Gay Marriage Won’t Decide the Presidential Election, but It’s on the Ballot

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Over the weekend, Gov. Jerry Brown made California the first state to ban “conversion therapy” for teens, the same kind of “pray the gay away” therapy that Rep. Michele Bachmann husband’s clinic has been accused of practicing. And the Supreme Court may soon put gay marriage in the national spotlight by hearing cases on the federal law defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and California’s gay marriage ban. But even with all the headlines, will social issues have a big effect on the presidential election? Probably not.

For months, Gallup has asked voters what they think the most important problem facing the country is. The economy consistently tops the charts while “gay rights” has yet to register; in the columns breaking down percentages among the issues, that prompt sports a long, empty row of asterisks. Obama’s gay marriage endorsement pleased voters who support expanded rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans—and probably inspired some big campaign donations–but few of those people would have voted for Mitt Romney anyway, given that he’s tacked right on gay rights issues to allay conservative concerns.

(PHOTOSPolitical Photos of the Week, Sept. 20-27)

The better question is whether ballot initiatives allowing gay marriage will finally succeed this November, now that polls are showing increased support for that cause. So far, that battle hasn’t gone well; while six states and the District of Columbia currently allow gay marriage, the issue has yet to win a referendum in any state. Both Maryland and Washington passed laws allowing same-sex marriage this year, and both may see those laws overturned via ballot initiative before they have a chance to go into effect. Meanwhile, Minnesota voters will decide whether to ban gay marriage by approving a constitutional  amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. And voters in Maine will answer the question: “Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?”

Some gay rights advocates have expressed hope that gay marriage will figure prominently in Wednesday’s debate. The domestic policy face-off would be the place for that question, but moderator Jim Lehrer will be concentrating on those issues that are most important to voters, such as fiscal policy and unemployment. Besides, we know already know the positions of the candidates. But make no mistake: while gay marriage won’t make-or-break the candidates, it will be on the ballot with them in November.

MORE: Special GOP Issue: Party of No

65 comments
bebo
bebo

My late brother, Canadian gay  historian and author had this to say about gay marriage: Marriage: This grand struggle over one word has ever put symbolism over substance, sentiment over sense, "respectability" over true self-respect. What might have been an effort to win legal respect for a range of human relationships was instead made a "gay issue." By gay people themselves -- finding it "strategic" to play oppressed victims. RCB  After the courage displayed during  the AIDS epidemic, gays have rushed to the heterosexual model, and compared themselves to others who fought long and hard for"equality"  This in no way compares to other minorities in this or centuries before.  These groups knew the meaning of discrimination.  The primary difference is that"self-entitlement" has consumed this generation.  They want it all,  damn if the "family" puzzle pieces could claim a few victims, as time passes.

sacredh
sacredh

The country is moving forward. We're not slowing down so that the stragglers can catch up.

bebo
bebo

If it doesn't fit - force it.

sacredh
sacredh

If everyone isn't equal, no one is equal.

TheSkepticalCynic
TheSkepticalCynic

If your marriage is threatened because gays marry. you are in a marriage that has got to be pretty beschissenen.

TheSkepticalCynic
TheSkepticalCynic

If you do not think gay perSons should marry, THEN DON'T MARRY ONE, BUT DON'T ASSUME THAT EVERYONE IS A BIG AN A-HOLE AS YOU.

Mary Waterton
Mary Waterton

"Homosexual marriage" may or may not decide the presidential election, but it will decide certain congressional races. It will unquestionably cost politicians some, but it remains to be seen how much. I point to the New York republicans who voted for "homosexual marriage" and subsequently lost their seats as evidence that it does have an impact. I also point to the 3 liberal democrat activist judges in Iowa who forced "homosexual marriage" on them and were subsequently removed in 2010. Judge Wiggins is likely to follow the other 3 Iowa judges this election. Plenty of other examples to prove that national opposition to  "homosexual marriage" has an decisive impact at the polls.

