Photo Retrospective: The road to the freedom to marry in Maine!

Tonight at midnight, same-sex couples across the state of Maine will finally have the freedom to marry. It's been a long time coming - marriage advocates in Maine have been working toward ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage since Spring 2009. We're so excited that this November, after some significant setbacks and missteps, the campaign to win marriage in Maine was victorious, making the state the first jurisdiction anywhere, worldwide, to proactively win marriage by popular vote. 
So how did we do it? How did we turn a disappointing defeat in 2009 into an amazing victory in 2012? It wasn't easy - but with the support of thousands of Mainers and the heartfelt stories of hundreds of families, we finally did it. Relive the road to the freedom to marry with this photo retrospective!

1. Maine Governor John Baldacci signed a marriage bill into law on May 6, 2009 after it passed out of both houses of the state legislature. Since April 2004, same-sex couples in Maine had been permitted to join together in domestic partnership, which afforded them some of the protections - but none of the dignity and respect - that marriage provides. (Photo by AP)

2. Almost immediately, anti-gay groups began gathering signatures in order to place the new marriage law before voters in a referendum. They were successful, and Question 1 - which would overturn the marriage law - was planned for the ballot in November 2009. Supporters of the freedom to marry gathered to lead the No on Question 1 campaign, working hard to speak with potential supporters about why marriage matters for all families in the state. (Screenshot from the Film Question 1, which chronicles both sides of the campaign) 

3. After months of campaigning, anti-gay forces in Maine managed to push through their discriminatory ballot measure on November 3, 2009. The freedom to marry was veturned, devastating hundreds of families in the state. (Screenshot from the FilmQuestion 1, which chronicles both sides of the campaign) 

4. Supporters of the freedom to marry regrouped shortly after the loss. Equality Maine, the statewide organization dedicated to working toward fairness for the LGBT community, began mounting a campaign to take back the freedom to marry. After strategizing and determing new, more effective ways to win, the new coalition, Mainers United for Marriage, launched in January. They began collecting signatures in order to place the freedom to marry before voters once again. 

5. Mainers United for Marriage engaged in thousands of conversations with voters across the state.  The coalition cast a wider net this time around, reaching out more proactively to "middle voters" who were not already committed to voting in favor of same-sex couples. A robust team of volunteers knocked on doors, calling voters months ahead of the election to help the community understand the importance of marriage. (Photo by Mainers United for Marriage)

6. Question 1 qualified for the ballot, and the Yes on 1 campaign launched. Mainers United rebranded as "Yes on 1," driving voters to support the freedom to marry. The team hosted rallies across the state, including a huge kick-off rally in Portland, overseen by Campaign Manager Matt McTighe (Pictured, Photo by Mainers United for Marriage)

7. The Yes on 1 team rethought public education strategies, shifting from a focus on "rights and benefits" from 2009 to a focus on love and commitment. Extensive, strategic testing and research showed Freedom to Marry and all of the state campaigns the importance of messaging - and that voters connect with "the Golden Rule," treating others like you'd like to be treated, when deciding on whether to support marriage for same-sex couples. Television ads, like this one featuring The Gardner Family and Harlan Gardner, a World War II veteran who wants his granddaughter to be able to marry her partner in Maine, connected extraordinarily well with voters.

8. Couples spoke out about why marriage matters to them - including Beth and Valerie from Fletcher's Landing Township (pictured) and Sarah and Linda from Freeport. Read their stories HERE. 

9. On Election Day, November 6, Maine became the first state ever to win the freedom to marry by popular vote. It was a huge shift from 2009, with many counties that voted against the freedom to marry then voting in favor of it this year. Over the course of the campaign, volunteers and organizers in the state made more than one million telephone calls, knocked on nearly 300,000 doors, and had 275,000 one-on-one conversations with voters about why marriage matters. Freedom to Marry played a key role in the campaign, investing $1.3 million in direct cash and helping to raise an additional $1.35 million to fund public education efforts in the state. (Photo courtesy of Beth Allen)   

10. On December 29, the freedom to marry will finally take effect in Maine. Couples throughout the state will be able to get married beginning at midnight - and ceremonies are already planned in Portland, Bangor, and other major cities in the state. Couples like Ray and Rodney will finally be able to marry!  (Photo Courtesy of Mainers United for Marriage)