Social conservatives and defenders of traditional marriage won tremendous strategic victories in ballot initiatives on Nov. 4. First and foremost, the defenders of traditional marriage overturned the California Supreme Court’s legalization last June of same-sex marriage.
Despite being outspent nearly 2 to1 and having to overcome California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s arbitrary decision to rewrite the original ballot language of Proposition 8 in a way calculated to present it in the most negative light possible, the proponents of traditional marriage won by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin.
Given the demographics of California, traditional marriage advocates would be justified in concluding that if they can prevail in California, they can prevail anywhere in the United States when the issue is put directly to the people to decide.
Traditional marriage also won an impressive victory in Florida. That state’s traditional marriage advocates had a particularly difficult barrier to overcome–a state requirement that any constitutional amendment garner a minimum of 60 percent of the vote. In fact, the opponents of same-sex marriage exceeded that legal hurdle by gaining a 62 percent to 38 percent victory in spite of being outspent 3 to 1 by their opponents.
In Arizona, the only state that has ever voted down a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman (in a very close vote in 2006), traditional marriage advocates returned this election cycle with an amendment which contained much clearer language. The result–the passage of a state constitutional amendment by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin, which not only defines marriage as being only between one man and one woman, but also prohibits Arizona from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Why did the defense of traditional marriage win such strong victories in states as diverse as California and Florida? One reason is that turnout increased substantially among the African-American population as they came out to vote for Barack Obama. In California, 70 percent of African-Americans voted for Proposition 8 (outlawing same-sex marriage) and 71 percent of black voters supported traditional marriage in Florida.
Ironically, the Obama-inspired surge of black voters helped pass constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage in two states carried by Sen. Obama–California and Florida.