are presently struggling
to survive.