Andrew Colias
Andrew Colias

Dear Fellow Commentators,

Discrimination is the precept from which arises legality insofar as legality is an exercise in discriminating between legal and illegal, between what is permissible and impermissible. If you reject discrimination, you are undercutting the foundation of law itself. You are also rendering yourself hypocritical for discriminating against discriminators. Justice discriminates against injustice, freedom discriminates against thralldom, good discriminates against evil.

Say it with me, everyone: "I support discrimination."

Sincerely,

Andrew Colias

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

When I ban same sex marriage, I'm letting my discrimination against homosexuality impact other individuals directly

When I permit same sex marriage, I'm letting my discrimination against homophobia indirectly impact individuals - after all, their marriages, rights and way of life are not weakened in any way except that of perception by my permitting of others to live their lives the way they choose

Andrew Colias
Andrew Colias

Well articulated, sir or madame or whatever identifier is now in fashion! However, I riposte that an authority purporting to deserve loyalty because of it being representative directly impacts an individual when it ceases to represent that individual but continues to demand compliance. This is the political conundrum of homosexuals, and because I am discriminatory, I oppose their conundrum being transferred to me...because like those who approve homosexuality, I want only one thing: my way.

Andrew Colias
Andrew Colias

My thanks for your courtesy, sir. I do love prosaic pomposity, as you can plainly see. Now with your permission, I must preemptively apologize for such of your riposte as I shall hereafter leave unaddressed, especially because there are several themes which we could follow to the exclusion of the others. Time is pressing, but I dearly wish to proffer some retaliatory observations.

You avow marriage to be a "right". Being merely one among three hundred million Americans, my individual opinions are numerically irrelevant, although my readiness to disseminate them proves how irrelevant to me is their irrelevance. Therefore, I hesitantly agree: marriage is a right. However, in the course of your admirable rhetoric you omitted to say what precisely is marriage. What are its parameters? For example, if marriage is a social union specifically of a male human and a female human, then all other unions are ineligible for the contingent rights thereafter awarded. Alternatively, if marriage is a social union of two humans irrespective of gender, then by restricting this the right to marriage is indeed violated. Perceived justice or injustice manifest in promoting either definition is thereby dependent on which is perceived to be correct. But to whom is delegated authority to determine which is correct?

Apparently, popular referendum is an ineligible authority. Consider for example the existence of the Supreme Court and its historic and present role as arbiter of legality. I am, however, unconvinced that relegating this decision to the Supreme Court is consistent with its role...which I am given to understand is this: to discriminate between legality and illegality, between what is and what is not consistent with the political precepts expressed the Constitution.

You see, marriage is a social institution, wherefore its existence is codependent on its interrelation with society. Any two or more persons can live, love and lust together, but their identity as a unit within a larger community derives not from themselves but from communal recognition. This is to say by crudely paraphrasing an aphorism, "Marriage is in the eye of the beholder." Unfortunately, this is an exercise in popular referendum, which the Supreme Court periodically forbids as Unconstitutional. Instead there is a sentiment in this country that I must see what others tell me to see because...apparently it is wrong for me to tell others they must see what I see?

I cannot see that changing what I see does anymore than transfer the angst of another party onto myself, so frankly, I prefer to have my own way.

Whew! Almost two hours to write this! It'd be more efficient for me to just be a demagogue like everyone else, but then again, whenever did I say efficiency was my goal? :P

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Good sir, I do hope you stick around for you are much fun.  Now if you'll indulge me, I will have to delve into the incredibly annoying world of subjectivity.  As such, I will have to address the two rights in reverse order of which we've looked at them thus far.

Let us argue that all happiness is not equal.  The happiness gain from getting a Hershey's Kiss is not the same as the happiness gain from getting a million dollars.  Equally, happiness is not constant - a gift will generally provide more temporary happiness than being able to call someone your wife/husband.

