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Liberals from Massachusetts:

It's always hard to tell about this, but it seems possible that the Ohio amendment banning same-sex marriage brought more religious conservatives to the polls, perhaps enough to make the difference — or at least to contribute substantially to the difference — in the close presidential race there. It's not certain; among other things, some speculate that this may have brought out many black voters who are anti-same-sex-marriage but who vote Democratic.

Still, if it's so, then it suggests that the Goodridge decision, by making people feel that traditional marriage rules are in jeopardy from courts, may have ended up costing (or helping cost) Kerry the election. And the decision may have had a similar effect not just in Ohio, but in other close states in which some voters associated Democrats with likely support for same-sex marriage, and assumed that Kerry appointees would be more likely than Bush appointees to implement Goodridge on the federal level.

Now, as I've blogged before, I'm tentatively in favor of allowing same-sex marriage; I would have voted against the Ohio ballot measure. And of course if one thinks that the Constitution really should be interpreted to ban opposite-sex-only marriage, then one may well support courts' deciding this, come what may. But I think that even supporters of same-sex marriage should recognize the possible political backlash that may come from such decisions being made by judges, based not on text or history, but on a moral argument (about the constitutional equality of same-sex and opposite-sex marriage) that faces broad, nationwide opposition.

UPDATE: John Fund in OpinionJournal's Political Diary takes a similar value. Likewise, my student Sean Hayes, whose parents are from Ohio, says that the anti-same-sex-marriage initiative was indeed a big issue there, and he thinks it could have indeed swayed 130,000 votes, and another reader makes the same point. Impossible to tell for sure, of course — but it does seem like this election might indeed have turned on the anti-Goodridge backlash.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Ohio and same-sex marriage:
  2. Liberals from Massachusetts:
More on Ohio and same-sex marriage:

Two conflicting reports. Patrick Lewis, a former student of mine who now practices in Ohio, writes:

I disagree that Issue 1 [the anti-same-sex marriage measure] was decisive for Bush. Indeed, locally, one of the big stories was how the black vote was split — they voted for Kerry and against Issue 1. Indeed, many Catholic voters here apparently did the same thing (around here, Catholic voters tend to be unionized workers).

Issue 1 was promoted in Ohio by Republican elected officials (most notably Ken Blackwell, who is the Sec[retary] of State . . .), but it's not altogether clear that Issue 1 actually had the effect of bringing Bush supporters to the polls. The gay marriage issue in general may have fired them up; but I'm sure it fired up religious conservatives all over the country, and was unrelated to Issue 1 in Ohio specifically. We're going to have to wait for more polls and exit surveys to come out and be analyzed to say for sure, but I would have to say that the war on terror, Iraq, and the economy were the 3 driving issues.

On the other hand, Prof. Bill Nancarrow at Curry College in Massachusetts — not an Ohioan, but then again neither am I — writes:

I told my classes . . . that as far as the electoral college goes, at least (probably less so the popular vote), you have four people to thank/blame for Ohio-the four majority justices of the Mass SJC in Goodridge. While my research on the politicization of legal issues is from the early 20th century (in Ohio, even), as soon as I saw the Goodridge case I thought "backlash." Yes, these things are difficult to gauge, but when I saw the overwhelming support for the amendment banning same-sex marriage in Ohio yesterday, I could have called the state for Bush. I told all my gay friends who were cheering over Goodridge to be careful what they wished for. The justices were way out in front of "the people" on this, and now they have 11 states with constitutional amendments prohibiting the very measure they (and I) supported. The SJC, at least for the foreseeable future, set their cause back, rather than advancing it. Moreover, I believe the "Goodridge effect" likely influenced the outcome of the election.

So there you have it. The votes from Ohio still seem to be running in favor of the "yes, Goodridge likely did influence the Ohio vote and help Bush" position (see the related post noted below), but I can't say I've got a statistically valid sample here . . . .

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Ohio and same-sex marriage:
  2. Liberals from Massachusetts: