Skip to comments.Gay-marriage divide cuts across party, racial lines in U.S.
Posted on 10/10/2004 3:19:56 PM PDT by schaketo
SAN FRANCISCO - The biggest social issue in this presidential race is the debate over whether gays should be allowed to marry.
Louisiana voters recently tilted 4-to-1 in favor of adding a ban on same-sex marriage to their state constitution, and 71 percent of Missouri voters did the same last month.
Voters in at least nine more states will weigh the question on their ballots in November, and legislation on the question has been introduced in at least 25 states this year.
President Bush supports amending the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the Democratic presidential nominee, doesn't support gay marriage, but he also doesn't favor amending the Constitution to outlaw it.
He thinks states should be free to recognize same-sex civil unions. (Vice President Dick Cheney also has said that he thinks the issue should be left to the states to decide, although he says he defers to the president's position on the issue.)
It's unlikely that concerns about gay marriage run deep enough to swing the presidential election. Rather, most analysts think the election will hinge on a host of issues, including the war in Iraq, the economy and which candidate voters are most comfortable with.
Nevertheless, the issue of gay marriage could motivate voter turnout, particularly in such swing states as Arkansas and Oregon, which have proposals to ban gay marriage on their ballots in November. And as the results from Missouri and Louisiana show, the anti-gay marriage vote is so overwhelming that it could help Republicans overall by drawing more pro-Republican voters to the polls.
"If it is close, anything can matter, and this could matter to some people," said Gary Mucciaroni, a professor of political science at Temple University in Philadelphia.
The gay marriage issue resonates deeply because it challenges a fundamental institution -- marriage. Polls show that Americans believe in equal rights for all citizens, but remain conflicted on whether they want to include same-sex marriage in that equation.
"We're uncomfortable with the idea of challenge to traditional institutions like marriage," said Craig Rimmerman, a professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. "People are simply uncomfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage. It's a hot-button issue."
Allowing gays to marry implies that "gay relationships are as good as heterosexual relationships," Mucciaroni said. "For a lot of folks that's not the case."
Lou Sheldon, of the Traditional Values Coalition, a lobby made up of more than 43,000 churches, puts it another way.
"The marriage issue is related to a five-letter word: It's called child," he said. "When you put children into the mix, you get a mama-bear reaction."
The debate is fueling a burst of activism on both sides of the issue.
The anti-gay marriage Traditional Values Coalition and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which favors it, each report that donations are pouring in. Many people are volunteering to register like-minded voters and host house parties to underscore the importance of voting in November.
In 2000, the Traditional Values Coalition struggled to rally its churches to get involved in the election.
"It was a drought, it was dry, it was like pulling an oxcart by hand," Sheldon said. "Now I can't keep up with those who've called."
Kate Kendell, the executive director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said the gay community is no different from other voters in holding strong concerns about the war in Iraq, health care and terrorism, but Bush's support of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is galvanizing them.
"I truly have never seen a more unified nor deeply motivated response in the gay community before," she said. "There were, perhaps, gay or progressive voters who saw Bush as somewhat more benign until his explicit support for a constitutional amendment, and I do know that for some people, that did solidify their opposition."
Steven Fisher, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-gay rights group, said it's not just gays and lesbians who are responding, it's also their friends and families.
"They see this (the drive for a constitutional amendment) as an effort to hurt their friends and family members," Fisher said. "Because of this attack we're seeing Republican families not voting for Bush."
The debate over gay marriage cuts across party and racial lines.
"Polls show that a majority of American oppose gay marriage, so these aren't all Republicans," Mucciaroni said. "It's also an issue that splits African-Americans."
Political scientists say that with gay marriage, Republicans have found an issue that energizes their base but doesn't turn off those who remain undecided about how they'll vote on Nov. 2. And Republicans have been able to frame the debate in a way that's not an attack on individuals, but a defense of traditional marriage.
The courts, too, have become a target for criticism by gay-marriage opponents, who blame "activist judges" for overstepping their bounds by permitting same-sex unions.
"Both sides are trying to focus on an issue that will motivate their voters to get out," said
Funny how they went silent right before the election...
