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Topics In the News
President Obama Opposes Anti-Gay Marriage Amendments
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 04/09/12
Last updated on: 04/09/12
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Campaign Manager Matt McTighe of Mainers United for Marriage.

On April 9, 2012, President Obama's campaign in Minnesota announced that the campaign will oppose the state's proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The amendment will appear on the November 2012 ballot. The administration had earlier announced that the President opposes a similar amendment that is slated for North Carolina's May 8, 2012 ballot.

The statement issued by the President's Minnesota campaign is identical to the one issued in reference to the North Carolina proposed amendment: "While the President does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples."

Indeed, in 2008 candidate Barack Obama issued a statement opposing California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the golden state, but--due to a colossal error of judgment that rose to the level of gross incompetence--the statement was not used by the No on Proposition 8 campaign.

In addition to the constitutional amendments on the ballots in North Carolina and Minnesota, there will almost certainly be efforts to repeal the recently passed marriage equality laws in Washington and Maryland. In Maine, there will a referendum that, if passed, will create marriage equality in the state.

Prospects of passing the marriage equality amendment in Maine are looking good. Recent polls show a majority of Mainers in favor of marriage equality, and Maine's advocacy group, EqualityMaine, is well organized and experienced, having fought several ballot issues over the years.

Because the Maine amendment is proactive, it is especially important: it marks the first time that gay rights groups have originated a referendum in favor of marriage equality. Passage of the initiative would send a powerful message. It would mean that just 3 years ago after vetoing a marriage equality law that had been enacted by the legislature, Mainers decided to adopt it by popular vote.

It is thought that Washington voters are likely to approve the marriage equality there if it is subjected to a referendum. After all, Washington voters rejected the 2009 attempt to veto the state's all-but-marriage domestic partnership law.

Prospects for success in Minnesota, Maryland, and North Carolina are more difficult to measure.

Recent polls have shown the anti-gay amendment in Minnesota slightly ahead, but Minnesota has a tradition of liberalism on social issues, and the statement in opposition to the amendment by President Obama, who is popular in the state, will certainly help. It is expected that the state's Democratic establishment will actively oppose the amendment.

The latest polls in Maryland have indicated that those opposed to the recently passed marriage equality law currently hold a small lead. If President Obama campaigns against the referendum to repeal the marriage equality law in Maryland, however, that will help greatly, perhaps especially with the state's large African-American population, which seems now to oppose the law by a double-digit margin.

David Mixner, writing in his "Live from Hell's Kitchen" blog, emphasizes why Maryland may be difficult to win and why it is important that we do win.

Not to compete in Maryland would betray the Democratic establishment we pressured to pass the marriage equality bill and it would forfeit an opportunity to win over the African-American community, who should be our allies.

Perhaps the most problematic state is North Carolina. Amendment One would prohibit not only same-sex marriage but also recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Polls in the state have yielded perplexing results. Some have shown 60% of the voters in favor of Amendment One, even though other polls have shown that almost 60% of the residents of the state are in favor of either marriage equality or civil unions for same-sex couples.

Although most prognosticators early wrote off the prospects for a gay rights victory in North Carolina, some have become convinced that it is possible to defeat Amendment One.

The best case for victory in North Carolina has been made by Adam Bink of the Courage Campaign. In an op-ed published in The Advocate, Bink points out that there are good reasons to believe that--with sufficient education--Amendment One can be defeated.

Bink concludes his op-ed by declaring, "I'll take the wager that the most progressive southern state of them all has come a long way on this issue and is poised to come even further May 8--if we suspend our belief that Amendment One will pass just because conventional wisdom says it will. We've seen bigger political upsets, and with just a few weeks to go until May 8, our movement is poised to see another one."

It goes without saying that all the campaigns for equal rights need money and volunteers. Perhaps the most urgent need is for the campaign in North Carolina. Contributions may be made to the Coalition to Protect All North Carolina Families here.

In the video below, Matt McTighe, the newly-appointed campaign manager for Mainers United, asks, "Will You Answer the Call?"

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