In the wake of the presidential election, those on either side of the political landscape began speculating about the role samesex marriage played in President Bush’s win.
Many saw the success of all 11 amendments banning same-sex marriage as an indication of the crucial role the issue played. Kerry, who backed civil unions, supported the notion of marriage as between a man and woman, but opposed a constitutional amendment like the one called for by Bush, which would define it as such.
CNN’s exit poll showed that 22 percent of voters felt that “moral values” were the most important factor in their decision.
“It's sickening and fascinating that when one in five voters said “moral values” was the most important issue for them, pundits immediately equated that with gay marriage alone,” said Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates, Inc. released a poll showing that while “moral values” ranked as the most important issue for 22 percent of voters polled, three percent listed gay and lesbian rights issues as the most important issue.
“Frankly, the right did a better job in turning out their vote in key places,” Foreman said. “They’ve been building their machine—illegally, unethically, or both—through churches for 30 years. They have seized and occupied ‘moral values’ for years.”
Openly gay Massachusetts representative Barney Frank argued that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s decision to allow same-sex couples to marry last February invigorated Bush supporters and influenced the success of all 11 same-sex marriage amendments, according to The New York Times.
“The thing that agitated people were the mass weddings,” Frank said. “It was a mistake in San Francisco compounded by people in Oregon, New Mexico and New York. What it did was provoke a lot of fears.”
Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America’s Culture & Family Institute believes that the issue served as a wedge between parties.
“The marriage issue was like a great cultural iceberg, playing the electoral currents,” Knight said. “Certainly, it didn’t hurt the ‘religious’ turnout, which broke for the president and other pro-family candidates.”
However, Newsom’s critics weren’t the only ones to suggest that same-sex marriage might have influenced the presidential vote. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., received criticism from fellow Democrats when she commented on its role in the election.
“I believe it did energize a very conservative vote,” Feinstein, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It gave them a position to rally around. The whole issue has been too much, too fast, too soon.”
Foreman is troubled by any suggestion that the issue should have been set aside until a later date.
“I am disgusted that almost no political leaders seemed to understand, let alone denounce the fact that it is always wrong to put a fundamental right up for a popular vote,” Foreman said.