If you will permit, I would suggest that there is greater happiness at an individual level in one receiving the right to be married than for one to see such a right to be denied from another.  I know this is an objectionable statement, but if we consider the question of direct impact upon one's life and the scope of said impact, the scope of impact for any individual to be married is huge for the couple involved while having little or no impact upon those who have not met and do not know the happy couple.  Further, the couple are directly impacted.  On the flip side, the individual who objects to their marriage is offended at the concept and their ability to hold a position of bigotry against others rather than being impacted with a notable change to their quality of life.  With a few exceptions, I doubt this is something they spent notable time ruminating on (strangely, I would expect greater time being spent by a greater percentage of the people about the negative impacts of mixed race relationships than that of homosexual relationships - though this is largely due to the unfortunate stereotypes and stigmas attached with the black community).  Further, as the issue fades into lesser and lesser importance in the mind of society once it is reversed, this happiness hit will become of lesser and lesser value.

Furthermore, the right to marry provides with it considerable secondary benefits that provide even greater happiness.  Rarely do opponents cite these as things to be opposed to.

Now, there is a fundamental flaw with this argument insofar as it is arguing what provides the greater happiness.  What it doesn't answer is the question of the fundamental right which isn't the right to happiness but the right to pursue happiness.  When we focus on this argument, the issue becomes even more lopsided. Why?  Well, marriage can be pursued while being offended at a concept (or being happy that a concept hasn't been enabled) is a state of being.  You can pursue it being kept in its current state and you can pursue it being reverted to its original state, but that pursuit is no different between the two.  Therefore, enabling one to be married provides the opportunity to pursue a happiness that was otherwise not available while not removing any ability for the bigots opposed to pursue their own happiness - it just reduces their happiness.

As for liberty, you are correct that what has been deemed legal and constitutional has consistently changed.  Indeed, it is near certain that even if the current court deems that denial of one's rights to marry is judicially sound, at some future point it will be reversed by said court.

But the question you asked was not about liberty but about constitutionality which is truly the Supreme Court's grounds and is truly the reason why they probably will not do as individuals such as myself hope.  Constitutionality does not fundamentally stand on those three principles for not one appears in the Constitution as it does in the Declaration of Independence. After all, initial interpretations of the constitution fully accepted that slavery, which is fundamentally opposed to the concept of liberty, was acceptable - a fact that I think we'd all agree upon.  But I think we are working our way too far from the philosophical and into the pragmatic so permit me to drag us back to the question of a "just" society, not "this" society and the question of whether bigotry has a place in such a theoretical society - or, for that matter, rights.

Andrew Colias
Andrew Colias

Well said, sir. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are acceptable precepts considering their historic relevance to Federal law. However, for sake of argument, it can be replied that liberty is a subjective thing for American legality, especially considering the precedents where judicial authorities retroactively condemned as Unconstitutional certain things formerly deemed Constitutional. If it is Constitutional for the Supreme Court to determine Constitutionality (which it is), then whereat does this interpretive flexibility become subversive of the Constitution's purportedly uncircumscribed authority? Which is to say, how many ways may the Supreme Court interpret the Constitution differently from preceding generations before it becomes merely another religious clique squabbling over its infallible holy book?

Similarly concerning the pursuit of happiness, cannot we argue that homophobes are hindered in their pursuit of happiness by an inability to propagate their values through the vehicle of state? There are many, perhaps yourself included, who dismiss homophobia's happiness as unimportant. Please tell me, sir, if bigotry is unworthy of accommodation, then how does this intolerance differ in principle from bigotry? I am not the brightest bulb in the bunch; probably because of this, I cannot see anyway but for conflict to be inevitable.

But don't worry. You're winning, and your infallible holy book of Human Rights is ascendent. Of course, my infallible holy book warned me this would happen so I reserve the right to feel smug.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

True, perhaps that does need to be defined in terms of America's constitution.

If we accept as a predicate that the most fundamentally important rights for an individual are the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as postulated by the Declaration of Independence, let us define that justice is the provision or enablement (perhaps enablement is more accurate if they are inalienable) of those three rights to the highest possible degree to the greatest number of people in the society with the society being the people of and under the government specifically founded upon those principles.

