Will Virginia Marriage Amendment Have a “Macaca” Moment?

Eight weeks – that is all the time left to convince the Virginia electorate to vote against the marriage amendment.

Opponents of this amendment, gay and straight, have organized and are working hard to inform the public.

Polls suggest that the amendment will pass, however, it’s not a slam-dunk and there exists the real possibility that the amendment could be defeated – and that would be the first defeat of a state initiated definition of marriage amendment in the country.

I’ve argued before that although I know the opponent organizations have a robust plan to fight, I’ve not seen the necessary plan to win. This fight has been a long one – decades long – of convincing the public that being gay or lesbian is NOT a moral choice but is a state of being, and as such these individuals should be afforded the same rights and benefits that straight citizens take for granted – and not be stigmatized and marginalized due to their sexual orientation.

The proponents often seem more dedicated and certain in their crusade – and they buttress their position with two main arguments: (1) marriage traditionally has been between only a man and a woman, and (2) homosexual sex is immoral.

And despite the obvious religious underpinnings of their arguments, they insist that they are in concert with traditional American values. They dismiss the conclusions of the scientific and medical communities. They dismiss the contrary arguments of many legal experts. They dismiss the opposing interpretations of some theologians. They seem intransient in their beliefs.

Progressives, liberals, younger voters, Democrats appear to be outweighed by the proponents at this time.

But this is not just another skirmish in the fight for gay civil rights, this is the battle, that if lost will most likely take a generation if ever to reverse – if this amendment is passed, gay and lesbian Virginians, their partners, and their children may be forever cast as less worthy in the eyes of the state. And this important battle will be lost.

There are perhaps 250,000 gays and lesbians in Virginia. Many will stay and live under this law. Some will leave. Perhaps some gays and some gay friendly businesses will not see Virginia as inviting. I’ve seen not a single credible argument that suggests how Virginia will be better off with the passage of this amendment.

If you have read this far, then I have a challenge to make to you. If you feel, as I do, that this is a fundamental issue in our state’s history and in the continuing fight for equality, liberty, and fairness, then I ask that you do something significant to help.

You may be a closeted gay person, a fair minded and empathetic straight person, a reasonable and common sense Virginian – but whoever you are, I ask that you see this issue with the urgency and priority it deserves. And I ask that you support the opposition to this amendment by offering your voice, your time, and certainly your money to fight this and change this from a plan to fight to a plan to win.

There are some deep pockets out there who have not yet seen that this effort can be won, and some with only pocket change who may be persuaded of the justness of this cause. If you are so moved please send your contribution to the Commonwealth Coalition – this is our civil rights fight in our time. Will we rise to the occasion?


Jack Landers said…
The right reasons are not going to successfully defeat this thing. If you want an argument that will actually get people to vote against this thing, see my blog entry at:


Push it and get other people to push it completely apart from any mention of gay rights. Fiscal conservatives who could care less about gay rights will turn out to vote against this thing if the word gets out.
Bill Garnett said…
Thanks Jack, but legal stuff is outside my expertise. I was aware of your blog and had seen that page.

There is reasonable argument that about 27% of our electorate are of a personality characterized as “authoritatively controlled conservatives” -- essentially personalities that look to "parent" figures for cues of how to vote and who are not particularly open-minded. I doubt these are swayable.

Authentic common sense conservatives (those who don't necessarily buy into the religious right bull shit), I believe, will respond to the strident and unreasonable attacks on minority rights -- and the intrusion of government into personal lives.

This is not to demean your approach, which I encourage you to present to the Commonwealth Coalition, and other groups who oppose this amendment.
jamie said…
I still haven't figured out a RATIONAL POLITICAL ARGUMENT for the Anti-Gay-Marriage Amendment. Short of playing to the close-minded majority's fear, there is no benefit. No revenue created. No taxes raised or lowered. Just discrimination for fear's sake.

I'm doing my best to help prevent that.
Bill Garnett said…
Jamie, I think that if there is a rational explanation, it is to prevent the possibility that Virginia courts would find an argument to invalidate current legislation that prevents same sex marriage. This is also a fear also of "activist judges".

I agree, and so do many legal scholars, that this amendment is not required -- but it "makes assurance doubly sure".

My sense it that this is a product of ignorance about homosexuality and homosexual relations, an unfounded fear of the consequences to children, and a blatant and seamy political ploy by the Republican establishment to energize the religious right base.
hr_conservative said…
Did you see the new SurveyUSA poll? 68%!
Bill Garnett said…
hr_conservative – Congratulations – seems you will certainly win. And although you have banished me from your blog, I will not do the same to you. For even though I disagree with you, I defend your right to your opinion. And as I believe in the basic freedom of speech in America, it would be hypocritical of me not to also practice it on my blog.

And from elementary school I learned, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me”. And from that I know that if there is an injury in name-calling, then that injury is to the community perception of the person who is doing the name-calling.

I really appreciated the opportunity to debate on your blog, and although I do not agree with you, I was concerned when you announced that you would be leaving your blog. You have my best wishes and I hope you will return soon to expressing your opinion and having a voice in our community conversation.
hr_conservative said…
I unbanished you. Did you see my last post. Just don't attack me. You may not like me, you may not respect my opinion. Just don't attack me personally.

I have actually come back, as what I have taken on will not require as much time as I thought, but will still require a lot of time. I will be very slow, but I will still post. You may find faster debate on other blogs though.
Bill Garnett said…
hr_conservative – I don’t dislike you – I don’t know you, but I like just about everyone and I imagine I’d like you as well. And I try to respect the opinions of everyone, as I hope everyone would respect mine; but of course we don’t always agree with each other’s opinions. That is why I have suggested over and over that we be clear about differentiating opinion from fact. I appreciate you not wanting to be attacked personally. I bristle as being referred to as a pervert, in the way I imagine an African-American would bristle as being called a “nigger”.

I would prefer a conversation to a debate; and a debate over a quarrel. In my opinion, the growing red/blue divide is not healthy for our country. The deadlock in Congress and seeming inability to move forward on solving common national problems (i.e. security, debt, loss of jobs, environmental and energy issues, Social Security, rising health care costs, illegal immigration), is again, in my opinion, related to this yelling back and forth between liberals and conservatives, when, in my opinion, some common sense moderation and empathy to each others arguments would prove useful.

hr_conservative, I am of the opinion that there are a portion of our population that are “authoritatively controlled conservatives” who for yet to be understood psychological reasons, even as adults, look to “father figures” they trust and respect to lead them to life choices and conclusions. There is a growing research in this field and the subject is a core element of the recent book, “Conservatives Without Conscience”, by John Dean. I’ve seen estimates that these individuals may account for as much as 27% of the population.

My experience with these personality types is that they are seldom open-minded, tend to present faith based beliefs as fact, and who throw up a steel wall when confronted with a fact, conclusion, argument, or even opinion that isn’t consistent with their belief system. It becomes a no-win situation to reach common agreement. If a belief were a fact – then one would not believe in it, one would know it. This is more than semantics.

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