Over the Rainbow: San Francisco Organization Airlifting Volunteers to Maine to Organize for Same-Sex Marriage

No matter what you've heard, assures Jay Jonah Cash, Californians are not as annoying nor as despised as one might think.

The co-founder of Travel for Change has sent scads of Golden Staters to volunteer across the nation for liberal causes, first as a precinct captain and travel coordinator for the Obama campaign (he organized trips for about 7,000 Californians to Nevada and Colorado) and now on his own. Cash's San Francisco-based group has sent dozens of volunteers to Maine, to join local efforts countering an anti-same-sex marriage proposition. One of the next folks headed to the Pine Tree State will be Cash himself.

As far as anti-California backlash -- which any local traveling to Oregon, say, has experienced (especially if he or she has an interest in obtaining property), "We were expecting that during the Obama campaign and we just didn't get it," says Cash, 38. "We sent 7,000 people and they all had my e-mail address. And out of them, I had three people send me e-mails about people being upset because out-of-staters came."

Janine Kahn
Jay Jonah Cash
Rather than resent Californians -- and Northern Californians to boot -- Cash said people "really respected others who took time off to fly across the continent because they believe in something."

Cash's organization allows folks to donate their frequent-flier miles or purchase airline tickets for themselves or others. So far, he's helped send volunteers not just from California but all over the country to embed themselves in the ground assault of the "No on 1: Protect Maine Equality" campaign. He's also working to get people in nearby cities such as Boston to drive to Maine for a forthcoming "equality weekend" to volunteer their time.

Given Maine's small population -- at 1.3 million, it's roughly equivalent to San Francisco and Oakland, combined -- advocates both for and against same-sex marriage feel their dollars and volunteerism can turn the tide. The proposition is closely contested and many see Maine as an incubator for the forthcoming same-sex marriage battles to be played out elsewhere.

"It's a local issue, but it's also a national issue," said Cash.

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