Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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