Momentum Builds Against Proposed Ohio gay-marriage ban

by Randy Shaw on October 21, 2004

While the focus is on Ohio’s presidential race, there has been a dramatic shift against the state’s initiative to ban gay marriage. Once ahead by a 65% margin, the initiative banning gay marriage-Issue 1-is now opposed by the state’s Republican Governor, its two Republican US Senators, and the state’s leading newspapers. By denying legal status to all domestic partners, Issue 1 could well be facing defeat.

Gay marriage bans are on the ballots of several states as part of a Republican strategy to get conservative voters to the polls to support President Bush. Ohio’s Issue 1 seemed like a slam dunk, until Ohioans Protecting the Constitution, the group opposing the measure, alerted the public to some of its lesser known provisions.

One of these provisions prohibited local and state government from recognizing the legal status of unmarried couples, regardless of gender. In other words, Issue I bans the domestic partners laws now commonplace in cities across America.

Ohio has had trouble keeping its young people from leaving the state. If an unmarried heterosexual couple could get health benefits in St. Louis or Chicago but not in Cleveland or Columbus, young talent would flow out of Ohio at an even faster rate.

That’s why Ohio’s conservative Republican Governor Bob Taft came out against Issue 1 in a highly publicized statement last week. Taft stated that “advancing Ohio’s prosperity requires that we retain and attract young and talented knowledge workers.”

The states two Republican Senators, Mike Dewine and George Voinovich, have joined such conservative major city newspapers as the Columbus Dispatch and Cincinnati Enquirer in opposing Issue 1.

While Taft and others have directly focused on the portion of the initiative impacting straight couples, these conservative politicians realize that discouraging lesbians and gays from living and working in the state will not help the state’s troubled economy.

The local ABC-TV news affiliate announced last night that its poll now has Issue 1 ahead by only a 48-45 margin. The standard rule for winning initiatives is that they need to be ahead by at least 50% within two weeks before the election, as undecided voters tend to vote no.

With all the attention on Kerry v. Bush, Issue 1 is not a high-profile campaign. It has not become the “wedge” or mobilizing issue that conservatives sought, and its backers now face the prospect of an embarrassing defeat.

USA TODAY update—-Two days after its blaring headline claiming that Bush has an 8 point lead, the paper’s lead editorial states “Polls provide useful data, but odds are, they’re off.” The editorial goes on to state that “polls are too crude a tool to tell us much about who is going to win, or even who is leading at the moment.”

More perfect material for John Stewart. I’d love to see him ask the paper why they headlined a poll result they now concede is not only meaningless, but misleading.

TV Commercial update—-I saw my first Swift Vote Veterans for Truth ad, and Columbus (from where this is written) has two stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting. That’s the network which has lost over $100 million since word leaked of its plans to run a forty minute anti-Kerry film on all 62 of its stations.

During the Cards-Astros game, FOX News Network ran something it called “Issues 2004.” The issue was the health care crisis. The screen then showed a 30-second talk from George W. Bush on his health-care proposals.

The pseudo news report ended without us hearing from John Kerry. Nor was Kerry’s health stance included during the next two innings. I did not see most of the game and perhaps FOX gave Kerry a chance before Bush—but I doubt it.

On Tuesday, Dick Cheney told Ohioans that they should expect to be hit by a nuclear bomb if Kerry is elected. This could mean that Bush-Cheney will update the legendary mushroom cloud commercial used by Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Johnson used the bomb to argue that Goldwater’s recklessness would cause him to unleash a nuclear war; Bush-Cheney is arguing that it is Kerry’s lack of recklessness that will provoke a nuclear nightmare.

So much for progress.

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