Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Ballot Of The Intolerant Initiative

A blogger pal was not quite prepared for my version of the Spanish Inquisition, when I peppered him with questions after his post, Gone Mild: Missouri Gay Marriage Issue on August Ballot - Good for the World. He is a very proud Missourian, yet as you will observe from the hate comments he received, it takes guts to post this sort of opinion even on one’s own weblog homepage.

The response he posted, Gone Mild: Gay Marriage in Missouri received high marks for concise answers to my queries, and obvious added research. He also offers his personal observations at this juncture, which only resulted in an additional homework assignment from yours truly.

I can only defer, to respectfully request comments from Californians reading this entry as to how the pros and cons of a ballot initiative campaign plays out. For it was this key aspect of the unfolding controversy that prompted me to write this entry, as I am now convinced that the outcome is as assured as, what many first predicted would be the result of the NBA Finals.

If the predicted backlash by social Conservatives like Pat Buchanan had ever materialized in the wake of legalized ceremonies in Massachusetts, then the allocution of charges against New Paltz, N.Y. Mayor Jason West would’ve been just the thing to further energize their movement. Although, Mayor West may have avoided any penalty for his law breaking, he is barred from conducting future gay civil ceremonies under orders from a separate judge’s decision. However, that has not stopped the Deputy Mayor and a Village trustee from now presiding over new ceremonies.

It is not automatic to assume the primary players in this political drama are set in Missouri, because it is not being played out on the national stage. Yet, neither is it automaticly assumed to even a savvy native Missourian that the primary players in this saga are a direct result of the continued taboo surrounding this social issue concerning gays and lesbians thrust center stage into mainstream politics.

The manner in which this delicate, hot button issue is handled by both Democratic and Republican politicians throughout the state, will undoubtedly remind some gays and lesbians of the process of ‘coming out’ to their family and friends. As similarly, the voter’s reaction to their legislator’s position will, for certain, affect their relationship from this point forward.

Will any prominent national organizations make their presence known? How much money will be committed, and how many ‘true believers’ will volunteer their time? Count on most editorial pages throughout the state to take a strong stand on the issue. But, will state leaders go further than simply issuing a press statement?

I keep coming back to how a blog pal keenly described the opposition to Gay Marriage. He described it as a pool of water - a mile wide – but, only a half inch deep.

Conservative radio will serve as campaign headquarters for the army of Pat Buchanan/American Family Council-type followers, hoping to mobilize those willing to exercise a solemn act of civic duty and pride, in order to deny to those deemed inferior a legal recognition which most are dumfounded they would fight so passionately for.

However, will members of the Missouri Democratic Party, energized by the Howard Dean candidacy, followed by significant registrants added to their voter rolls embrace this, not only as a worthy cause, but recognize it as a test of their strength?

In the midst of the Democratic Presidential Primary campaign, you may have missed a Newsweek photo caption, accompanied by a brief article. The picture shows the senior Congressman from Missouri Dick Gephardt posing with his family, with a Washington monument and the Potomac River as a backdrop. Noted in the article, is the presence of the non-family member at the end, with her arm around the Congressman’s daughter, Chrissy.

The voters of Missouri need look no further than the revered leadership of native son Dick Gephardt, that has served them so well for nearly three decades. For he has a personal story of discovery, acceptance and empowerment, that should be taken into account before going to the polls in August.

Posted by Bert M. Caradine at June 20, 2004 4:20 PM