Marriage advocates stand firm as same-sex marriage passes popular vote for first time


By Maria Wiering

Twitter: @ReviewWiering


Traditional-marriage advocates once took solace in same-sex marriage’s voting record: In 15 years, it had never passed a popular vote.

That is, until Election Day 2012.

Voters in three states – Maryland, Maine and Washington State – passed measures Nov 6 legalizing same-sex marriage. Minnesotans voted down an amendment to their state constitution defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

Despite the election outcome, Americans still strongly favor marriage as a union between one man and one woman, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said in a Nov. 7 statement.

“Our opponents and some in the media will attempt to portray the election results as a changing point in how Americans view gay marriage, but that is not the case,” he said. “The election results reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in these very liberal states.”

NOM, a Washington, D.C.,-based organization that combats same-sex marriage legislative initiatives, attributed same-sex marriage’s election-day success to the issue’s well-funded campaigns. NOM contributed more than $5.5 million to campaigns to protect traditional marriage, but estimated that same-sex marriage supporters spent four times as much.

“We knew long ago that we faced a difficult political landscape with the four marriage battles occurring in four of the deepest-blue states in America,” Brown said. “As our opponents built a huge financial advantage, the odds became even steeper. We ran strong campaigns and nearly prevailed in a very difficult environment, significantly out-performing the GOP ticket in every state.”

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, took heart in the narrow margins by which the ballot initiatives favoring same-sex marriage passed, despite same-sex marriage advocates’ funding advantage.

“No matter what policy, law or judicial decision is put into place, marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman to each other and to any children born of their union. It is either this, or it is nothing at all,” he said in a Nov. 7 statement. “In a society marked by increasing poverty and family fragmentation, marriage needs to be strengthened, promoted, and defended – not redefined.”

Less than four percentage points separated the “for” and “against” votes in Maryland. According to the State Board of Elections, 48.1 percent of voters opposed the measure, while 51.9 percent voted in favor.

In a Nov. 7 statement, Derek McCoy, Maryland Marriage Alliance executive director, pointed to the 1.1 million voters who opposed the state’s same-sex marriage law.

“I speak for MMA’s coalition of diverse organizations and individuals, when I say that we are encouraged that throughout this campaign, hundreds of thousands of petition signers, volunteers and supporters continued to stand firm in their knowledge that marriage is a unique institution that is the foundation of stable societies,” he said.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance led statewide efforts to overturn the same-sex marriage ballot initiative. The Maryland Catholic Conference, which advocates on behalf of the state’s bishops, were MMA coalition members.

When their same-sex marriage laws take effect, Maine, Maryland and Washington State will join six other states licensing same-sex marriage: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. Same-sex marriage is also legal in the District of Columbia.

Nationally, traditional marriage advocates are disappointed by the losses, but they will continue to work to protect marriage as a union between one man and one woman, Brown said.

“Marriage is a true and just cause, and we will never abandon the field of battle just because we experienced a setback,” he said. “There is much work to do, and we begin that process now.”

 Copyright (c) Nov. 8, 2012


Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.