21 Nov Mixed Election Success for Marriage
Mixed Election Success for Marriage
November 21 , 2006
In the recent 2006 election, the most significant impact on defending marriage was without a doubt the narrow defeat of the Arizona marriage amendment. While the turnover in control of the U.S. House and Senate to the Democratic Party also will have major impacts, it will likely be far less significant than this development.
Our defeat in Arizona is the first time that the voters of a state have turned down a marriage amendment. Up to now, we had a string of 20 straight successes in other states. Even the fact that seven additional states did pass marriage amendments on Election Day is overshadowed by this defeat.
This was a particular disappointment to me because before I was recently appointed president of United Families International I served as the president of our UFI Arizona chapter. For the past year and a half, we have been in the forefront of the effort to first gather enough signatures to put the amendment on the ballot and then to work at garnering the support necessary to pass it.
There are a number of reasons why we lost. A confusing ballot was one factor. Voters were confused by the “yes” and “no” vote descriptions on the ballot. Many who voted “no” actually intended to vote “yes” but were confused. Another reason is that while we were spending a great deal of time, energy and money getting the amendment on the ballot the anti-amendment crowd was busy organizing against it and amassing a huge campaign war chest. Over all, we were drastically outspent. The opposition had the support of a biased media and plenty of early money.
As difficult as this made things for us, these efforts by amendment opponents were not unique to Arizona. Following their stunning defeats on marriage amendments in 2004, the homosexual activists and their allies mapped out a new strategy that emphasized earlier organization and fundraising. We can now expect to always be heavily outspent by the anti-marriage crowd.
What made Arizona different from previous amendment fights is that for the first time amendment opponents were able to shift the focus of the campaign entirely away from marriage to talking only about “benefits.” In the past, a major feature of their campaigns has included trotting out “committed” same-sex couples and their children to try to put a more human face on their opposition. However, the Arizona amendment opponents ran away from the entire issue of homosexuality and same-sex couples with a speed and determination that was both astonishing and unprecedented.
By using a retired unmarried heterosexual couple as the “poster couple,” the opposition was able to deceive Arizona citizens into thinking that if the amendment passed, heterosexual couples would suffer. Their deceptive message claimed that retirement benefits and a wide range of health benefits would be withheld from unwed heterosexual couples. They completely threw aside any mention of their real goal of “marriage equality” or “homosexual rights” and focused entirely on one message: If a state marriage amendment passes, heterosexual couples will suffer. That misleading and deceptive message was what defeated the Arizona amendment.
While we countered this misinformation campaign the best we could, we were so massively outspent that we could not get the truth out widely enough and early enough to reassure voters to maintain majority support for the amendment.
There clearly are a number of lessons and conclusions we can draw from this defeat. The most important is that public support for defending traditional marriage remains strong, not just in Arizona but across the country. The success of the marriage amendments on the ballots in the other seven states proves that.
So, while the homosexual activists and their allies are bragging about their first defeat of a marriage amendment, they would do well to consider that the only way they were able to accomplish it was to totally disassociate themselves from their actual goal of eventually legalizing same-sex “marriage.” They may have won this battle, but we are still winning the war.
A second important lesson is that never again can UFI, or any other pro-marriage groups, allow them to get away with this tactic. There may be another half dozen or more states which will consider marriage amendments in 2008. We are starting now to do everything we can to make sure that the voters across the country understand clearly the tactics being used to deceive and mislead the public.
An additional important lesson is that we have to better fund future marriage amendment campaigns. While the public support for marriage remains very strong, we still must be better able to match the massive media campaigns that opponents will wage against all future marriage amendments. In my opinion, the disparity in media funding is probably the single most significant reason why the seven marriage amendments in this cycle passed with an average 64-percent support, down from the more than 70-percent support in the 2004 cycle.
In short, what happened in Arizona has been a useful and important wake up call. As a result, we will certainly be better prepared in the future.
May I express my sincere appreciation for the generous response of so many of you across the country to our urgent appeals in the closing days of the campaign to help us pass the Arizona amendment. The several hundred thousand dollars that UFI supporters contributed was the reason we were able to come so close to succeeding.
At this time, I am also asking your help. Please consider making an additional generous contribution to UFI. We diverted all the resources from other programs and projects that we possibly could to support our efforts to pass the marriage amendments in Arizona and other states. Now, unless we can make up for that program and project funding that we redirected, we will have to drastically cut back on these other critical UFI efforts to defend marriage and to protect and promote the family. We will have to do this at the very time when they going to be under even greater attack than before.
You can easily and securely make a contribution on line or print out a form to mail in a contribution if you prefer. All contributions to UFI are tax deductible.
Thank you for all you are doing to support us in our efforts!