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Social Issues Still Count!
By Harry R. Jackson, Jr.
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November 9,2009

Last week was a milestone in modern American political history. The election results (New

Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races) and the battle over healthcare show that the

nation’s interest in social issues has not waned. New coalitions are forming around the

pivotal legislative concerns of our day. From my vantage point, I am noticing a passion

among individual citizens to engage in the political process - whether the topic is the

economy, healthcare, or gay marriage. The average citizen not only wants to express their

opinion, but also has become savvy in engaging the powers that be. The insight of these new

activists is shown in their ability to organize and get results. Over 20,000 people came to

DC last week to voice their concerns about healthcare.

On Tuesday, I was personally focused on the battle for marriage in Maine. It’s old news that

heterosexual marriage proponents were outspent by their adversaries who sent thousands of

volunteers to wage “political war” in the tiny state. Considered intensely liberal and the

most likely place where same-sex marriage advocates had a chance of winning, the nation was

shocked at the resounding defeat of gay marriage advocates.

Like California, Maine upheld the common sense definition of marriage after same-sex

“marriage” was forced into law against the will of its people. The vote on Question 1 upheld

marriage by the exact same margin as the vote on Proposition 8 (5 full percentage points),

even though the pro-marriage campaign in Maine was outspent by millions.

The victory of traditional marriage proponents was very convincing with success in 75% of

Maine’s counties (12 of 16). More Maine residents voted for marriage (266,000+) than voted

for Governor Baldacci (209,927) when he got elected in 2006. Importantly, in the state

capital of Augusta, the definition of marriage was upheld by marriage advocates (53% to

46%).

The press repeatedly asked me what the implications were of the Maine marriage victory.

First of all, the victory shows that the gay marriage activist projection of inevitability

is false. The inevitability argument has been levied so that marriage defenders would

quietly give up. Further, the inevitability argument has given many legislators “cover,” as

they vehemently oppose the will of the people. State senators or city council members often

have been led to believe that someday their stand will be seen as heroic instead of socially

destructive. If the inevitability argument were correct, there would be no political

consequences to voting based on pressure from powerful, well-financed gay marriage

activists.

Fortunately for the nation, same-sex marriage is not a done deal. The concept is not gaining

real ground among the common people. The famed Pew Research Center made the following

observation last month, “An August 2009 ... survey finds that 53% oppose allowing gays and

lesbians to marry legally, compared with 39% who support same-sex marriage, numbers that are

virtually unchanged over the past year.”

The fact that the nation has not changed its mind about same-sex marriage during the last

year is very revealing. Same-sex marriage advocates have made a lot of headway during the

last few years in convincing a small number of powerfully positioned judges and legislators

that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue. Their arguments among the elite have been

effective, while the average citizen is not willing to endorse changing the institution of

marriage as an expression of civil rights. 

This is especially obvious when one considers the history of the Maine same-sex marriage

advocacy efforts. Legalization of same-sex marriage has been intensely pursued for at least

five years in this state that is bordered by Canada and Massachusetts, both who have

legalized same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage foot soldiers put everything they had into

their effort - they developed 20 field offices manned by 30 paid staffers and raised

substantially more money than traditional marriage advocates. Their efforts were supported

by both national and local grassroots support. The pro same-sex marriage team was

sophisticated and well trained. The hallmark of their sophistication was that they recruited

an elaborate network of phone volunteers that interacted with Maine citizens, thinking that

a personal “sales call” would close the deal. Despite the time, money, and energy spent,

Maine residents did not buy the marriage pitch. Ironically, exactly the same percentage

number of voters opposed same-sex marriage in Maine as the national research said opposed it

- 53%.

Specifically, what does this mean for the DC struggle concerning marriage? It’s no secret

that the city council has vowed to act without consulting the citizens.  Their reasoning is

simple. They have read the same polls everyone else has, yet they are so beholding to gay

marriage lobbyists that they must make this issue their most pressing policy concern…more

pressing than healthcare, the economy, the horrible disorganization of DC public schools and

a host of other ills that plague the nation’s capital. The council realizes that if a vote

on same-sex marriage will not fly in Maine with its predominately white, liberal residents,

there is no chance for it to prosper in the District of Columbia where 56% of its citizens

are black.

In the near term, gay activists have already started attacking President Obama because he

did not come to their aid in Maine. This is an unwise move because of the president’s

openness to the civil rights claims of gays. Further, it was their strategy that failed in

Maine and no one else is to blame.

The pro traditional marriage groups in DC are encouraged by the grassroots efforts which

have led to reversing a bad law that was passed by an out-of-control group of legislators.

They will undoubtedly attempt to increase voter registration in the District, recalling

willful council members, and electing new political leaders. Pro marriage groups in DC,

under the banner of  Stand4MarriageDC.com, have already built one the strongest, most

diverse religious coalitions in the city’s history. Last summer a large number of secular

and community leaders also awakened to the call to stop the advance of same-sex marriage.

It may take a year or so, but there will be a vote to recognize only marriages between a man

and a woman in Washington, DC. When that vote occurs the people will reject same-sex

marriage - once and for all.

 


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