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Monday, November 8, 2004
On the Gay Marriage Amendment

By Steven Taylor @ 8:02 pm

Several readers have responded to my statement this morning that pursuing a federal marriage amendment would be politically foolish by stating that it would 1) reward evangelical voters and 2) it would keep the issue alive politically for the next election.

First off, both of those assumptions seem based on the idea that it was in fact gay marriage that delivered the presidency for Bush. As numerous posts have demonstrated here and elsewhere over the past several days, an examination of the data does not support that proposition. Further, if the issue one of reward, what kind of reward is a failed vote?

Indeed, that leads me to the bottom line: it would be utterly foolish for Bush to pursue the gay marriage amendment for the simple reason that it would lose (there can be no doubt about that fact). Why spend time, effort and energy on a loser (and one likely to garner bad press)? If the issue is one of “rewards” one guesses that the evangelicals would prefer conservative judges on the bench—a fight that might could actually be won-over a faux fight that wastes political capital for a foregone conclusion that will be utter failure. If the Presidnet pursues the gay marriage amendment, loses, and is furher painted as a right-wing extremist on social issues that will simply demand his ability to appoint conservative, constructionist judges. Is a losing fight really worth creating that type of scenario?

Further, not only is engaging in an activity that will certainly fail a bad idea in terms of waste, it is not politically smart to work hard just to label oneself a loser. Such things do matter, in the grand scheme of things. Don Quixote is all fine and good, but tilting at windmills isn’t always good politics—and in this case it would be very bad politics.

If the president has any illusions about serious tax reform, social security reform, and winning the coming fights on the court nominations, then there is no point engaging in a doomed fight when there are plenty of difficult fights to be had.

Don’t forget: it takes 2/3rds of both chambers of Congress to propose an amendment. If Bush couldn’t get 60 Senators for his judicial nominees in the 108th Congress, by what magic will he get 67 for a gay marriage ban in the 109th? And that is moot, because he couldn’t get the need votes in the House, either (it’s not like it was close in the recent vote).

Further, since it would appear for the moment that DOMA is working, and the states are deciding, there is even more reason not to engage in a fight. And if DOMA is challenged, where will it end up? The Supreme Court—which brings us back to what the important fights may well be (not to mention more winnable ones).

It is really all a matter of practical politics.

Filed under: US Politics

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3 Comments»

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  1. The Republican Party does not owe the evangelicals anything. They chose to sit out the 2000 election because Bush was a sinner. I have my doubts that they participated much in this election. They are single-issue voters who end up doing more harm than good. They are as bad as any of the fringe groups on the left.

    The evangelicals need to grow up and realize we are in the world, not some fantasy paradise.

    The impression I get from the evangelical side is that they are more interested in imposing their views on those they don’t like, than they are in being part of a free society.

    Comment by Remy Logan — Tuesday, November 9, 2004 @ 12:40 am

  2. Actually, I think that it ends up that the proportion of evangelicals who voted in 2004 was the same as in 2000 (i.e., percentage, not raw numbers).

    And to be fair: I think you overstate your criticisms quite a bit.

    Comment by Steven Taylor — Tuesday, November 9, 2004 @ 9:15 am

  3. I do agree that I my criticisms are harsh. On the other hand, the comment posted is the toned down version of my feelings.

    I don’t think that the evangelical’s search for political power is healthy for the Republican Party. Reagan kept them at arm’s length, as has Bush. The antics of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell refelcted negatively on Reagan. Robertson still hasn’t learned the lesson that preaching and politicking need to be kept seperate. What this all comes down to is that I agree with what you are saying:

    Further, not only is engaging in an activity that will certainly fail a bad idea in terms of waste, it is not politically smart to work hard just to label oneself a loser. Such things do matter, in the grand scheme of things. Don Quixote is all fine and good, but tilting at windmills isn’t always good politics—and in this case it would be very bad politics.

    I’m just not being classy about it.

    Comment by Remy Logan — Tuesday, November 9, 2004 @ 11:02 am

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