Marriage setback for now in 4 states

By Doug Carlson
Nov 8, 2012

The institution of marriage suffered a series of serious but non-fatal strikes on Tuesday. In four states, voters considered ballot initiatives addressing the definition of marriage—three initiatives to legalize same-sex “marriage” and a fourth to protect traditional marriage under a state constitution. And in three of the cases, with a fourth likely to follow when all ballots are counted, traditional marriage went down in defeat.

The losses, though disappointing, should not be considered debilitating to the ongoing fight to preserve marriage.

By very narrow votes, Maryland and Maine approved initiatives to legalize same-sex “marriage.” They join six other states—Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire and Vermont—as well as the District of Columbia in legalizing same-sex “marriage.” What separates Maryland and Maine from the others is that they became the first to legalize same-sex “marriage” by popular vote. In every other instance, courts or legislatures have imposed the practice on the populace.

Receiving a majority of “yes” votes, the Maryland initiative (Question 6) upheld a measure passed earlier this year by the state legislature to legalize same-sex “marriage.” The initiative passed by a 52-48 percent margin. The Maine initiative (Question 1), also receiving a majority of “yes” votes, both repealed a state law banning same-sex “marriage” and legalized the practice. That initiative won 53-47 percent. These are hardly landslides.

Similar outcomes are proving true in the two other states that considered marriage on the ballot. Minnesota citizens voted whether to become the 31st state to amend its constitution to define marriage as only between one man and one woman. This, too, was a close contest. Amendment 1 failed 48 percent in favor to 51 percent against.

Meanwhile, in the state of Washington, voters appear to be on the way to approving a legislature-passed measure to legalize same-sex “marriage” in the Evergreen State. With just more than half of the precincts reporting, Referendum 74 leads 52-48 percent—another reasonably close contest.

Not surprisingly, same-sex “marriage” supporters are hailing the votes as reasons to believe the nation is ready for same-sex “marriage.” But there is more to these outcomes than readily meets the eye.

First there was the money factor. Pro-traditional marriage supporters were outspent by at least 4-to-1, according to the National Organization for Marriage, which raised $5.5 million to urge support for traditional marriage in the four contests. Naturally, that funding gap lent itself to a messaging factor: The money shortage meant a message shortage. Fewer dollars in the pro-marriage war chest meant difficulty in reaching voters with the pro-marriage message. As a result, misleading opposition ads—such as those stating that same-sex “marriage” and religious freedom can co-exist without conflict—were not sufficiently countered. Many voters, consequently, were given a false sense of security.

Even so, polling ahead of the votes demonstrated that the gap in support for and opposition to same-sex “marriage” was narrowing in each of the four states. What’s more, the voter gaps in the final outcomes were tighter on each of the initiatives than the states’ gaps in the presidential contest.

All that is to say a few losses for traditional marriage—having been out-funded and consequently out-messaged in difficult regions of the country—should not deter or deflate the pro-marriage message. The marriage message has won on 32 occasions. A few losses should not derail the cause.

So where does that leave the nation on marriage? In the immediate term, the battle over marriage could leave the states and head to the Supreme Court. On Nov. 20, the high court is expected to meet in conference to decide whether it will hear challenges to Proposition 8—California’s voter-approved initiative to define marriage as one man and one woman in state law—and the Defense of Marriage Act. If it decides to take up one of the cases, the court could render a decision on marriage by next June.

Amid the uncertainty, one thing is certain: Preservation of the one-man, one-woman institution of marriage is worth fighting for no matter what polls, politicians or courts suggest. It’s God’s design, and it’s the blueprint for every healthy society.

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