Why Each State is Important

Timothy Kincaid

September 9th, 2008

There are three anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment propositions on ballots in the upcoming election.

ARIZONA

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

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.

FLORIDA

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.

The Importance

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.

Arizona: No on Prop 102

California: No on Prop 8

Florida: No on Prop 2

Jason D

September 9th, 2008

I just contributed to the Florida campaign, $25. The most I can do right now. I just got a new job and they’re paying me substantially less than my last job. I chose the one that seemed to be getting the least amount of attention.

I’ve shared this article on facebook and I’m about to twitter it, too.

AJD

September 9th, 2008

I hate to sound pessimistic, but it’s important to remember that even if we win against all three of these propositions, a majority of states still have gay-marriage bans in their constitutions, and the only way to get rid of them will be to pass amendments that cancel them (unlikely) or get the Supreme Court to declare them unconstitutional (unlikely in the near future) or amend the U.S. Constitution to protect same-sex marriage (very unlikely).

The big issue here isn’t just gay marriage, discrimination or abortion — it’s the extent to which we’re willing to let the Christian Taliban interfere with our personal lives.

I think we have a lot of potential allies we’re neglecting, including church-state separation activists and even a lot of libertarians and Goldwater conservatives.

The people who support these bans need to be told that a) not one argument in favor of them has any merit whatsoever and b) they need to learn the ancient words of wisdom: “Mind your own f—-n’ business and stop trying to mess with my life.”

Paul

September 9th, 2008

Didn’t recent polls show Californians rejecting their amendment by about 54%? Is the Calif. no side well funded? As you say the Fla. amendment needs another 5% to pass. Are they well funded?

I wonder if people think that since Ariz. has defeated such an amendment once they’ll easily do it again. What do polls say?

I’ve heard you say the Ariz. no side is not well funded. If polls say it is an easy win than having unbalanced funding may not be a big deal.

I understand the importance and symbolism of wins in all three states. But do polls show the urgency in unlocking my wallet? Yep, I don’t part with my dollars easily, though when Michigan went through this in 2004 I found the key to my wallet readily.

cowboy

September 9th, 2008

Are there any ads (pro and con) that we can view? What are citizens in these three states seeing on billboards, on TV, etc.? We, who are living outside those states, are not readily seeing the fruits of our contributions.

Suricou Raven

September 9th, 2008

“If we lose California, if they defeat the marriage amendment, I’m afraid that the culture war is over and Christians have lost.”

If he loses California, I am sure he will keep right on campaigning anyway. He will just redefine ‘lost,’ or more likely forget he ever said that.

Jim Burroway

September 9th, 2008

Cowboy, good question.

I can’t speak for Florida or California. But I do know that as of the August filing deadline, opponents to Prop 102 had only raised $8000. As you can imagine, that doesn’t buy any billboards or TV. We have local community allies lined to for radio ads, but we’re still trying to raise money for airtime.

Time is of the essence. None of this happens unless people give generously. The right wing orgs have lined up more than 100 people to give at least $10,000 individually. Unfortunately, we’re not seeing anything close to that level of giving on the anti-prop 102 side.

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