Friday, November 21, 2003

Turn the tables

Two articles to recommend to you today on the issue of gay marriages and civil unions. The first is an American Prospect article by Matthew Yglesias that argues that the majority is on the side of those who support improving the civil rights of gay Americans. The second is a post to Dean Nation by Aziz Poonawalla that expands on Matthew's article by saying that Howard Dean is uniquely positioned to persuade that majority to the Democratic side.

This is an argument I have made myself on multiple occasions. Yes, the Republicans will try their damndest to make this into a wedge issue in 2004. But running away from it, as some Democrats are urging, is the surest way to make sure that wedge will work. Aziz argues that Democrats should make the precise wording of the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) a key point of their counter-attack. They should make it clear to American's just what such an amendment would mean.


To be sure, this split in opinion still leaves the anti-gay forces with a political edge, seeing as the cons outnumber the pros by a significant margin. But the key point is that the crucial middle ground -- which, taken together with those who favor gay rights, forms a majority, however slim -- is held not by gay bashers but by people who basically don't care.


[The FMA] not just a way to stop liberal activist courts from imposing gay marriage. It's a way to stop State legislatures from enacting civil unions, too. The language is unambigous. It's intolerant, divisive, anti-federalist, and ugly. It invites the government into the bedroom of every American and abrogates to itself the power to define the status of human relationships. It's fundamentally un-American and goes against every libertarian grain that the character of this country embodies. The FMA is the wet dream of the Christian Mullahs.

It's time to put the cockroaches on the defensive for once.


Ruy Teixeira, a guy who knows something about political demographics, agrees:

And what’s the support level for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage? A minuscule 10 percent, according to a just-released Pew Research Center Study. That makes stated support for gay marriage–32 percent, in the same poll–look robust. So if the GOP starts pumping up the issue, they’re going to energize a part of their base that holds a profoundly unpopular position–a position that will alienate many of the moderate suburban voters they need to carry swing states.

This issue could prove to be a tar-baby for Bush. Far from running from it, the Democrats should force Bush to either endorse or disclaim the FMA. If he endorses it then they can use it to drive a wedge between him and those moderate suburban voters. If he disclaims it then they can use it to drive a wedge between him and his base (many of whom are already disenchanted with him).


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