Check out the Colbert video above. Funny, as always, it’s a strident mocking of the Mormon Church for a gay kiss incident in Salt Lake City last summer. Police handcuffed and cited a gay couple for “kissing and hugging” on the city’s Main Street. That part of the street, it turns out, was bought by the church. Main Street in downtown Salt Lake is church property.
Lesbian and Gay people won the culture war long ago; it’s a small, highly motivated minority, frightened by the pace of change, that continues to hold us legal hostage. When freedom comes, supporters of state sanctioned bigotry will look back embarrassed. Until then, they’re fodder for bloggers and late night comics.
While voters scored a victory for equality in Kalamazoo, MI (!!!) and approved Washington State’s Referendum 71 (“everything but marriage”), early optimism for a surprise win in Maine proved to be wrong. Nate Silver digs into what happened and why:
Question 1. Maine votes Yes on Question 1 — which means no on gay marriage — by a margin of about 52-48. Turnout was extremely high and should eventually surpass 500,000 voters, about where it was during the 2006 midterms. This fact was initially thought to favor the pro-gay marriage side — but, obviously, it didn’t. The results showed a very strong urban-rural divide, with the initiative being rejected by a margin of about 2:1 in Portland but racking up big margins in smaller towns and rural areas, especially in the north of the state.
We had given Question 1 about a 70 percent chance of being defeated based on a combination of an analysis of the polling and a statistical model. I don’t know how much time I’m supposed to spend defending being on the wrong side of a 70:30 bet — we build in a hedge for a reason — but here comes a little self-reflection. As for the polling, I think we have to seriously consider whether there is some sort of a Bradley Effect in the polling on gay rights issues, although one of the pollsters (PPP, which had a very bad night in NY-23) got it exactly right. As for the model, I think I’ll need to look whether the urban-rural divide is a significant factor in a state in addition to its religiosity: Maine is secular, but rural. At the end of the day, it may have been too much to ask of a state to vote to approve gay marriage in an election where gay marriage itself was the headline issue on the ballot. Although the enthusiasm gap is very probably narrowing, feelings about gay marriage have traditionally been much stronger on the right than the left, and that’s what gets people up off the couch in off-year elections.
I certainly don’t think the No on 1 campaign can be blamed; by every indication, they ran a tip-top operation whereas the Yes on 1 folks were amateurish. But this may not be an issue where the campaign itself matters very much; people have pretty strong feelings about the gay marriage issue and are not typically open to persuasion. There’s going to be an effort by many on the left to blame Barack Obama for his lack of leadership on gay rights issues; I think the criticism is correct on its face, but I don’t know how much it has to do with the defeat in Maine. A more popular Democratic governor, for instance, who had been a bit quicker on the trigger in his support of gay marriage, might have helped more.
I’m not among those blaming Obama. And I’m not fretting about the Democratic election losses last night being blamed on him. Republicans should savor their slight victories. Those wins, rooted as they are in propagated fear, will give Obama’s side focus in 2010.