Taking that definition into consideration, let me amend my previous statement: when the majority choose a selfish path that remove or restrict one of these three core rights (in this case, liberty and to a lesser degree pursuit of happiness) from being granted to the minority, would it not be the place of an independent body with appropriate powers - say the Supreme Court - to determine whether the discrimination towards the minority constitute a more egregious removal of their fundamental rights and step in on the behalf of those more greatly harmed?

Andrew Colias
Andrew Colias

What is justice and where is it manifest? Similarly, what is society?

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

I accept your argument and postulate a corollary: when the majority choose a selfish path at the expense of the minority, does it not enable a more just society for a purportedly independent body to determine which discrimination is more egregious and step in on the behalf of those more harmed?

dooit
dooit

Most countries just kill queers off.

Perhaps that will be debated as a viable option in America.

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

George, Your times with David, Sam, Cokie, then George were de rigueur for any budding, young politico, back in the day. That was then, this is now. There is more at play than mere national guilt about slavery and all its chains that bond us to our current President. Much more. Women's rights, Gay's rights, the rights of the 47% to name a few. Our country has inextricably moved away from the era you grew up and came of age in: the era when we all Liked Ike, and Father Did Know Best. No George, today's rapidly changing and shrinking global society demands so much more that what Mitt Romney can deliver with his very narrow, and limited world view. Indeed, Romney is the very antithesis of what America needs now: a Global Leader. There is only one clear choice this election cycle. We must and we will elect the Most Qualified President for Our Times. Best regards,

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

George, Your times with David, Sam, Cokie, then George were de rigueur for any budding, young politico, back in the day. That was then, this is now. There is more at play than mere national guilt about slavery and all its chains that bond us to our current President. Much more. Women's rights, Gay's rights, the rights of the 47% to name a few. Our country has inextricably moved away from the era you grew up and came of age in: the era when we all Liked Ike, and Father Did Know Best. No George, today's rapidly changing and shrinking global society demands so much more that what Mitt Romney can deliver with his very narrow, and limited world view. Indeed, Romney is the very antithesis of what America needs now: a Global Leader. There is only one clear choice this election cycle. We must and we will elect the Most Qualified President for Our Times. 

 

Best regards,

DiatribesAndOvations
DiatribesAndOvations

The term "gay marriage" is obsolete.  Same-sex couples seek "marriage equality".  Nobody wants to get "gay married" ... they want the same federal rights as their neighbors.

bebo
bebo

Marriage "equality" is a con job.  Don't  fall for it.

ERenger
ERenger

If the issue comes up in the debate, this would be a good chance for Romney to use the only joke he's ever told that I've found funny: 

"My feelings on this issue are guided by my faith, and I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and a woman and a woman..."

sacredh
sacredh

"And the Supreme Court may soon put gay marriage in the national spotlight by hearing cases on the federal law defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and California’s gay marriage ban."

.

This is the wild card. With an increasing percentage of the public moving in favor of same sex marriage, does John Roberts see the writing on the wall and decide that since it's going to happen anyway eventually that he makes another legacy vote? 

Jon Marc Mott Restivo
Jon Marc Mott Restivo

Kennedy is the swing vote on this one, and his legacy on gay rights began with Romer, continued through Lawrence, and will conclude with Perry.

bebo
bebo

Your way or the highway.  You want the right to have some clueless baby carry the burden of your selfishness for their entire life?   Live is not yet a TV show.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

 I wonder if any of the conservative justices will be persuaded by Ted Olsen arguing for gay marriage.

sacredh
sacredh

I doubt it. What does have me wondering is if the SC decides to hear this during this term and not take the chance that they'd have to hear it later on if Obama gets the chance to replace a conservative with a liberal.

mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

Those old ba$stars will never die or leave the bench while a liberal is in office. They will be brain dead and on full life support until this country elects a conservative president. I think Grover Norquist made them put that stipulation in their living wills.

