Gay Marriage and the 2008 Campaign

I didn’t think this one would be back again as a campaign issue, but it seems that it will be.

There are a few differences this time around. First, if campaigning were a video game, the G.O.P. already used the one-time, battleground-state-gay-marriage-ballot supermove to defeat the 2004 Democrats, leaving them without the ability to use it again. You can’t write the same amendment to a state constitution twice, so that’s out of the question in important electoral states like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri and Kentucky It thus can’t be used to quite the same right-wing-voter motivation effect.

Second, Barack Obama doesn’t even support gay marriage. I had no idea that this was the case until I read it tonight. Liberal groups are apparently so excited that a liberal has a decent shot at the presidency that they have swept this normally liberal-upsetting factoid under the rug. (How mature of my fellow bleeding hearts to accept political nuance for a change.) Though Obama has an otherwise pro-gay-rights voting record, he is on the record against gay marriage. So it’s not really something that can be used against him the same way it could against John Kerry, who was more vague on everything.

I do, however, say that even as people continue to buy the Muslim rumor even after weeks of high-decibel tongue-clucking over Obama’s Christian pastor, so figuring out which smears will stick isn’t much of a logical pursuit.

Third, McCain is the candidate who is potentially the most impacted by this. Does McCain come out strongly against the California court in a bid for more religious-conservative support? Or does he stick to his relatively libertarian past talk on gay issues, in which he said he didn’t support a federal amendment banning gay marriage? (That’s libertarian by moralistic-Republican standards; he still opposes gay marriage on moral grounds and supports “don’t ask, don’t tell”.) I don’t think he’ll do anything beyond reiterating the “Marriage is between a man and a woman” boilerplate b.s.

Meanwhile, Godwin’s law has already come into play in this campaign—by the President himself!—and we’re still five months out from the election. While Bush technically compared Obama to Neville Chamberlain, I’m going to say that it still counts because Nazis were explicitly mentioned.

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4 Responses to “Gay Marriage and the 2008 Campaign”

  1. Nice use of Godwin’s law. I always forget about that thing.

  2. For anybody unfamiliar with this law, here is the explanation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwins_law

    Posted by Pat | May 16th, 2008 at 3:00 pm
  3. Throw out the lessons of history for fear of violating “Godwins law”? No thanks!

    For that reason the law should be strictly confined to instances of calling an opponent a Nazi or Nazi-like. Technically and importantly NOT a violation.

    Posted by slickdpdx | May 17th, 2008 at 4:39 pm
  4. I think the definition of the law allows for legitimate comparisons, like if someone were using genocidal propaganda or some sort of societal scapegoating and a commenter pointed out how that parallels the Nazis. The law can certainly backfire when people are too quick to declare something as “Godwin” when it’s in fact a useful historical exploration.

    This Bush thing, though, seems pretty suspect and politicized. Plus it’s just messed up to go to a foreign country and do domestic politicking in front of that country’s government.

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