The Politics Of Gay Marriage

I am adamantly opposed to gay marriage and I’ll be going into detail about my position on the subject in an editorial that’ll be released on Thursday. But today, I want to talk about the politics of the Gay Marriage Amendment that Bush is now publicly supporting.

There are more than a few earnest, knowledgable, rightward leaning bloggers, who’ll tell you that the President is making a political mistake to back a Constitutional Amendment that preserves the sanctity of marriage. They usually base that contention on polls that show the country is roughly divided on the topic of a Constitutional Amendment, anecdotal evidence that comes from left leaning/Libertarian blogs & emails, and posts from the relatively small number of prominent conservatives who oppose an Amendment (for the moment at least).

However, as I said back in July of 2003, this is a good issue for W. to take on. But, how can it be if the polls are split on the issue? Well, the polls ARE NOT split on gay marriage. The voters are against it by a wide margin. In most polls I’ve seen on the subject lately, Americans come down against gay marriage almost 2 to 1. Furthermore, not only do the voters who are against gay marriage tend to be older and more likely to vote, I feel confident that on the whole, they are much more passionate about the issue than those who favor gay marriage. That’s why even in perhaps the most liberal state in the nation, California, “61% of (the) voters…supported Proposition 22, a ballot initiative in 2000 that said the state would recognize marriage only between a man and a woman as valid.” I can tell you with confidence that I don’t believe that there is a single state where Bush will be hurt more than he is helped by strongly coming out against gay marriage.

Furthermore, now that we have two clear examples, in Massachusetts and San Francisco, of radical gay activists &/or liberal judges running roughshod over the will of the voters, I think the case for a Constitutional Amendment just got much, much stronger. And if the choice is between having gay marriage imposed on states by activist judges or having the Federal govt block it via Constitutional Amendment, and it is, then the latter is a better option and much more in line with what the American people want.

Last but not least, this issue is going to energize the GOP base while weakening Kerry.

The overwhelming majority of Republicans oppose gay marriage and social conservatives and Evangelicals in particular find this to be a hot button issue. So if Bush needed a way to help fire up the base without alienating a significant number of moderates, this is it.

On the other hand, as per usual, Kerry is stuck trying to play to both sides of the issue. He says he’s against gay marriage and believes “marriage is between a man and a woman,” but he doesn’t back a Constitutional Amendment and is criticizing Bush for going that way. That’s going to be a tough position to maintain long-term because the overwhelming majority of people who are militantly pro-gay marriage are on the left and Ralph Nader, who Kerry has to worry about siphoning off his voters, supports gay marriage. Yet Kerry doesn’t want to alienate the majority of voters who are opposed to gay marriage. So Kerry will need to rabidly attack the people who are fighting against gay marriage to please his base even as he portrays himself as against gay marriage to the general populace. Trying to thread that needle is going to be very difficult for Kerry and I suspect he is going to end up looking very conflicted, evasive, and hypocritical, as he attempts to pull it off.

In any case, I applaud President Bush for doing the right thing and I certainly hope and expect for him to reap the political benefits of doing so.

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