PORTLAND – Benjamin Hubley opposed the 2009 statewide referendum seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine. This time around, he’s voting in support of it.

A retired TV ad salesman, the 92-year-old Hubley said he has slowly grown to accept the idea that people of the same sex should be allowed to marry. He’s among the voters that advocates are counting on to make gay marriage legal.

“I would say it isn’t a life-or-death issue with me, it was just gradual,” said Hubley, who lives in South Portland.

Mainers will vote Nov. 6 on a ballot question proposing to make same-sex marriage legal. The vote comes three years after Mainers overturned a gay marriage law, 53-47 percent, that had been enacted by the Legislature.

Since 2009, gay marriage supporters say they’ve had more than 200,000 conversations with residents, on the phone and in person, in an effort to persuade people that gay couples should be able to marry, according to Mainers United for Marriage, the group leading the campaign in favor of the referendum.

Mainers United also hopes people who didn’t vote in 2009 will back the referendum this year, said spokesman David Farmer.

Since this is a presidential election year, the turnout is expected be higher than three years ago. About 570,000 Mainers voted in the 2009 gay marriage referendum, while more than 730,000 voted in the 2008 presidential election.

The electorate is also likely to be younger than in a nonpresidential election, he said, which would work in favor of the referendum.

One of the voters Mainers United is counting on is 37-year-old Lynn Sailor of Gray, who opposed same-sex marriage in 2009.

She later changed her mind after receiving a visit from gay marriage advocates two years ago.

It’s not fair that gay couples who are committed to each other don’t have the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples because they can’t get married, she said.

“People, gay or straight, why is it anybody else’s business if they’re married or not. Any human being should have the right to get married, whether they’re gay or straight,” Sailor said.

Mainers United provided The Associated Press with a short list of randomly selected names from a list of people who indicated they opposed gay marriage in the vote three years ago, but planned to vote in favor of same-sex marriage on Tuesday.

Of the six people contacted, two said they opposed gay marriage, even if United Marriage’s list indicated they supported it. One of them even said she had changed her mind in favor of gay marriage but had reverted to her original position of being opposed.

Many people will tell gay marriage supporters and public-opinion pollsters that they support gay marriage when in fact they don’t, said Carroll Conley, head of the Christian Civic League of Maine and co-chairman of Protect Marriage Maine, a political action committee that opposes the referendum.

For that reason, polls suggesting the referendum will pass could well be skewed, Conley said.

“People do not want to be perceived as being unfair or uncaring, and that certainly plays a role in the polling and in these conversations,” he said.

And there are Mainers who supported gay marriage in 2009 who now oppose it, he said, but are afraid to publicly voice their opinions.

“There’s just such a backlash when somebody stands up publicly and says I support the status quo,” he said. “They get hammered.”

Still, gay marriage backers who once opposed the idea are playing a role in the campaign.

A Mainers United TV ad features Republican state Rep. Stacey Fitts of Pittsfield, who voted against gay marriage when he was a legislator in 2009 but now plans to vote for it.

“Society in general,” Fitts said, “has come to the idea of why would we ostracize people for something that’s part of who they are.”


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