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The Birth of the Left-Wing Wedge Issue

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Gay Wedding

Here’s a little datum that may have slid by you: Gallup has just found that on social issues, the country is now equally split between liberals and conservatives. The question was: “Thinking about social issues, would you say your views are” very conservative, conservative, liberal, or very liberal?

And the answer came back: Grouping the first two into one category and the last two into another, it was a dead heat at 31 percent each. This is pretty close to seismic. Just five years ago, the conservative edge on social issues was 39 to 22 percent. Now it’s totally wiped out. The implications for our electoral politics are obvious and enormous, and I mean good-enormous.

I’m not sure when people started using the phrase “wedge issue.” But we’re all sure what wedge issues are: They’re cultural politics issues used in elections by the right–and always only the right–to drive a wedge into the liberal coalition. Nixon did it expertly, even though the phrase wasn’t in use back then. Reagan did it well, cleaving so many working-class white ethnics away from the Democratic Party. George H.W. Bush and Jim Baker did it–remember Willie Horton (race was the original wedge issue). And Bush the younger and Karl Rove expanded it out to include guns and gays.

Authored By Michael Tomasky – See the Full Story at The Daily Beast

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USA: Marriage Equality Stance Helped President Obama in 2012

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

titleA new study confirms that marriage equality was a wedge issue that worked in favor of Democrats and President Obama in 2012.

Gay City News reports:

Professor Garretson has used state of the art methods and the conclusion that he draws is not so surprising when we think about the immense sea change we have seen over these years,” said Patrick Egan, a professor of politics and public policy at New York University who was not involved in the study. “It used to be that all the energy was on the anti-marriage side, but over the course of the decade enthusiasm shifted toward those in favor of extending marriage to same-sex couples… It became an advantage.”… In a series of complex calculations that used voter enthusiasm, predicted turnout, and actual turnout, Garretson estimated that the four 2012 marriage ballot initiatives gave President Barack Obama an additional 42,000 votes in Maine, 49,000 votes in Maryland, 89,000 votes in Minnesota, and 108,000 votes in Washington State. The Minnesota vote was a ban on same-sex marriage that voters shot down, and voters approved same-sex marriage in the other three states.

Remember when gay marriage was a wedge issue for the right? What a difference a decade makes…

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Why Marriage Equality Polarized France

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Paris, FranceMany assumed that France, with its secular culture and its comfort level with most things sexual, would pass marriage equality easily with little rancor. Instead, the country is seen some of the largest demonstrations against gay marriage in the world. The Global Post examines why:

Smelling blood after a bruising first year for President Francois Hollande, right-wing leaders have mobilised a fierce campaign. But sociologists argue that France’s social fabric and identity crisis also helps explain the ferocity of the debate… The divisions over gay marriage in France follow political lines, and the opposition has united against the bill, seizing an opportunity to pile pressure on an already embattled administration. “It was the first chance for the right-wing electorate to express their opposition to Francois Hollande’s presidency and (Prime Minister) Jean-Marc Ayrault’s government,” political analyst Jean-Yves Camus said. After Nicolas Sarkozy’s failed reelection bid and subsequent political retirement left France’s mainstream right in tatters, the opportunity was threefold for his UMP party, Camus said.

The Post also points to adoption as an issue:

Opinion polls have routinely indicated that while a majority of French people support gay marriage, a slight majority opposes adoption rights for homosexual couples. “It was clumsy of the government to initially suggest that the bill would also legalise medically assisted procreation” for homosexual couples, said Michel Wievorka, one of France’s most renowned sociologists.

In many ways, it seems a replay of what happened in the United States, when the American right decided to use gay marriage as a wedge issue against the left. It’s not so much that the politicians on the right are against marriage equality, Instead, they see it as an issue that can drive their base to the polls. And here I thought this was a uniquely American quality, using a social issue in such a divisive manner!

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Is Gay Marriage Losing Its Effect as a Wedge Issue for the GOP?

