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Maine gay marriage campaign launched

PORTLAND, Maine - The newly named manager of a campaign seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine said he expects the campaign to spend more than $5 million before November’s election.

The Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition announced Tuesday that it has created a political action committee called Mainers United for Marriage to spearhead the campaign in favor of a referendum asking voters if they favor legalizing gay marriage.

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Matt McTighe, who was named campaign manager, expects supporters will have to raise at least $5 million. Gay marriage advocates spent about $5 million in 2009, when residents rejected a statewide gay marriage referendum, he said. McTighe said the campaign will focus on talking to Mainers one on one, in person and by phone, to make the case that gay marriage is about giving “loving, committed couples’’ the right to marry, as heterosexual couples can.

As the election draws nearer, he said, he would not be surprised to see gay marriage opponents use scare tactics and attempt to mislead voters.

“We’ve seen opponents of marriage in every state rely on these types of arguments because they know it’s worked in other states,’’ he said.

An opposition group is also forming a political action committee, called Protect Marriage Maine, said Carroll Conley, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine. The PAC was formed by the Christian Civic League, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Rev. Bob Emrich, a pastor from Plymouth and chairman of the league, Conley said.

Referendum opponents expect to be outspent 2 to 1, Conley said. His PAC is committed to being respectful and civil, he said, but he said he would not be surprised if referendum supporters were to accuse opponents of using scare tactics for pointing out what they see as the “negative consequences’’ of same-sex marriages.

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