I don't think a constitutional ban on gay marriags is necessary or desirable. The underlying concept of the American constitution is to protect the individual from the state/government. And this proposed ban is actually a direct restriction on individual rights. In any case, this whole situation is not worrying me too much because I am more concerned about foreign policy and the economy.
Notice how when it's a left-wing issue the right is way ahead on in public opinion, its a "divide." If it's something liberals even come close in the poll numbers regarding, its considered what the people want.
Constitutional amendment or not our Nine Black Robes on the High Court will have the final say on what is or isn't constitutional - and the people be damned.
These Black Robed oligarchs have already given us murder in the womb, and found a right to sodomy why should anything like a constitutional amendment stop them?
Get the government OUT of marriage! I'm sick of hearing all brands of rabid extremists fighting about how the government has to do marriage THEIR way. Set up your personal life however your personal beliefs and tastes dictate. If you're a free citizen, you don't need a license from the government.
No restrictions at all. They are free to do whatever they want. The fact that the state does not recognize their union is certainly not a god-given right. The real criminals forcing this issue is the court system which has usurped the power of the legistlature and the will of the people.
And that line about people being for equal rights but don't know if they want to include marriage in that....PLEASE!!! That sure reveals the reporters opinion. Everyone has a right to participate in marriage by its legal definition. Gays can vote. They have just been unable to elect majorities in most legislatures enough to get passed what they want to get passed, so they sue for what they want. Power hungry liberal judges are happy to help. That's the problem.
More like a mouse in the room.
A truly enormous number of Republicans really couldn't care less about the issue (and no, they're not all RINOs, either.) FR is not quite an accurate cross-section of the Republican Party as a whole in this country.
You need to find a country that has a libertarian foundation then instead of one that was founded under God.
Divide? What divide? So 80% are against gay marraige (and rightly so) and its a divide? You could hardly find another one sided issue?
This country DOES have a libertarian foundation, and it was founded with explicit emphasis on religious liberty. It's scary when "conservatives" start thinking that the government is supposed to control our personal lives, in some sort of massive social engineering project.
Gays can marry, but they have no right to force public approval of something the vast majority of the public finds repulsive. Like Cheney said, forming a relationship is one thing, getting public approval is another.
What about protecting our form of government? Do we want government by the people or government by a few black-robed rulers? Have you read the proposed amendment? What it does is simply forbid the courts from deciding the issue. States can still legalize gay marriage, only by another name, if they so choose. They can also completely ban it in their state constitutions. It's up to the PEOPLE of the states, not the courts. That's all the federal amendment does. It guards the people against activist judges.
Frankly, what I find repulsive is the whole concept of government approval of people's personal relationships.
What's wrong with this picture in our societal culture today? We have Heterosexuals wanting to shack up and Homosexuals wanting to marry. Am I missing something here?
And here we can have a great philosophical debate: The USA is not a democracy. It's a Republic! And in a Republic individual rights are protected from the "will of the people". In a Democracy 51% of the population can restrict the rights of 49% of the population.
I agree with you on the fact, that certain Courts have usurped power from both, the executive and legislative powers.
Homosexual Agenda Ping.
A. The media should quit using the word "gay". That is street propaganda language.
B. The media should quit saying "banning" gay marriage. There is currently (and never has been) same sex marriage. How does one ban something that doesn't exist?
Yet more examples of prop-speak being used as normal language. Immediately conservatives are put in the corner. I refuse to use the word "gay" for homosexual. I'm even bowing to politeness to use the word "homosexual" which was also invented by a homosexual to create a special community of fellow pederasts and same sex sodomy afficiandos.
Additionally, most homosexuals have no intention of every marrying. It is merely a political ploy for power. If anyone doubts this, ping me and I'll trot out my list of quotes about "gay" marriage by noted homosexual spokespeople.
Let me and Scripter know if anyone wants on/off this pinglist.
So just exactly where would you draw a moral line, if ever?!?
Gays can have any perverted relationship they want to have (except if it's for money). They are not owed public recognition and approval.
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