Sunday, August 13, 2006

Gay Marriage Amendments Will Have Little Impact on 2006 Elections

The Christian right, with the full blessing and support of Bush political guru Karl Rove, has sought to place ballot initiatives for state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage in as many states as possible to galvanize the conservative base and aid in the election of conservative Republican candidates. This year eight states will consider gay marriage bans, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. A look at the congressional races in those states, however, indicates that those ballot initiatives will have little impact on who controls Congress after the 2006 elections.

Four of these states (Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina and South Dakota) have no Senate race this year. The incumbents are considered safe in two of these states. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) are safe bets for re-election. The ballot initiative in Tennessee could boost the chances of Republicans holding the seat of retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Rep. Harold Ford (D) faces a tough race against Bob Corker (R), a former mayor of Chattanooga. In Virginia, Sen. George Allen (R) is currently well ahead of his Democrat opponent, Jim Webb, a former Navy Secretary in the Reagan administration; however, his re-elect numbers have been below 50 percent in recent polls. If this race is close, the marriage amendment may aid Allen's re-election.

As far as the House races are concerned, four of the states have no competitive House races (Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee). Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin each have one competitive House race, while Arizona has two competitive seats. That leaves just 6 House seats located in states where the presence of a gay marriage amendment on the ballot could affect the outcome of control of the House of Representatives. Democrats need a total of 15 net seats in order to recapture control of the House of Representatives.

At least 3 competitive House races here in Indiana, which could have been impacted by the issue, will not be because Indiana's proposed ban on same-sex marriages must be approved by two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly. Former House Speaker Pat Bauer (D) blocked consideration of the amendment during the 2003-04 over the vocal opposition of then-Minority Leader Brian Bosma. When the Republicans recaptured control of the House after the 2004 election, newly-elected House Speaker Brian Bosma quickly passed the amendment after it passed out of the Senate.

The Christian right would have most assuredly used this diversionary issue to whip up the conservative base, and in so doing, would have aided the re-election of three current GOP members struggling for their survival this year, including Rep. Chris Chocola, Rep. John Hostettler and Rep. Mike Sodrel. Instead, these members will face an electorate upset about rising gas prices, the management of the war in Iraq, immigration and corruption in Congress. If Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth or Baron Hill are successful in unseating their GOP opponents, they will owe their elections in part to Rep. Pat Bauer for delaying the placement of this mean-spirited and divisive issue on our Indiana ballot. The fact that it isn't on the ballot also increases the likelihood of Democrats recapturing the Indiana House. And if that happens, a gay marriage ban may not make the Indiana ballot by 2008 either.


Anonymous said...

AI: I think the following is true (please correct if not true)

In this state, a COnstitutional Amendment must pass two separate sessions of (America's Worst State) Legislature. We're not waiting on the second piece of that.

If the Dems recapture the House, and this issue isn't called up for two years, it has to start again at square one in 2009.

Which is a good ting.

Gary R. Welsh said...

You are correct anonymous. Article 16 of the Indiana Constiution requires approval by consecutive sessions of the General Assembly. It is also the case that if the wording is altered in the second session, the process would have to begin anew.

Anonymous said...

That's just great.

Happy dance.

Two possible strategies: move a comma, making it a change. Or, refuse to call it down whatsoever.

All big IFs--IF the House goes Dmeocratic.

Anonymous said...

Let's be honest with GLBT voters and realize that SOME form of a marriage amendment WILL be passed in the next General Assembly. Even if the Dems take control, they can hardly afford to stonewall this in the House, while the Senate blithely passes the Wicked Senator from the North (Hershman) version as they did in 2005.

The key will be what form will it take? Will it delete the ill-defined and egregious second line -- section B? Will it be even more harsh?

If it is changed even one line-letter, word-- the clock starts again and forces it to go before another general assembly -- pushing the vote off til 2010.

Which Dem wouldn't rather have the 2008 (Presidential and Governor's races) election WITHOUT a marriage amendment on it?

Anonymous said...

So when the people get to decide this issue (as they should since they and their elected legislators are the proper and legitimate authorities) then its 'divisive' and 'diversionary', but when a few judges usurp power over the issue, and abuse their power in rendering some absurd imposition of gay marriage/civil unions, then its okay? Do you think that is somehow unifying?