Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Moderates, Atheists and Gay Marriage:

According to Patrick Guerrero, the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans:

The November 2004 election represents a historic wake-up call for gay and lesbian Americans and organizations. We lost. Not only did we lose our fight against 11 anti-gay ballot questions, we lost in the broader social and political landscape of America. If we listen to those attempting to sanitize or sugarcoat the post-election analysis, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes and destined for more setbacks in the years ahead.

Guerrero's assessment may sound stark, but it’s hard to argue with when you look at the actual results of the election. Consider the findings of exit polling in Oregon, the state where the anti-gay marriage amendments passed by the lowest margin of 57 to 43 percent.

Nearly 20 percent of the self-described liberal voters and an even 50 percent of the moderates in Oregon voted in favor of the marriage bans. The most surprising result of Oregon poll, however, is the one suggesting that one-third of the 28 percent of Oregonians who do not identity as religious also supported the ban. This group of secular gay marriage opponents was so large, in fact, that had their vote gone the other way, the amendment would have failed to pass by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent.

Guerrero is right: If those of us who are gay and lesbian content ourselves with merely blaming the religious right for our failures, we are bound to keep losing at the polls and, increasingly, in the courts as well. Our task might be much easier if our only “enemy” were the Christian right, but the fact is there are a lot of moderates and liberals whose views on gay marriage are hardly any more sympathetic to our ultimate goals. The questions I hope to explore on this blog are why this is so and what we can do about it.

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