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Gay MarriageEight years is an aeon in politics. Witness the waning potency of the gay-marriage issue.

During the 2004 campaign, Republican strategists put gay marriage on referendum ballots in key swing states, as a “wedge” issue to unnerve Democrats and gin up the conservative base for President George W. Bush. The Massachusetts high court had just ruled for legalization, and hostility toward the concept was the centrist position in America.

This is no longer true. Granted, social conservatives voiced anger Tuesday when, for the first time ever, a federal court of appeals declared that gay marriage was a constitutional expression of equal rights. But most Americans will shrug and move on. As evidenced by all the polls, tolerance is the new centrism.

Full Story from BND.com

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Is Gay Marriage Losing it’s “Wedge Issue” Power for the GOP?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

President Obama’s decision to abandon his legal support for the Defense of Marriage Act has generated only mild rebukes from the Republicans hoping to succeed him in 2012, evidence of a shifting political climate in which social issues are being crowded out by economic concerns.

The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that after two years of defending the law — hailed by proponents in 1996 as an cornerstone in the protection of traditional values — the president and his attorney general have concluded it is unconstitutional.

In the hours that followed, Sarah Palin’s Facebook site was silent. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, was close-mouthed. Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, released a Web video — on the labor union protests in Wisconsin — and waited a day before issuing a marriage statement saying he was “disappointed.”

Full Story from the NY Times

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Is GOP Setting Up Marriage Equality as The 2012 Wedge Issue?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Opponents of same-sex marriage have created a three-pronged effort that insures the issue will be a key topic in the Presidential election. There are efforts underway by Republicans legislators in Iowa, the first caucus state, and New Hampshire, the first primary state, to end their existing marriage laws. In Iowa, the GOP-controlled House has begun the process of passing a bill to put a ban on the ballot. In New Hampshire, both the House and Senate are now GOP-led and they could try to repeal the law later this year or in 2012. In Congress, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) indicated that he’s going to push legislation to block DC’s marriage law.

It’s like an anti-marriage perfect storm. These efforts guarantee that the GOP presidential candidates (except, of course, Fred Karger) who are traipsing through Iowa and New Hampshire will try to burnish their right-wing cred by engaging in the usual gay-bashing. And, the effort by GOPers in Congress adds fuel to the fire. We’ve already seen potential Republican candidates, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum, groveling before the haters. We can expect a lot more of that. And, just wait til the debates start. The GOP candidates will be doing contortions to show their base just how much they hate the gays.

Now, there’s something different about all three of the anti-gay efforts in DC, NH and Iowa. In each, it isn’t about preventing same-sex marriage. In those three jurisdictions, the homophobes are trying to take rights away from citizens. That should put these battles into a different light. If they can come for our rights, they can (and will) come for the rights of others.

Full Story from AmericaBlog

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Laura Asked George Not to Make Gay Marriage an Issue

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Laura Bush has a book of memoirs out now and Politico has some excerpts. This passage jumped out at me:

“In 2004 the social question that animated the campaign was gay marriage,” Mrs. Bush writes in her 456-page book. “Before the election season had unfolded, I had talked to George about not making gay marriage a significant issue. We have, I reminded him, a number of close friends who are gay or whose children are gay. But at that moment I could never have imagined what path this issue would take and where it would lead.”

I’ve said many times that I don’t think George W. Bush gave a damn about gay marriage. And Dick Cheney not only doesn’t care about stopping it, he’s actually for it. His daughter is, after all, in a gay marriage, with an adopted child that, by all accounts, the Cheneys treat no differently than any other grandchild.

Full Story from Science Blogs

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To subscribe to this blog, use the rss feed on the right, or use the form at right to join our email list. You can also email us at info@purpleunions.com. Or find us on Facebook – just search for Gay Marriage Watch (you’ll see our b/w wedding pic overlooking the Ferry Building and Bay Bridge in SF). We’re also tweeting daily at http://www.twitter.com/gaymarriagewatc.