Friday, October 27, 2006

Gay Marriage and the Senate

Just two days after Kate Clinton made her appearance here, and emphasized how sick she was of being a "wedgie" issue: "a thong between the cheek of church and the cheek of state," the New Jersey ruling on gays and marriage benefits has reignited the GOP.

In Virginia, the court decision could not have come at a better time for Senator George Allen, a Republican whose campaign for re-election had been thrown off course by allegations that he had used racially insensitive remarks. The Virginia ballot includes a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Mr. Allen supports it; his Democratic opponent, Jim Webb, argues that the ban is unnecessary.

On Thursday, Mr. Allen could be found in Roanoke at a rally held by backers of a ballot initiative to ban gay marriage. Victoria Cobb, an organizer of the events, said the New Jersey ruling was giving the cause “a new momentum.”

“It’s an issue that’s going to play a big role in the next 12 days,” Mr. Allen’s campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, said in an interview.

In Tennessee, another state with a proposal to ban gay marriage, Representative Harold E. Ford Jr., a Democrat running for the Senate, was sparring with Republicans over an advertisement in which the Republican National Committee asserts that Mr. Ford supports gay marriage — an assertion Mr. Ford says is wrong. On Thursday, he responded with his own advertisement, calling the Republican ad “despicable, rotten lies.”

Mr. Ford says he will vote for the Tennessee gay marriage ban. With early voting under way, the Republican candidate, Bob Corker, is telling voters that he has already cast his ballot in favor of the gay marriage ban.

And in Pennsylvania, where Senator Rick Santorum, the Senate’s leading Republican backer of a gay marriage ban, is fighting for his political survival, conservative advocacy groups were working furiously to revive the gay marriage debate. Pennsylvania does not have a ballot initiative.

“It’s an important wedge issue to talk about between candidates where there are two distinct viewpoints on the issue,” said Joseph Cella, president of Fidelis, a national Catholic advocacy group that has embraced Mr. Santorum for his views on abortion and gay marriage. Mr. Cella said his organization, which was also working to pass a gay marriage ban in Colorado, was contemplating an advertising campaign.

I don't see this wedgie issue working for Santorum; he's going down. But, it may very well tip the Senate to the GOP in Tennessee and Virginia. Hanno reports to me that he thinks it might influence some House races.

How screwed up is that? I am starting to curse this ruling, even though it was a real victory for gay rights. I do hope that when history looks back on this era, we will consider these homophobic white men, including Shrub, to be backward bigots who squashed Civil Rights.