Yes, she and HRC are right to denounce Senator Wayne Allard's reintroduction of the Federal Marriage Amendment. But, HRC is wrong to claim that those backing the bill are "out-of-touch (sic) . . . with the American public on the issue of writing discrimination into the Constitution." Unfortunately, that's just the problem. These Senators are not out of touch with their constituents. A good portion of the American public does favor amending the constitution to define marriage.
To be sure, the polls have not been entirely consistent on the topic. In a July 2004 survey of the polls on gay marriage, the Pew Research Center Pollwatch noted that despite "extensive public opposition to gay marriage, Americans are conflicted over whether to amend the Constitution to outlaw this practice." (FYI--Pew was (as far as I know) the only national poll to get the '04 election exactly right, forecasting that the President would trump Senator Kerry by a 51-48 margin.) Pew noted the mixed results in the polls:
Recent polls on a possible constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage have yielded very different results, with support as low as 36% and as high as 60%. . . . Opinion on this subject varies, depending on how the issue is framed.Emphasis added. Read the whole survey for a thoughtful analysis of the changes in the polls from survey to survey.
I wish Senator Allard had not reintroduced this bill. HRC was right to denounce him for doing so. And as much as we are upset with the reintroduction of this gratuitous -- and potentially dangerous -- amendment, millions of Americans will cheer its reintroduction. I daresay Senator Allard and his cosponsors have already received tens of thousands of phone calls and e-mails, thanking them for their efforts on behalf of the Marriage Protection Amendment (the MPA, as it has been renamed).
It strikes me as odd that HRC would define these Senators as out of touch with the American public. These Senators were all elected by American people in the states they represent, some as recently as last November. The man HRC poured its "hearts and souls" into defeating became on November 2 the first president in sixteen years to win a majority of the popular vote while the party whose candidates it overwhelmingly supported lost ground in both houses of Congress.
As I have written before, I oppose the FMA, even under its new name, the MPA. I salute HRC for denouncing its reintroduction. But, they need to understand the reality of the situation. A supermajority of gay Americans opposes gay marriage, while referenda banning gay marriage have passed by comfortable margins in every state where they have been put before the people for a vote, including such "blue" states as Michigan and Oregon.
We need to understand why. Why do a majority of Americans favor recognizing civil unions between two individuals of the same-sex while opposing gay marriage? We need to ponder the Pew Survey and get to the meaning of why different surveys give vastly differing results on popular support for (or opposition) to amending the constitution to define marriage.
No, HRC, unfortunately, Senator Allard is not out of touch with the American public on this issue. Certain gay organizations need to do more than to parrot the phrase "anti-family" every time they mention the bill. What is necessary is to understand why this amendment still enjoys strong support across vast regions of our country. Simply put, we opponents of this proposed constitutional amendment need to understand the concerns of those who favor it. And we must do what we can to change their minds.