Democrats & Liberals Archives

Gay Marriage: The Dulling Of A Wedge Issue?

A straight friend recently quipped in response to a TV news segment, that the forth-coming Gay Marriage boom in Massachusetts would be ‘good for Bush’. ‘Uh, hmm…I don’t know about that’, I replied. What favors his argument is the possibility that 15 Gay Marriage initiatives may be on state ballots in November (less, if a Dem controlled legislature and Terry McCauliffe, have their way). Tentative states include battlegrounds Missouri and Ohio, already daunting tasks to wrestle away from Bush’s 2000 election column.

Its been reported that posed questions and the thought of images soon to be broadcasted from John Kerry’s backyard, are met with grim expressions and a reluctance to comment, from the candidate and his staff. But, what may be more surprising is that a similar response can be found over at Bush/Cheney ’04 and the RNC.

This may be difficult to believe, or you may not have noticed the news accounts, but support for civil unions has increased! Although there remains a clear majority oppose to Gay Marriage, across the board on all gay matters, Americans are continuing to moderate their views. Here is a snapshot from the most recent Zogby Poll:

Q. “The state of Massachusetts now allows gays and lesbians to marry and receive marriage benefits. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree that this law should be reversed by passing an amendment to the United States Constitution that grants marriage only to unions between a man and a woman?”

Fifty-one percent of voters agreed that a constitutional amendment should be passed that grants marriage only to unions between a man and a woman while 43% of voters disagreed. Daily and weekly churchgoers strongly supported a constitutional amendment to grant marriage only to unions between a man and a woman by margins of 65% to 34% and 60% to 33% respectively. Current military members, by a margin of 59% to 36% agreed that a constitutional amendment was necessary, as did veterans who feel the same by a margin of 54% to 42%. Sixty-two% of gun owners favor a constitutional amendment while 34% of gun owners disagree. Investors in the stock market and in 401-K retirement plans and non-investors, by margins of 53% to 43% and 51% to 43% respectively, think a constitutional amendment is necessary. Fifty-three percent of NASCAR, high school sports and little league sports fans agreed that a constitutional amendment is necessary while 45% disagreed. Non-NASCAR fans also agreed that a constitutional amendment is necessary by a 50% to 44% margin.

While researching this commentary, I stumbled across a polling website that substantively supports my argument. Polling and Civil Rights provides data from prominent polls on gay marriage and other related gay and lesbian issues, from as far back as 1989. Comparatively, polls on the Gay Marriage issues reflect a slow, but consistent decrease in opposition, undoubtedly due to what may be just a lull or respite between unrelenting, media-driven/ratings boosting, hysteria.

You might mistake me for Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe (R) for saying that the impact of this (rightfully) third tier issue, depends on the conduct of the media (more so, broadcast news, local and cable) by the number, importance to viewers and consistency in hot topics able to supply content, 24/7, thru to November. To a lesser extent, the boys at RoveVision would be wise to monitor the antics of the Social Conservatives (James Dobson), and their elected counter-parts (Rick Santorum), for the Springer Effect (when your unseemly occupation or cause, overshadows your agenda).

As I’ve stated before, I do not oppose Gay Marriage, I in turn support Civil Unions. The fact that the Democratic Presidential nominee also supports my position is an enormous victory of pivotal importance, yet ignored, in the stamped towards the prize. The events of San Francisco, Massachusetts and New Paltz, N.Y., are not the result of well organized, radical gay/lesbian advocacy groups, but the simple exercise of gender-neutral marriage laws enacted in the spirit of our founders, and unwittingly, untainted by the ignorance and homophobia of lawmakers who disgrace the framers of our Constitution, of whom they follow.

In the coming weeks, I am anxious to see how those happy and joyous images from Massachusetts impact public opinion, and the reception given those bitter detractors sure to be offered plenty air time. A telling fact already lost in the controversy, is the penalty New Paltz Mayor Jason West faces for violating New York state law. The violation is equal to a driver caught exceeding a posted 40 mph speed limit, by at least 20 mph.

On ABC News, some unknown prominent Gay advocacy leader proclaimed, ‘…this is the greatest victory in gay/lesbian history!’ I could not disagree more. It should have been a hard fought battle won in an ongoing struggle.

Frederick Douglas once said, ‘there is no progress, without struggle’.

How whole is our progress, when there are struggles left to be won?

Posted by Bert M. Caradine at May 18, 2004 12:58 AM