Gay Marriage Vote to Wait in California?

Another vote on gay marriage in California next year is looking less and less likely, as the New York Times reports: LOS ANGELES -- Discouraged ...
by | July 28, 2009

Another vote on gay marriage in California next year is looking less and less likely, as the New York Times reports:

LOS ANGELES -- Discouraged by stubborn poll numbers and pessimistic political consultants, major financial backers of same-sex marriage are cautioning gay rights groups to delay a campaign to overturn California's ban on such unions until at least 2012.

Earlier this year, many supporters of same-sex marriage seemed eager to mount a 2010 campaign to overturn Proposition 8, which was passed by California voters in November and defined marriage as "between a man and a woman."

But the timing of another campaign has since been questioned by several of the movement's big donors, including David Bohnett, a millionaire philanthropist and technology entrepreneur who gave more than $1 million to the unsuccessful campaign to defeat Proposition 8.

If the California ballot measure is delayed, I'll be watching whether the competing sides in the gay marriage debate will refocus their energy on other states. Prop. 8 in California received so much money and attention last year that it probably was the second most closely watched vote in the country, after the presidential election.

There were good reasons for that attention. California is the most populous state in the country and the result of Prop. 8 was very much in doubt until the returns started coming in. Plus, the vote came with added significance because the state had already allowed gay marriages for a few months.

Nonetheless, it was striking how little attention Florida and Arizona, which also voted on gay marriage last year, received in comparison. The vote in Arizona was noteworthy because the state had rejected a gay marriage ban in 2006. This time it passed with 56% of the vote.

Florida's vote was noteworthy because the state's requirement that constitutional amendments receive 60% of the vote to pass created a challenge for gay marriage foes. The gay marriage ban ultimately passed with 62% of the vote.

So, will smaller states such as Maine, which will vote on same-sex marriage this November, be treated as central fronts in the fight over gay marriage or inconsequential backwaters? It's still fairly early, but right now the fundraising for the competing sides in Maine is only in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's almost absurdly low compared to the $80 million campaign that was Prop. 8.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.

More from Politics