November 4, 2004


A drubbing for same-sex marriage: In all 11 states where they were on the ballot, measures banning same-sex unions won. (Brad Knickerbocker, 11/04/04, CS Monitor)

The resounding "no" that voters gave to officially recognizing homosexual couples as married marks a major setback for the gay-marriage movement - and shows how the issue continues to divide the nation politically and geographically.

In all 11 states where they were on the ballot, measures banning same-sex marriage won - in most states overwhelmingly. Even in socially liberal Oregon, where gay-rights activists poured resources into defeating the measure, it passed handily. The other states where the measure passed were Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah.

"Given the success of these measures, we can expect other states to follow suit," says Craig Rimmerman, professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y.

With judges and elected officials in Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey, Louisiana, California, and elsewhere weighing in, there's no doubt the issue has considerable political significance.

Does the near universal repudiation of a radical alteration to our society and its traditions really suggest a divided nation more than a united one?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 4, 2004 9:32 AM

The problem I have is how do we tell the Episcopal Church or the Unitarians or the Reform Jews whom they can and cannot marry in accordance with their interpretations of their respective faiths. These aren't Wiccans or Satanists but mainstream American religious denominations.

I'm not in favor of 'gay marriage' in a synagogue. I see it as clearly contrary to Torah, no adherent of the 'Torah of What's Happening Now' am I. However, I see no way that I as a member of another synagogue can tell a synagogue whom it can marry. That's just beyond my power. And if I can't tell a synagogue what to do, how can I presume to tell a church what to do?

Perhaps, the answer is getting the government out of the marriage business altogether except for those people who want a specifically civil marriage.

Posted by: Bart at November 4, 2004 10:57 AM


They aren't mainstream--they're part of the 25%.

Posted by: oj at November 4, 2004 11:44 AM


I don't think that is Bart's point.

Rather, with respect to the 1st Amendment, is it even possible for the government to tell a religious sect who it may, or may not, marry?

BTW--my opposition to these measures is no secret. However, I think it is beyond rich that self annointed progressives automatically assume their position correct, and disagreement divisive.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 4, 2004 12:18 PM


No, it can't tell a sect--it can, however, not recognize the marriage.

Posted by: oj at November 4, 2004 12:24 PM

Unitarians are mainstream?

Posted by: Vince at November 4, 2004 12:37 PM

It's a nation divided betwen the people and the judges who think they are the rulers.

(And we told the Latter Day Saints, in no uncertain terms, that their marriage practices were unacceptable, so there is precedent.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 4, 2004 12:41 PM

The short answer to question at the end of BK's article is no. We are not a divided nation. The "near universal repudiation of a radical alteration to our society and our traditions" does clearly show that there is not unanimity on the subject of same-sex marriage. The clash between folks on both sides of the issue could (and is) definitly threatening our unity. A good subject for a future post might be unity amidst diversity.

Posted by: Dave W. at November 4, 2004 1:35 PM

I bet few voters went into the booth worrying about the precedent set by the Mormon law of 1890.

Once we got rid of the bastardy laws, the reason for having civil marriage laws kind of evaporated. What can you do with 'em that you cannot do without 'em?

(On NPR, I heard a law professor from U. of Michigan wonder what the anti-homesexual marriage vote would mean, would it prevent sex partners from having valid powers-of-attorney, for example; as if only married people ever write powers of attorney to each other. Crazy.)

And despite the alleged massive return to traditional Christian values, I haven't heard anyone proposing to revive bastardy laws. Yet nothing is more traditionally Christian.

Though none of the local commentators painted them as 'moral values' questions, we in Hawaii had some Constitutional amendments that were very much based on conceptions of 'right' (as opposed to strictly legalistic) behavior.

One would allow the Legislature to defining continuing sexual assault of a minor as a pattern, without requiring the prosecution to establish exact times, places.

It passed with 66%, though Kerry took the state 55%.

I am unpersuaded that those people who like to set themselves up as the moral teachers of the nation really get through; people are all over the place on 'values' issues.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at November 4, 2004 3:47 PM