Skip to comments.Marriage Ruling Causes Dems 'Heartburn,' Analyst Says
Posted on 11/19/2003 4:35:01 AM PST by kattracks
(CNSNews.com) - The Massachusetts Supreme Court decision okaying same-sex marriages may propel the contentious issue to the forefront of the 2004 elections and cause the Democratic Party "heartburn" next year, a political analyst said Tuesday.
"It can't help the Democratic candidates, it just can't," said Larry Sabato in an interview with CNSNews.com. Sabato is a political science professor at the University of Virginia.
"This is going to add a major controversy to the presidential and congressional election year. This decision in Massachusetts has elevated gay marriage to a position of major emphasis during the campaign," Sabato said.
Republicans will be the obvious beneficiaries of this situation, according to Sabato.
"I think it is an advantage for Republicans. How big an advantage remains to be seen, but it is an advantage," Sabato explained.
"Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to gay marriage. Democrats, many of whom are opposed to gay marriage, [still] favor [same-sex] civil unions, and most Americans don't see the difference between the two," Sabato added.
According to Sabato, the eventual Democratic presidential nominee will have to try and parse the difference between support of homosexual civil unions and the more comprehensive issue of same-sex marriage. The Democratic candidate will also have to balance the support of homosexual lobbying groups with the views of the general electorate, Sabato predicted.
"That conflict is going to cause the Democratic nominee heartburn," Sabato said.
Only three Democratic presidential candidates have expressed support for same-sex marriage: U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich from Ohio, Rev. Al Sharpton and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun from Illinois. The other six candidates have expressed support for same-sex civil unions but have stopped short of endorsing the concept of homosexual marriage.
The pressure will not just be on the Democrats. The Bush administration now finds itself under increasing pressure to back a federal constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.
In July, a White House spokesman said the Bush administration was considering its options to defend traditional marriage - and a constitutional amendment was among those options. But President Bush later said he was not sure if a constitutional amendment would be necessary. In late October, President Bush told reporters: "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and I think we ought to codify that one way or another." He added: "We've got lawyers looking at the best way to do that."
However, Bush issued the following statement on Tuesday: "Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. Today's decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court violates this important principle. I will work with congressional leaders and others to do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage."
Sabato believes the fallout over the same-sex marriage issue will harm the eventual Democratic presidential nominee more than Bush.
"It is gong to be difficult for the Democratic nominee not to appear to be much more in favor of this particular decision than President Bush," Sabato explained. "The Republicans are on one side of this cultural divide, and the Democrats are on another, and that is just the way it is," he added.
Sabato believes that while the West Coast and Northeast may become more Democratic in an election divided by the "gay marriage" controversy, the key Midwest states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa could harm the Democrat's presidential ambitions.
"All three states - narrowly carried by Gore (in 2000) - might be winnable by Bush based on a social issue like this," Sabato said.
'Handed the White House to Bill Clinton'
But Mark Mead, spokesman for the homosexual Republican group Log Cabin Republicans, believes that GOP opposition to homosexual marriage could harm the party's chances of keeping the White House.
"The past is a really good predictor of the future. When we ran a culture war campaign led by Pat Buchanan in 1992, we lost, and we handed the White House to Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton for eight years," Mead told CNSNews.com.
"So if we run on a culture war campaign, I predict that's what will happen again," Mead said.
Log Cabin Republicans are "pleased with the (Massachusetts Supreme Court) ruling" and believe the issue to be "strictly a civil issue that will protect all families in America," according to Mead.
Bush can win re-election if he runs as "an inclusive, man reaching out to all parts of America" campaign, according to Mead. He added that misinformation propagated by the "extreme right" is to blame for much of the opposition to same-sex marriage.
"We allowed the extreme right to define this as a religious issue, and it's not. It's a civil issue," Mead said. He believes that when misconceptions about same-sex marriages are explained and the issue is cast as one of fairness and basic rights, the American public supports it.
If "you don't explain it properly and people think that their Baptist church or their synagogue is going to be forced to recognize a relationship they don't want, then we lose badly. It's really going to be up to us how we define it," Mead said. "If we do a poor job, we lose in the arena of public opinion."
Mead does not expect President Bush to support "gay marriages," but his group holds out hope that the president will decide not to turn it into a high-profile issue in the 2004 campaign.
"I think that George W. Bush watched up close in 1992 what the culture war campaign did to his father, and I think he is determined not to let that happen again," Mead said.
The Human Rights Campaign, a liberal homosexual rights group, applauded the court decision but predicted that the issue of same-sex marriages would not have a significant impact on the 2004 elections.
"Most Americans in polling say that (same-sex marriage) is not an issue they vote on. The things most Americans care about are the war in Iraq, the economy, do they have jobs, what is the state of the environment," said Mark Shields, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign.
"While a lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of gay marriage, when you talk about it in terms of the rights and benefits and protections that come with it, people do tend to understand that same-sex couples have the same need to protect their families that other people do," Shields told CNSNews.com.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) predicted last month that the issue of same-sex marriages would dominate the 2004 elections.
Clinton told a homosexual advocacy group, the Empire State Pride Agenda, that a constitutional amendment would form "the center of the presidential election next year."
Clinton criticized President Bush for supporting a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman and said the amendment would be pushed by people "who try to drive wedges between Americans."
'I disagree with the decision'
Meanwhile, the Senate's top Democrat, Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), came out against the ruling.
"I disagree with the decision. I believe that the Defense of Marriage Act that we passed in the Congress is constitutional. I think that will be borne out," Daschle told reporters on Tuesday.
"I believe that the issue is as clear as can be. We passed the Defense of Marriage Act by an overwhelming margin on a bipartisan basis. The law still stands today, and I think it would under any court scrutiny," Daschle added.
Massachusetts's Republican governor, Mitt Romney, also criticized the ruling.
"Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. I will support an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution that makes that expressly clear. Of course, we must provide basic civil rights and appropriate benefits to non-traditional couples, but marriage is a special institution that should be reserved for a man and a woman," Romney said on Tuesday.
See Related Stories:
Pro-Family Groups Say Mass. Ruling Undermines Marriage (Nov. 19, 2003)
Mass. Decision Said to Encourage Federal Marriage Amendment (Nov. 19, 2003)
E-mail a news tip to Marc Morano.
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Eventual amendment should specify - "one man and one woman" as well as "excluding close blood relatives". Just in case.
The "wedge" was driven a long time ago between 98% of the population and the 2% who are homosexuals.If the democrats embrace the homosexual agenda they will lose big time.
It's very much both.
Yeah, we really need to worry about losing the votes of the 2% of the population that are homosexuals don't we?
Sure is fun when the dims get between a rock and a hard place!
...who among the nine dwarves will be the first to embrace the Mass SC decision??
...who will be the first to decry it??
I love it when liberals are forced to eat their own.
Karl Rove's replacement for the Religious Right. After all Dick Morris claims that Arnold's election proves that republicans no longer need the religious right, so they can just dump them.
When this is over the Religious Right will have some soul searching to do.
We don't need their help, we're doing just fine all by ourselves.
President Bush's approval rating had fallen below 40% well before Pat Buchanan made his culture-war comments. While Buchanan's primary challenge certainly didn't help Bush, it's a real stretch to say that's why he lost.
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