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September 13, 2012

Column #1,620

(first of a two column series)

Same-Sex Marriage on Ballot in Four States

By Mike McManus

            In May President Obama told ABC “I think that same-sex couples should be able to get married.”  I stuck my neck out and predicted, “Barack Obama made himself a one-term president” by taking that stand.

            The day before he spoke, North Carolina became the 32nd consecutive state to vote down same-sex marriage, and it did so by a thumping 22 percent, partly due to strong black opposition. 

            Every state allowing men to marry men, or women, women – did so as a result of a law passed by the legislature or by court decision. Whenever the public could vote on the issue, same-sex marriage was defeated – even in liberal California where Prop 8 limiting marriage to a man and a woman passed 53-47 in 2008 when Obama defeated McCain overwhelmingly.

Maine’s Legislature voted for same-sex marriage in 2009, but it was overturned in a referendum in 2010.  Furthermore, two dozen legislators who voted for it, were defeated and Republicans took over state government. 

Now the issue is up for referenda in four states: Maine again, Minnesota, Maryland and Washington State.  Polls in three of four states are pro-gay by big margins: Maine by 55% to 36%; Washington’s support for same-sex marriage has soared from 50% to 43% in the summer to 56%-38% recently. Similarly, Maryland support shot up from 49%-47% to 54% to 40%.

The state legislatures in Washington and Maryland voted for same-sex marriage, indicating they are as liberal as such states with gay marriage as Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Vermont (and Washington DC).

Could 2012 be the year of gay marriage victories?

I’ll stick my neck out again and predict none will pass.

First, the latest Minnesota poll shows 52% oppose gay marriage vs. 37% in favor. 

Second, most polls favored gay unions before the vote – but were defeated in the only poll that matters, at the ballot box, in all 32 states.

Gays were confident of a California victory, for example.  However, the National Organization for Marriage funded ads on African-American stations, opposing same-sex marriage.  Blacks supported Prop 8 while overwhelmingly backing the first black president. 

Third, this has become a major issue between the political parties.  The Democratic Party Platform now supports same-sex marriage. The Republican Platform attacked the “court-ordered redefinition of marriage” in such states as Iowa and Massachusetts. (All three Iowa Supreme Court Justices voting for gay marriage who were up for re-election – were defeated.)

The Republican platform called it “an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children….We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Given the public’s support for that provision in 32 states, it is likely to be a motivator for conservatives to turn out, voting against the proposals in all four states.

Fourth, the Catholic Church has made this a major issue. In Minnesota Archbishop John Nienstedt issued a pastoral letter read from most pulpits in which he said, “Our effort to support God’s unchanging plan for marriage is not a campaign against anyone, but rather a positive effort to promote the truth about marriage as a union of a man and a woman.” Catholics donated $1 million for the fight. 

The Archbishop of Baltimore is taking a similar stand, and the Knights of Columbus have donated $100,000 so far with more to come. Catholics are 41% of church-goers. Derek McCoy, who leads the Maryland Marriage Alliance, plans to spend $1.5 million per week on ad buys. 

In the first Maine referendum, Catholic Bishop Richard Malone was the most outspoken supporter of traditional marriage and asked parishes for a second collection that raised $500,000 for the fight. 


Curiously, however, he has “chosen not to engage in this year’s campaign” says Carroll Conley, Executive Director of Christian Civic League of Maine that is leading the battle to repeal the Legislature’s vote. They are quietly educating Catholics on the importance of traditional marriage, and Catholics are 61% of church-goers.

However, Catholics will have no second collection this year. That will hurt.  Conley says the other side has raised $2-$3 million, while he has only $140,000 contributed thus far.

“We believe that mom and dad both matter,” he said. “If we redefine marriage we will guarantee that children will be without either a mother or father.  They will suffer.”

Anglican Bishop John Guernsey adds, “If we lose traditional marriage, religious liberty will be lost along with it.” More on that in next week’s column.

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