Along with voters in Arizona and Florida, Californians approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.Â In the Golden State, this is more significant as it overturns the state Supreme Court decision mandating state recognition of same-sex marriage.
This is not as bleak as it seems.Â We will revisit this matter.Â And with young voters (age 18-29) opposing the measure by a margin of 63-37 61-39*, the question of gay marriage is now only one of time.
The ballot language helped keep the margin close.Â In bold face, our ballots told us the impact of the proposed constitutional amendment, “eliminates [the] right of same-sex couples to marry.”Â Playing on that language, the “No” campaign could have defeated the measure had they focused the campaign on a line they used in their third ad, “Because regardless of how you feel about marriage, it’s wrong to treat people differently under the law.â€
That line, I believe, shows respect for those who see gender difference as the defining aspect of this ancient institution.Â Too often, in this campaign, opponents of the measure made it appear supporters had malign motives.Â To be sure, some did.Â But, for others, the great majority perhaps, same-sex marriage represents a significant social change.
I had long ago resolved to vote, “No,” on the measure, but wavered at points during the campaign, largely because of the raft of e-mails I received from friends, acquaintances and others who have my e-mail address demonizing the initiative and its supporters. I know many people, good people who voted “Yes” on 8.Â They don’t hate gay people. They just see marriage as a sacred institution between individuals of different sexes.
For a brief moment, I did not want to vote the same way as did those writing those hateful missives. Had it not been for the married same-sex couples I knew, I might have been swayed.
When we look at this narrow defeat, consider the rhetoric and actions of certain advocates of gay marriage, notably the Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom. If they caused someone like me to waver, how might they have impacted straight people who lack close gay friends and know no same-sex couples?
With a better campaign, focusing on freedom rather than equality, opponents might have defeated this measure.
There are signs of hope.Â Proposition 22 passed in 2000 with 61% of the vote. Eight years later, the percentage fell to 52%. And, as even the proponents of the measure made clear in their campaign, the initiative retains the state’s landmark domestic partnership program.
Gay people can still get married. The state will just no longer sanction their unions as such.
*CNN has tweaked their numbers since I first penned, er pixeled, this post.