Wednesday, December 4, 2013
AUGUSTA - Matt and Megan Hutson fell in love with Maine earlier this year while working for Bruce Poliquin during the Republican U.S. Senate primary.
The Rev. Sue Gabrielson and Matt McTighe at their Mainers United for Marriage headquarters in Portland on Friday.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
Megan Hutson is grass-roots coordinator for Protect Marriage Maine, and husband Matt is campaign director. The newlyweds feel marriage is “under attack ... and we wanted to stand up for it,” Megan said.
When they had the chance to come back this fall to work for Protect Marriage Maine, they jumped at it.
"I'm very selective in who I want to work with," said Matt, 32, who has worked on candidate campaigns across the country. "If the candidate or issue doesn't line up with what I personally believe in, I can't be the guy. My conscience wants me to work for people I philosophically and morally agree with on the issues. And then you have the added benefit that it's Maine."
The Hutsons and their counterparts at Mainers United For Marriage are part of a small group of key staff members on both sides of the Nov. 6 same-sex marriage referendum.
Most of them will be anonymous, operating behind the scenes. But they'll play influential roles in shaping strategy and managing the day-to-day execution of a battle that will draw national attention and millions of dollars in contributions on both sides of the issue.
Matt Hutson was recently named campaign director for Protect Marriage Maine, the leading opponents to same-sex marriage. His wife, Megan, 22, serves as grass-roots coordinator.
They are two members of a six-person team primarily responsible for the campaign. Others working with them include Frank Schubert and Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, and Carroll Conley and Bob Emrich of the Christian Civic League of Maine.
On the other side, Matt McTighe, campaign director for Mainers United for Marriage, gets direction from an executive committee. Assisting him are several key staffers, including the Rev. Sue Gabrielson, as director of faith outreach, and Beth Allen, regional field director in Bangor.
While they represent opposite sides of the issue, all those involved with the campaigns have interesting personal stories to tell.
Megan and Matt Hutson
Reaching the voters
Megan Hutson, 22, was born and raised in southern Louisiana and was home-schooled. As part of that experience, she worked on dozens of campaigns growing up, from local races all the way up to governor.
She attended Louisiana College and Louisiana Baptist University, where she studied communications. She founded her own photography business at age 18 and enjoys taking photos of families and children.
Megan met Matt when he was working on a congressional race in Louisiana. They married in Louisiana in December.
"Being married eight months ago, obviously we value marriage and believe it's important," she said. "We realize it's kind of under attack right now, and we wanted to stand up for it. And we love Maine."
Matt Hutson, 32, grew up in Oklahoma and is a 2003 graduate of Oklahoma State University. He's worked on congressional races in Maryland, Louisiana, Ohio and New York. He was statewide director for the campaign of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and managed Poliquin's campaign earlier this year. Poliquin finished second in a six-candidate field.
Matt's father was a laborer and his mother was a public school teacher. He learned his work ethic from his father, but realized early on that he wanted to complete his education so he would have a different career path.
As campaign director, Hutson is focused on making sure everyone in the office is on the same page and that voters all hear a consistent message. For the newlyweds, marriage has made them a team, both professionally and personally. They hope to start a family someday.
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Carroll Conley of the Christian Civic League says he hopes to alter the tone of the league’s anti-gay marriage message, making it more compassionate and stressing the role of heterosexual marriage as a good environment in which to raise a family.
Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal
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Beth Allen, a native of Eliot, is part of a push on the part of same-sex marriage proponents to do more outreach to residents of rural Maine.
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The Rev. Bob Emrich, a Baptist minister in Plymouth, also worked on the 2009 effort in Maine to repeal a law that allowed gay marriage.