Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Guest post by Kim Troup: Protecting Maine Equality--A "Volunteer Vacationer's" Experience

Nashvillian Kim Troup discusses her experience of volunteering in Maine's Vote No on 1 campaign. Her son directs key projects in the campaign. Citizens of Maine are on their final day of voting on whether to keep or repeal marriage equality. What follows are Kim's reflections on volunteering in the campaign:

November 3, 2009 – Last week I spent 7 days on the ground with the “No On 1/Protect Maine Equality” campaign at campaign headquarters in Portland. It was exciting to be at the center of the action for most of the final exhausting week of the campaign. The headquarters was abuzz with constant activity from early morning until 10 or 11 pm each night. Over 100 “volunteer vacationers” like myself came from all over the country to supplement the work being done by the campaign staff and thousands of volunteers from Maine. There were canvass trainings and phone bank trainings at least once each day and hundreds of volunteers were in and out of the office all day long preparing for a canvass, manning the phones, doing data entry and a myriad of other tasks. It was inspiring to hear some of the stories and to meet both gay, lesbian and straight allies who were all united in a common purpose – protecting marriage equality for all Maine families which had been granted by the legislature in May. For those of you who may not know, Maine law provides a citizens veto provision. As expected, the other side collected enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot for today’s election.

I spent all of my time working with the Satellite Phone Bank and the phone from home “Call for Equality” program. My son, Matt Moonen, is the director of these 2 efforts so it was fun for us to reverse our previous roles and have Matt as the staff director and me as the volunteer. The first couple of days I did tons and tons of data entry into the VAN system. If you’ve worked on a campaign recently, you’re probably familiar with this database of registered voters. We were getting constant updates from the field efforts and it was critical to update the VAN to make sure voters were marked as a supporter, non-supporter or as undecided. It was a tedious job but important for our Get Out the Vote (GOTV) strategy which went into full swing on Wednesday. This effort targeted our supporters reminding them to get out and vote while allowing the campaign to not waste time calling voters who were on the other side. We had multiple satellite phone banks going on all over the country each day. Many of our sister organizations that belong to the Equality Federation such as the Human Rights Campaign, Equality CA, Equality Maryland, MassEquality and our own TN Equality Project held one or more phone banks for the campaign. Other groups like the Courage Campaign of CA, the Vermont Freedom to Marry Coalition and Love Makes A Family of CT were also involved. Matt estimated that more than 75,000 calls were made to Maine voters on Sunday & Monday from these groups. Student led phone banks were happening at colleges and universities all across the country including American, Georgetown, UC-Davis, UC-Berkley, Columbia, Harvard, Duke, Yale, Indiana, Oberlin, Notre Dame and many, many more. We made confirmation calls daily to the groups having satellite phone banks the next day to determine the number of people they expected, making sure they had the latest script and then finding out if they planned to use Call Fire or needed calling lists on paper so Matt could prepare their materials and train them as needed.

Each day we had hundreds of individual volunteers making phone calls from their home through the Call for Equality Program. We conducted webinar trainings for these volunteers daily walking them through our updated script and how to use the Call Fire computerized system to make calls to Maine voters. Matt & I did role plays for each training to illustrate several typical responses from voters that callers might encounter. After a couple of sessions I was able to help him field many of the calls that invariably came in from volunteers who had been through training but were having problems logging into the system. Usually it was something simple like omitting one of the steps of the login process. I also did daily data entry into VAN of all the volunteers, scheduling them for a training session and one or more call shifts. We made daily recruitment calls to individual volunteers who signed up for the Call for Equality program. Over 100,000 calls have been made to Maine voters by the phone from home program.

Local press was in the office almost daily with many state officials as well as congresswoman Chellie Pingree holding press conferences in support of “No On 1.” The governor held a press conference at campaign headquarters on Thursday and then appeared on Rachel Maddow that evening. I was able to attend a live televised debate at the University of Southern Maine in Portland on Wednesday. The 450 seat auditorium was filled with “No On 1” supporters all wearing red. We were represented very capably by Mary Banauto, a lawyer from GLAD in Boston who lives in Portland. Mary was so outstanding in the debate. She has a brilliant legal mind but presents her arguments in a calm, soft voice that is totally disarming to the other side.

Today is election day in Maine and it is too close to call. I will be eagerly awaiting the results tonight as will all of the wonderful people I met while working on the campaign. Our GOTV efforts have been extensive by phone and by face to face canvasses all across the state. Hopefully it will be enough to ensure that all Maine families equal protection under the law.