Why Each State is Important
September 9th, 2008
There are three anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment propositions on ballots in the upcoming election.
Arizona has the distinct privilege of being the only state to date that has rejected efforts to instill anti-gay marriage discrimination into its constitution. Anti-gays have claimed that the only reason for their failure was because their last attempt in 2006 also sought to ban other forms of partner recognition and are now offering a “more benign” amendment that only bans same-sex marriage.
The Arizona battle is of tremendous importance.
If anti-gays win in Arizona, this will send a message that persistence pays off. And then future states (like Florida, if we win there) can expect that they will be back each election with an increasingly “nuanced” amendment until they win. But if Arizona rejects Proposition 102, the financial backers of anti-gay marriage amendments will be a bit more reluctant to throw their money into losing efforts.
This state has the unique opportunity to tell anti-gay organizers that “no” means “no” and not to come back for more.
California is only one of two states which offer marriage certificates to same-sex couples. California is also by a significant margin the state with the largest population. And California is often considered a leader in social progress and a setter of trends.
Considering the sheer number of gay families impacted by Proposition 8, and the importance of the state as a leader, the California battle is of tremendous importance.
And this importance is not lost on anti-gays. As Donald Wildman, head of the American Family Association said,
If we lose California, if they defeat the marriage amendment, I’m afraid that the culture war is over and Christians have lost.
Hyperbole aside, this is the first time that voters have been voting specifically on marriage itself, rather than on the threat of possible marriage. If Californians vote to keep their same-sex marriages legal, it removes the claims by anti-gays that it is judicial activists and gerrymandered legislatures that are forcefully redefining marriage against the wishes of the populace.
According to the latest polls, voters seem to oppose the proposition and do not appear to be swayed by the efforts of the supporters. But the vote is very very close and no one can predict the outcome.
The anti-marriage amendment in Florida appears – to me – to receive the least attention of the three, especially on this website. Part of that is because I live in California and Jim Burroway lives in Arizona and so these two states are the focus of our attentions.
Yet the Florida battle is of tremendous importance.
Of the three, only Florida’s amendment would ban civil unions and domestic partnerships. Florida’s Proposition 2 reads
In as much as a marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.
Those who oppose this amendment have an advantage; a constitutional amendment in Florida requires a 60% majority of those voting. Further, because Florida has a large retirement community and because this amendment would impact heterosexual senior citizens who use local domestic partnership arrangements to establish protections without endangering social security benefits, the opposition to this amendment has broader appeal.
The most recent polling shows that the proposition is favored by more than half of the voters (55%), but not by enough to pass. Additionally, it appears to be trending towards those who oppose the amendment. But again, this is far too close for comfort.
Florida is a swing state in the presidential election and turnout could depend on the direction and extent to which the state trends in the next two months. And while it is unlikely that either Obama or McCain will seek to tie their campaign to the success or failure of this amendment, it’s difficult to predict the impact of the election. A surge in either black voters or newly-energized evangelicals could provide those who oppose our lives with additional votes.
Collectively, we have the opportunity to send a very strong message this year. Should we win in all three states we will be able to state that those who experience same-sex marriages within their communities have found them to be no threat, that anti-marriage efforts will not win you election in a swing state, and that coming back to a state that has rejected discrimination is a waste of time and money.
So here is a question for our readers: is this issue as important to you as a new pair of shoes? Does it matter as much as that luxury you may be allowing yourself, whether it’s a new car or just dinner out at McDonalds?
Most of us do have some expendable income and even those of us who live very close to the edge can often make sacrifices if the cause is important enough.
This is the most you will ever see me act like a political or religious fundraiser. But I’m willing to sound like Pat Robertson if it will encourage you to take the next step.
Please link below to the state of your choosing and make a contribution today.