PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- More than 300 gay marriage supporters waved signs and cheered Thursday at a get-out-the-vote rally in a final campaign push before next week’s statewide same-sex marriage referendum.
The rally in Portland’s Monument Square featured speeches from campaign organizers, a lesbian couple, pastors and other supporters who urged attendants to show up at the polls and encourage others to do the same on Election Day.
The memory of 2009, when voters overturned a gay marriage law passed earlier in the year by the Legislature, is still painful, Matt McTighe, campaign director for Mainers United for Marriage, told the crowd.
One key to victory this year will be to convince others that allowing "loving, committed" couples to marry is the right thing to do, he said. He encouraged people to vote early by absentee ballot at Portland City Hall after the rally.
"We do not want to wake up the day after the election and think we could have done it if we’d just worked a little harder or had a few more conversations," he said.
With just days to go before the election and polls in their favor, gay marriage supporters are cautiously optimistic that the measure will pass this year. Polls three years ago also showed support for same-sex marriage, but the push to keep the state’s gay marriage law on the books fell short by 33,000 votes.
Sarah Dowling, of Freeport, told the crowd that people shouldn’t be swayed by gay marriage opponents’ arguments that supporters want to redefine marriage. Rather, she said, she and her partner merely want to be included in the institution of marriage.
"We honor marriage by wanting to be married," she said.
Sarah Holmes, of Portland, attended the rally with her partner to show her support for the campaign. They got engaged Wednesday night.
"It’s a fight I continue to fight not just for myself, but for everyone in my community," Holmes said.