Posted by Dale Carpenter:
There's Always Next Year:

   The 53%-47% loss for gay marriage in Maine is a beginning, not an end.
   We have been down this road many times, with gay-equality advocates
   losing the first (or first few) rounds in popular referenda on lots of
   issues other than marriage. In fact, historically gay-rights measures
   have never fared well in popular votes. In Maine in the 1980s, the
   state legislature passed a state anti-discrimination law, only to have
   it rejected by voters. It passed the law again, and voters rejected it
   again. It passed the law a third time, and voters approved it. It was
   never repealed. A similar pattern might be reproduced with gay
   marriage in that state. A narrow loss can be made a narrow win. It's

   There will be the usual post-mortems about the campaign in Maine. My
   sense from a thousand miles away is that "No on 1" did a pretty good
   job of raising money, running an ad campaign, and operating a
   get-out-the-vote filed effort. (Disclosure: I contributed to No on 1.)

   Some will say that we should have included broader protection for
   religious liberty in the legislature's SSM bill. But I don't get the
   sense that the supposed erosion of religious liberty was the main
   Maine issue or that broader protection would have made a difference.
   It also wasn't about procreation, which never featured in any ads. And
   it wasn't a concern about the possibility that SSM might send a
   "message" that family structure doesn't matter. People don't really
   buy the notion that granting legal protection to existing families
   could send that message, any more than allowing second marriages or
   step-parent adoptions sends a message that it's unimportant to have
   married biological parents raise their own offspring.

   Instead, the central concern seems to have been what will be taught to
   the children of heterosexuals in public schools. Once again, as in
   California, but with even less justification, SSM opponents falsely
   but effectively claimed that allowing gay couples to wed would mean
   "teaching" gay marriage in public schools when in fact kids will be
   taught about the existence of gay marriages in any event. The
   not-so-subtle subtext of that message, which has historically poisoned
   just about every public policy issue involving homosexuals, from
   decriminalizing sodomy to passing antidiscrimination laws, is that the
   gays are coming to get your kids. Exactly what "coming to get your
   kids" means will vary from person to person, but it's not something
   parents want to chance.

   It's hard to counter that message without admitting a core truth: that
   allowing gay marriage will mean kids will think somewhat better of
   homosexuals. That's a benefit of SSM, though not the most important
   one. SSM advocates haven't quite figured out how to say that softening
   anti-gay attitudes will make us better citizens in a pluralistic
   society without making kids into little Liberaces.

   Maine was disappointing, though the bigger loss for SSM may have been
   the defeat of a pro-SSM governor in New Jersey, where the campaign had
   nothing to do with SSM and the governor ran on a platform of, "my
   opponents is a fatso." New Jersey was within months of adopting gay
   marriage legislatively, but that may now have been put off for a few

   Something is turning in this debate, though. With close popular votes
   in two states in the last year, little prospect of additional anti-SSM
   state constitutional amendments, coming legislative action in more
   states, the first-ever victory for civil unions in an election last
   night in Washington state, and federal marriage amendment in rigor
   mortis, the question now is not whether, but where and when.

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