Let The People Decide Marriage Issues
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell was published August 7, 2011 on the American Thinker website.
Advocates for extending marriage rights to same-sex couples think they are on a roll with New York State’s action. Lawmakers and lobbyists cut a midnight backroom deal to push a marriage bill through Albany. They would not dare to submit this issue to New York voters. Some of them remember how state voters turned back the ERA in the Empire State thirty years ago.
Of course, New York is home to our liberal media elites. They naturally think the Big Apple is the center of the world and shape of things to come. The heroes who defended marriage there were former New York Giant David Tyree, who is black, and Democratic state Sen. Ruben Diaz, a Pentecostal minister. The sellouts were Republicans.
It is a fine irony that New York and New England elites, who once prided themselves on being “progressive,” now fear their own citizens. Not one state in New England that has tried to force acceptance of same-sex relationships as marriages has allowed the people to vote. New York joins five other states in overturning marriage laws.
Compare this with thirty-two states have put marriage protection on the ballot. In those thirty-two states, tens of millions of Americans have expressed their firm belief that marriage should continue to as a union between one man and one woman.
I’m especially proud of my home state of Ohio. In 2004, Buckeye voters approved a state constitutional amendment protecting marriage by a thumping 62%. As the Ohio secretary of state at that time, I had to fend off attempts by liberals to throw the measure off the ballot. They were desperate to prevent the people from speaking on this vital issue.
That’s not surprising. Wherever the people speak, they vote for their civil right of marriage. Ohio’s vote was critical. Political analysts can show how the marriage amendment pushed George W. Bush across the finish line in the presidential contest there. Carrying Ohio by more than 100,000 votes put Ohio’s electoral votes in the Bush column, thereby gaining him a second term.
There is one region of the country where marriage is even more strongly supported: the South. In the ten states of the Old Confederacy where Americans have voted thus far, marriage initiatives have averaged a stunning 71.44% support. North Carolina has just advanced a marriage initiative. If we are successful there, Tarheel voters will give new meaning to the Solid South.
Look behind these numbers. What you see is clear: A black-white alliance. In addition, the South is increasingly welcoming Hispanic and Asian immigrants. You could not rack up 86% of Mississippi voters, 81% of Alabama voters, and 78% of South Carolina voters without considerable black and white backing.
This is because marriage is not a wedge issue. It’s a bridge issue. That’s why liberals fear it on the ballot. They know that the people do not want marriage abolished. They know it creates a formidable grassroots coalition. How else can we explain the Maryland legislature’s last-minute decision? Lawmakers in Annapolis shelved a bill to force citizens of the Free State to recognize same-sex couples as just-marrieds.
The South was surely wrong on slavery and Jim Crow. For far too long, black Southerners had to endure oppression, violence, and discrimination. White Southerners, too, found their region held back by this historic injustice. It is certainly a hopeful sign when blacks and whites join hands to protect the most important of our civil institutions.
Marriage wins in liberal states, conservative states, and moderate states. It’s not a red state/blue state issue. It’s a red-white-and-blue issue and it wins all over. And that’s not just whistlin’ Dixie!