Monday, January 30, 2012

The gay marriage amendment, post-Perdue

Does Gov. Bev Perdue's decision not to run for reelection bode well for opponents of N.C.'s gay marriage amendment?

Common sense says yes - a contested Democratic primary brings more Democrats to the polls on May 8, when voters will also decide if the state needs a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. Deomcrats largely support gay rights, with the historic exception of blacks, who tend to be more conservative on the issue. So Perdue's departure equals good news, right?

"I'm sure that supporters of the amendment thought that, strategically, putting the question on the May ballot was their best chance," said Michael Bitzer, a professor of politics and history at Catawba College, told the Associated Press. "That strategy just got blown out of the water."

But the numbers - as of now - say it won't matter.

Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen broke things down for us this afternoon. Right now, he says, 64 percent of Democrats in the state support legal recognition for gays in the form of gay marriage or civil unions. "The more of those folks who come out, the greater the chance the amendment fails," Jensen says.

But: If the contested primary causes a 10-point increase in Democratic turnout, that would shave only 2-4 points off the marriage amendment's margin for passage. Right now, it's passing by 22 percent, according to PPP's polling.

"Every little thing helps, but this is more of a minor game-changer than a major one," Jensen says.

Still, only 40 percent of North Carolinians say that gays should have no legal recognition, be it marriage or civil unions, which suggests that amendment opponents can make up ground if they can get the message across that its passage impacts civil unions, as well.

Those discussions are starting to rev up. The Observer's Michael Gordon reported today on two Charlotte ministers who spoke out Sunday, each on one side of the issue. The Raleigh News & Observer reported today on a Carrboro anti-amendment meeting.

Bonus reading assignment on the issue: The New York Times Frank Bruni has some problems with the insistence of gays to show that science says they were "born this way." Bruni understands that having such genetic evidence of homosexuality would serve to make bigotry even more inexcusable, but he wonders if the search for that proof misses a larger point.

Says Bruni, who is gay:

The born-this-way approach carries an unintended implication that the behavior of gays and lesbians needs biological grounding to evade condemnation. Why should it?

Our laws safeguard religious freedom, and that’s not because there’s a Presbyterian, Buddhist or Mormon gene. There’s only a tradition and theology that you elect or decline to follow. But this country has deemed worshiping in a way that feels consonant with who you are to be essential to a person’s humanity. So it’s protected.

Our laws also safeguard the right to bear arms: not exactly a biological imperative.

Among adults, the right to love whom you’re moved to love — and to express it through sex and maybe, yes, marriage — is surely as vital to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as a Glock.
Peter St. Onge

6 comments:

Wiley Coyote said...

According to Cynthia Nixon, she chose to be gay....

Adolf said...

When gay issues are on the ballot, you can be sure there is nothing else more important to discuss... like jobs or education ...

WHen gay marriage is the most important decision, you can be sure the rest of the world is pretty darn fine!

Nathan Forrest said...

What is the Observers obsession with this topic?

cooldela1966 said...

Looking at the polls I cannot imagine a Democratic nominee for Governor taking a strong pro-gay stance. Not if they really want to win.

Archiguy said...

Maybe we can find a candidate willing to take a strong pro-equality and social justice stand. After all, that's what Democrats are supposed to stand for.

Eventually, the anti-gay crowd is going to lose this fight. The country is steadily moving in a progressive fashion, whether they want to admit it or not. Public opinion is shifting on this issue.

The conservatives who said the Republic would fall if women got the right to vote, or civil rights were extended to all people regardless of color, or if mixed race individuals were allowed to marry, have always stood squarely on the wrong side of history. And considering they've been wrong so often, the wise person will see where conservatives are in a philosophical debate about social issues - and run as fast as he can in the other direction.

Tom said...

Nathan - the Observer loves to 'stir the pot' on this topic, going back many years. In 1996 (which is before many of the readers of this page lived here), the NCAA Women's Basketball Final 4 was in town. Instead of doing stories about the teams involved or basketball in general, on the Sunday the weekend of the Finals, the Observer decided to run a page 1A story on Pam Parsons. Ms. Parsons had been fired by the Univ. of South Carolina 14 YEARS PRIOR (in 1982!!) with allegations of financial, academic, recruiting, and sexual improprieties. However, the Observer played up this long-dead story as another case of the persecution of homosexuals - this time in women's college basketball. It was a real stretch to run a dormant story which few cared about (with Auriemma and Summitt in town, there would have been a lot to write about right there), but with much of the national sports media in town, the Observer couldn't resist.

That mindset continues among the Observer editors today.