I don’t often read the New York Times, but have observed that despite that paper’s bias, it occasionally produces some very solid reporting. A Friday the Thirteenth article on gay marriage shows that the Old Gray Lady seems to “get” the reality of one aspect of the gay marriage debate. In that piece, “Gay Marriage Losing Punch as Ballot Issue,” reporter Kirk Johnson notes that this year this issue “has largely failed to rouse conservative voters.”
While he notes that some “of the proposed bans are struggling in the polls,” I would expect most, it not all of them to pass, given the track record of such referenda. But, we’re not hearing so much about the issues as we have in the past. Johnson notes that the momentum has shifted:
The momentum against same-sex marriage at the ballot box has also been hurt by court cases that have upheld bans on same-sex marriage– notably rulings by the highest courts in New York and Washington this summer — by removing some of the urgency for constitutional amendments.
Exactly. As long as state courts stay out of this issue, most Americans won’t see the need for referenda defining marriage as it has long been defined — as the union of one man and one woman.
In this new environment, advocates of gay marriage need to focus on developing means to make their case the American people. This strategy will require not only solid arguments, but also patience. In the short term, we will likely have to accept a number of defeats as the American people don’t yet seem ready to expand the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. In some cases, we will have to settle for civil unions. Indeed, I recommend looking to last year’s legislation in Connecticut as the appropriate strategy for now.
As long as the courts stay out of this, I believe we will be able to convince the American people — and their elected representatives — to support legal recognition of (and benefits for) same-sex couples. The victory may not be as swift as a court decision, but a victory harder won could provide longer-lasting benefits and less social division.