That appears to have been the case in most areas of the nation in 2004, when states that had initiatves to ban same-sex marriage showed a much stronger Republican turnout at the polls.
The 2006 midterm elections, by contrast, showed that when the gay marriage question is overshadowed by other issues — in that instance, the Iraq war and the rash of Republican scandals — Democrats can win big.
When that happens, gays tend to benefit. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill to expand federal hate crimes protections to homosexuals earlier this year. And unlike recent GOP-controlled Congresses, this one is not planning to take up an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage.
Across the country, newly Democratic state legislatures have passed bolder gay rights laws, with New Hampshire legalizing gay civil unions and Oregon adopting domestic partnerships for gay couples.
Even in culturally conservative Iowa, where Democrats took the governor’s mansion and both houses of the legislature last year for the first time since 1964, gays earlier this year won their first civil rights protections.
With the 2008 Iowa presidential caucuses looming, last week’s dramatic gay marriage “victory” in Polk County threatens to halt such incremental gains for gay rights.
I understand that, but what is the alternative? Should GLBT activists simply not challenge the status quo and wait for politicians to push toward equality on their timetable?
No, they shouldn't. Understanding what happened in 2004, progressives in Iowa need to step up and not allow their elections to be overrun by social conservatives. Since it is reasonable to expect a strong pushback by the right, the left needs to match it.
The fight for equality is just that--a fight. It has become abundantly clear to me that the right will NOT back down, so it is incumbent upon those who believe in equal rights for everyone to match the right's resolve, tenacity, and energy. Don't be afraid to win a battle. Use a victory to energize the activists and strengthen the resolve.