How a Politics of Empathy Helped Maine Voters Accept Gay Marriage

Amy Fried, Robert W. Glover, University of Maine

The 2015 Supreme Court decision on gay marriage ratified a shift in American public opinion. At a pivotal moment three years ago, the state of Maine – with many older voters – became one of the first to Iegalize gay marriage by popular referendum. To explain how this happened, Amy Fried and Rob Glover underline the power of empathetic messages invoking widely shared family values, courageously delivered by straight as well as gay Mainers invoking personal stories.

Fried and Glover discussed the Maine gay marriage campaign in a recent OpEd for Talking Points Memo, recently reprinted in the Bangor Daily News. The Talking Points version includes a link to one of the most effective television ads used in the campaign, which featured a 90-year-old World War II veteran from the northern community of Machias talking about his desire to live to see the marriage of his lesbian granddaughter and her partner.

As professors of political science at the University of Maine, Amy Fried and Rob Glover each draw from their research and teaching to address important civic concerns locally and nationally. Fried serves as co-director of the Maine chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network.

July 2015