Saturday, November 08, 2008

the gay marriage referenda

Tuesday was not a victory for all "progressive" forces: California and at least one other state approved ballot measures rejecting same-sex marriage. The California vote was a particularly bitter setback as, if one does the math, a substantial number of Obama voters cast their ballots in favor of the initiative. Emotions have run high since the voting: I saw CNN footage of a couple of gay rights protesters appearing to stomp on a wooden cross wielded by a counter-protester, although it is possible that the cross was, Dustin Hoffman-like, used first against them: this is California after all.

I must confess to mixed feelings about gay marriage, which I think will eventually be accepted but was perhaps pushed through in several states without thinking through all the consequences. (In my brief campaign for Congress, I favored the "civil unions" alternative.) But I dislike the referendum process much more, and indeed don't quite understand how it is constitutional, in the first place. (Perhaps this is why I received a C+ in Con Law). As a moderate conservative, I also find the whole anti-gay crusade to be increasingly mean-spirited and a poor use of the movement's resources. As a married straight person, I am very concerned about increased divorce rates, overstimulated children, and the difficulty of finding time together with my wife in a two-career world. Whom other people sleep with is simply not too high on my list of concerns.

The gay marriage issue does suggest how bitter the struggle for control of the liberal agenda is likely to be in Obama's America. The President-elect himself has been by and large cool to the gay agenda, not to mention the gun control movement and other traditional liberal causes. (That's part of the reason he won so decisively.) But there is likely to be enormous pressure on him to embrace such causes, and a corresponding level of bitterness if he does not. The 1960s became the 1960s, in large part, because expectations for change were raised in the first half of the decade and subsequently not met. Could it happen again? Stay tuned.


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