The Engage Family Blog

Official Blog of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia

Marriage the New Liberal Wedge Issue?

with 4 comments

There is an argument – one that I am strongly against – that suggests some use grassroots efforts to allow the people of a given state to vote on the definition of marriage as a “wedge issue” to help get Republicans elected to office.

The Associated Press is now suggesting that the opposite may be true – that Liberal Democrats may begin using same-sex “marriage” as a wedge issue to expand their power-base:

With congressional elections next year, Republicans, Democrats and nonpartisan analysts say the changes benefit Democrats, whose bedrock liberals favor gay unions, and disadvantage Republicans, whose conservative base insists that marriage be solely between a man and a woman.

. . .

Democrats have a broader base filled with more accepting younger voters, as well as flexibility on the issue. Hard-core liberals support gay marriage, while others, including President Barack Obama, take a more moderate position of civil unions and defer to states on gay marriage.

Conversely, the GOP base is older, smaller and more conservative. Republicans have no place to shift on the issue but to the left, because the party has been identified largely with its rock-solid opposition to gay marriage and civil unions. Also, the GOP has no titular head setting the tone on this or other issues.

In recent months, proponents have used state legislatures and court challenges to legalize gay marriage, mindful that the majority of the public still isn’t supportive and successful ballot measures would be less likely.

Because of high court rulings, gay marriage now is legal in Iowa, Massachusetts and Connecticut. A Vermont law allowing gay marriage will take effect in September. New Hampshire and New Jersey, where same-sex couples can enter into civil unions, are considering gay marriage legislation. So are Maine and New York.

Political insiders no doubt will pay close attention to developments in Iowa and New Hampshire, early presidential voting states, to see how the issue plays out in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.

Despite the changes, gay-marriage opponents are buoyed by a voter initiative in California that blocked the state from allowing gay marriage, and by the 29 states where voters have approved state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.

via The Associated Press: Dems sense opportunity on gay marriage.

It is nice to see at least a little honesty from more liberal candidates.  Yet, it doesn’t add up.  A case could be made that traditional marriage is still a winner regardless of your political party affiliation.

That is certainly true in West Virginia where nearly 94% of voters – irrespective of political party – believe voters should make the decision on the definition of marriage and not judges or politicians.  

It’s also true that the defense of marriage is a popular issue among either party in West Virginia.  Nearly 2/3’s of Democrats support marriage as one man, one woman, which is only a few percentage points down from the Republican support for marriage in WV.

That is likely why 50 Democrats and 20 Republicans of the House of Delegates signed on to a resolution to commit the Legislature to study whether it should allow West Virginians the right to vote on the definition of marriage.

Then, there is the obvious: of the 30 states (some leave out Hawaii) that have given voters the right to define marriage, every single one of them have upheld marriage as one man, one woman.

But, don’t forget what we learned from California and Ohio in the last 2 presidential elections.  First, in Ohio, nearly a million voters who voted for John Kerry crossed lines to also support the definition of marriage.  Then, just last November, many believe that the vote of black, democrats who voted for Barack Obama were also responsible for upholding the definition of marriage in California.  In fact, Obama’s own words in support of marriage were used to campaign for Proposition 8.

The point is this: the definition of marriage is transcendent of any party line, political figure, or poll.  One’s belief about the definition of marriage will largely stem from at least two sometimes overlapping sources: personal, religious conviction or an understanding of the public good of marriage.  

Since politicans were not the ones to come up with the idea of marriage, this makes sense.  Marriage was not created based on the whim of a poll or the fancy of a pol.  Marriage was designed and created by God and given to us as a package deal of rights He endowed to humanity (not government).  That is what makes arguments that government could bifurcate the civil and religious components of marriage so silly.  

Sure, politicians have clearly used marriage as a wedge issue.  However, it would be presumptuous indeed to conclude that the GOP was the only party guilty of using a social issue to elect their own.  

One need only look to House Districts 31 and 44 of West Virginia to see how Dels. Webster and Fleischauer – who colluded in 2009 to prevent your right to vote on the definition of marriage – have repeatedly campaigned for special rights for homosexual behavior and, ultimately, a progressive understanding of the definition of marriage.  

Whether marriage is a wedge issue for Republicans or “gay-rights” one for Democrats doesn’t really matter.  Both sides feel and think passionately about the issue.  For that very reason, West Virginia politicians ought to allow the democratic process to work.

Let the people vote on the definition of marriage.


Written by Jeremy Dys

May 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Here’s the problem – it doesn’t matter that “nearly 94% of voters – irrespective of political party – believe voters should make the decision on the definition of marriage and not judges or politicians”. The mob has no right to decide whether a minority should or should not have the same basic rights as others. God and the Bible have no dog in this fight, and no decision affecting a broad segment of society should be made based upon someone else’s religious beliefs. That kind of thinking simply does not belong in public policy.

    Hopefully, we’re going to see Prop 8 struck down soon for this very reason – the mob, in this case the voters, is being used to make laws which effectively remove a person’s ability to marry who they love.

    Really, gay marriage does not affect you. It doesn’t affect anyone’s straight marriage. It only applies to those who are homosexual – just one part of the very wide and natural spectrum that encompasses human sexuality.


    May 5, 2009 at 12:11 am

  2. Mob rule. Would that be the same mob that ratified the document of minority rights called the Constitution?


    May 5, 2009 at 12:46 am

  3. The Constitution was not approved by the voters; it was ratified by the legislatures of the individual states. That’s the idea behind representative government.

    Asking the voters to decide whether certain people should be allowed to marry is no different than asking them if black people should be allowed to own property or women permitted to vote. Issues regarding basic human rights, such as marriage, should not be decided by some winner-takes-all ballot measure.


    May 5, 2009 at 12:55 am

  4. And where does the legislature get their rights?


    May 5, 2009 at 1:31 am

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