New documentary looks at the marriage battle in Maine

I went to a private screening Tuesday night of “Question One,” a new documentary about the battle to save marriage equality in Maine in 2010. As you may recall, we lost that battle, and the new marriage law was repealed.

The documentary is quite well done, it’s the kind of thing you could easily imagine watching on PBS. It follows both camps in the battle, the pro-gay side and the anti-gay side. Incredibly, the anti-gays let the documentary filmmakers follow them around, and they gave some quite candid interviews that were almost hard to believe. It’s a heck of a cautionary tale as to how ruthless the paid consultants are who actually run these anti-gay campaigns for the religious right and the bigots at the Catholic Church.

Speaking of which, why are the anti-gay bigots at Catholic Charities still on the board of directors of the Coalition on Human Needs? Has this church not done enough to merit it being unwelcome as the table of one of the largest coalitions of progressive non-profits in the country? And Catholic Charities was even willing to stop helping children in needs, lest they be forced to abide by civil rights covering gay and trans Americans. Some progressive organization, a group willing to let children suffer lest they be forced to be nice to the gay. Why are far right homophobic activists, represented by Lucreda Cobbs, sitting on the board of an organization that far too many progressive groups in this town are members of?

Not to mention, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is on the CHN board too – just watch the documentary and watch a Catholic Bishop shake hands with the leader of a known hate group after addressing the crowd of anti-gay bigots. Some progressive group they are. You have to wonder if CHN would permit an organization that fraternized with anti-black and anti-semitic hate groups to be on their board – or is it only okay when their board members, like the Catholic Bishops’ Kathy Saile, represent organizations that fraternize with anti-gay hate groups?

The American Independent has more on this particular aspect of the story:

One of the characters at the center of those twists is Marc Mutty, director of public affairs for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and the former chair of Stand for Marriage Maine Political Action Committee (SMM). The film begins with Mutty describing his role in the campaign as that of the “chief cook and bottle washer,” but in the campaign’s final weeks, it’s Frank Schubert, president of California-based Schubert Flint Public Affairs -– the same publicity firm used to defeat same-sex marriage in California in 2008 –- who is calling all the shots, telling reporters he’s the chairman of SMM, making himself marketable for a future anti-same-sex marriage campaign.

At one point in the film, Mutty admits to being upset over two ads pushed by Schubert Flint, which Mutty admits “when I saw it, I cringed,” because of their insistence that same-sex marriage in Maine will lead to teachers instructing first-graders about gay sex. The longer version of the ad, which Mutty opted not to use, discussed sex toys. In the car, a visibly frustrated Mutty tells Schubert in clipped tones that his staff signed off on the ad. He then slams his cell phone shut and mutters, “So Frank wins the day again.”

In another scene, Mutty admits he didn’t have a better campaign strategy than the one devised by Schubert Flint.

“In order for me to resist, I had to have a different plan, which I didn’t,” Mutty tells the camera. “I certainly could have devised a whole way of approaching this that was very different. But do I believe it would have won for us? No.”

“The least likely character is someone like a Marc Mutty,” Fox told TAI. “He was sort of like a gift from the gods, in every way. … I always thought he felt like he had made a pact with the devil but he would come out okay. I think he underestimated the intensity of this issue, and I think he underestimated the force he was dealing with the Schubert Flint. It was clear he was outmatched.”

On screen, Mutty says he never wanted to run the “Yes on 1″ campaign, but that his boss, Bishop Richard Malone, wanted the diocese to handle it, and Mutty felt as though he had no choice. In the early days of the campaign, he jokes around with his small staff in their Yarmouth, Maine, headquarters and appears to take his position — one he describes as being “impossible” — in stride. But by the campaign’s end, Mutty often appears agitated, saying things like: “This has been a mother-f***ing son of a b*tch.”

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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