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  • 9

    Marriage Proposition
    Issues; Posted on: 2008-11-14 10:42:39 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Traditionalists won in California, but the tide may turn against them in the end.

    By Michael Brendan Dougherty

    In a clip played endlessly on their televisions this fall, Californians saw San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom swaying behind a podium at a pro-same-sex-marriage rally. Biting his lip and lifting his hands into the air, Newsom announced in an emotive staccato, “As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation. It’s inevitable. This door’s wide open now.” He flashed a reptilian smile before finishing, “It’s going to happen—whether you like it or not.” Under the headline “Tragedy,” pro-gay-marriage journalist Benjamin Wachs wrote that Newsom’s tone, “manages to cross an old-style revivalist preacher with an angry Jewish mother, [and] has turned voters who were willing to believe that gay marriage is about love into voters who are now convinced that it’s about ‘who’s-in-charge-here.’” The scene made Newsom the unwitting star of the successful campaign to overturn California’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

    This wasn’t the first time Newsom has inadvertently helped the cause of traditional marriage. His unilateral attempt to legalize gay marriage in San Francisco in 2004 helped energize social conservatives nationwide. That year, when exit polls showed voters prioritizing “moral values” over even terrorism or the economy, 11 states voted to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Most of these measures passed with large majorities. Gary Bauer, surveying the damage voters had done to the cause of same-sex marriage, declared it “the year of the values voter.”

    Superficially, 2008 seems like a similar success for social conservatives. Following the passage of marriage amendments in Arizona and Florida, as well as California, Maggie Gallagher wrote at National Review Online, “when it comes to marriage, there is no such thing as a blue state or a red state. Americans support marriage as the union of husband and wife.” But a closer look at the election results and the legal developments in the past year suggests that 2008 is in fact the year the marriage debate tipped in favor of same-sex marriage.

    Only Arizona passed its traditional marriage initiative by 2004-like margins. While only 38 percent voted against the Florida initiative, the measure passed the required 60-percent threshold by just 2 points. In California, Proposition 8 passed by a bare 52 percent of the vote, and exit polls seem to attribute its success to an abnormally high turnout of socially conservative black voters. In Connecticut, voters had the chance to resist their state’s pro-gay-marriage Supreme Court decision, Kerrigan v. Public Health, by voting for a constitutional convention. That initiative failed by 20 points.

    The events in California and Connecticut present new legal challenges to social conservatives.

    News Source: amconmag

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