Progressives bent on ending marriage will find they have stirred a hornets’ nest of opposition that unites black and white voters, Hispanics and Asians. North Carolina’s Marriage Amendment passed in 93 out of 100 counties! It stimulated a huge turnout in rural areas. Do those progressives really want to do this?
To understand how radical, how unprecedented Bill Clinton’s new position on marriage is, we should remember the overwhelming passage of the Defense of Marriage Act in Congress in 1996. That bill passed by 342 votes in the House of Representatives; it passed by 85 votes in the Senate. That powerful bipartisan vote was a veto-proof majority. The Defense of Marriage Act was passed by a Republican Congress, it is true, and sent to a Democratic president for signature. But the Defense of Marriage Act would have passed Congress if there had been no Republicans sitting in either body.
That is how strong the bipartisan consensus for true marriage was just 16 years ago.
I can attest to the strength of commitment on this issue. I was Ohio’s secretary of state in 2004. Ohio voters cast a half million more votes that year than they had just four years earlier. George W. Bush won Ohio in 2004 by just 100,000 votes. Clearly, the marriage amendment carried him to victory.
Now, it should be clear to all that true marriage is no issue to avoid. Those who support true marriage should not give it just a passing reference. Studies suggest that the breakdown of marriage is one of the sources of our economic problems. Far from being a “distraction,” support for true marriage is a necessary foundation for restoring America’s economic vitality.
For Democrats now to reject all of that, to stiff-arm voters in 32 states, to ignore the strong beliefs of black Americans and other minority voters, and to refuse to acknowledge women’s support for true marriage is unwise in the extreme.
It is, in a word, froward.
Ken Blackwell was the vice chairman of the 2008 GOP platform.