Tero1
Tero1

Obama is for equality, Romney is for discrimination. End of story.

paulejb
paulejb

You wish, Katy. People who care about this issue will be voting and they won't be voting for a candidate who refuses to defend the law of the land the Defense of Marriage Act.

MomentoMori
MomentoMori

I'm assuming paulie want to ban divorce, too. If protecting the institution of 'traditional marriage' is so important, we need to start at the most obvious and pernicious attack on the institution.

Say it with me, paulie: "We need to outlaw divorce".

Because otherwise, you're a hypocrite.

ERenger
ERenger

Paulie, is that the position of your friends at Gay Patriot?

(Or do they favor different "positions.")

paulejb
paulejb

ERenger,

Haven't discussed it with them but I am sure that whatever their position they are not as deranged about it as homosexual extremists.

MomentoMori
MomentoMori

 Ok, it obviously worries you greatly, paulie.

How about this, paulie: I promise no one will make you marry anyone you don't want to, you can marry whomever consents to suffer you.

Now, can you same the same for the rest of us? Or is meddling in the love life of others a hobby?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Homosexual extremists like Larry Craig, Ted Haggerty and Marcus Bachman?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 The only people that Marriage needs to be defended from are Republican stalwarts like Donald Trump and Newt Gingritch.

paulejb
paulejb

mantisdragon91,

All the more reason to defend it from encroachment by extremists, bugs.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Only extremists I know of are religious fanatics like Atkin, Huckabee and Santorum that keep trying to make their wacky interpretations of the Bible into federal laws. Maybe if they spent less time looking into people's bed rooms and women's cervixes people would take them more seriously.

Arimathean
Arimathean

Would you not concede that our history is full of examples (especially in civil rights) of the "law of the land" being challenged on the basis of inequality?  Surely you wouldn't want to roll back the amendments allowing women to vote or outlawing slavery?

paulejb
paulejb

Arimathean,

You are confused. It is not I who is attempting to roll back DOMA.

Arimathean
Arimathean

That is what I'm pointing out, Paule.  Challenging DOMA is not by definition un-American or unethical.  There is a long history of very ethical challenges to civil rights laws.  Challenging DOMA is just the latest in that tradition.

Tero1
Tero1

It's about equality, moron. You are on the wrong side of history.

paulejb
paulejb

Tero1,

What would some backwoods Canadian know about equality, Tero?

IrishinToronto
IrishinToronto

Actually, veronicadiall, the current conservative government voted (in a free vote) not to overturn the law that provides for gay marriage in Canada, so the law is currently supported by all 5 federal parties - right to left.

Tero1
Tero1

Despite every attempt by rightwing extremists to prevent it, equality passed into law in Canada. The bigots like veroicadiall are apparently still whining about it...

veronicadiall
veronicadiall

For your information. The only reason why the traditional definition of marriage was struck down in Canada was because the left-leaning parties (Liberals and NDP) were forced to vote for it by the leadership.  The party members were not allowed to vote their conscience. It was not brought about by the will of the people.

Tero1
Tero1

Ummmm, I live in a county with marriage equality... moron.

outsider2011
outsider2011

Ironic since ACA is the law of the land, and you attack it constantly.

So he should only be defending the laws you approve of.. ?

That's all i'd expect from you anyway. True to form. All about repression of your countrymen.

It's the right wing way!

paulejb
paulejb

outsider2011,

I am not the one who took an oath to defend the laws, OS.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 Why aren't you singing his praises for defending the law of the land then - ACA?

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

On the other hand, the idiot masses don't get to vote away the civil rights of another group of Americans and a lot of people care about that.

paulejb
paulejb

Hollywooddeed,

The last vote on the subject was in NC and the same-sex marriage advocates didn't do that well, Hollywood.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 I can just see Paule in Alabama 60 years ago yelling about those uppity coloreds.