Last night, before the Iowa Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage was handed down, I scribbled a few notes outlining the things I wanted to blog on today. But, this medium being what it is, the news often gets in the way of the topics we might otherwise wish to address.
One thing which I did wish to consider, however, becomes particularly timely in the wake of the reaction of gay activists to the Hawkeye State decision. I had intended to write on the need for an overhaul of the leadership of the gay movement, replacing those with left-wing backgrounds with those who can appeal to more socially conservative citizens, those who still harbor a degree of animosity toward and/or ignorance of gay people.
They need to find people who can do what Mary Cheney did when she appeared on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, provide an image of a normal gay American to those who do not readily have access to such imagery.
The Des Moines Register article includes this reaction from Richard Socarides, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay civil rights, to the decision:
I think it’s significant because Iowa is considered a Midwest state in the mainstream of American thought . . . Unlike states on the coasts, there’s nothing more American than Iowa. As they say during the presidential caucuses, ˜As Iowa goes, so goes the nation.’
So, is he saying that the decision of a court shows where the citizens of the state stand?
That same article cited a February 2008 poll which found that “62 percent of Iowans said they believed marriage should be only between a man and a woman.”
I might have greater understanding for tactic of using the courts to mandate state recognition of same-sex marriage if those pushing it had a parallel program to persuade the people of the merits of such an expansion of this ancient institution.
The problem remains that the leadership of the various gay organizations have few ideas about and little interest in appealing to most Americans. Instead of talking about marriage in the terms that most people use to debate the institution, they content themselves with making legal arguments to small groups of judges.
But, while they make progress with certain courts, they keep experiencing a backlash with the voters. When in 2006, after state courts in New York and Washington State refused to mandate state recognition of same-sex marriage, the percentage of citizens voting to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman declined. Two years previously, after Massachusetts mandated such recognition, state referenda passed across the country, usually by comfortable margins even in such “blue” states as Michigan and Oregon.
In short, when courts stay out of gay marriage, citizens do not warm to the appeal of social conservatives to amend state constitutions.Â When courts get involved, the social conservative appeal grows.
Unfortunately, the leadership of the various gay organizations seem more preoccupied with appealing to a handful of judges rather than withÂ convincing the American people of the merits of their cause.
And that’s one reason we need a complete overhaul of the gay leadership, drawing people not from the world of left-wing activism, but attracting those able and willing to reach out to those turned off by that ideology, those remain who hostile to or ignorant of gay people.