Referendums in Washington state and Maine will take place Tuesday to determine the fate of state-sanctioned gay marriage. Some say what happens in those states won’t be a bellweather for the rest of the nation.
Polls show a 17-point support for an “everything but marriage” bill in Washington State, which provides full rights to homosexual couples without the title of marriage.
Maine is a different story. Polls there have voters split in a dead heat over a bill that extends full rights and the title of “marriage” to gays, a measure that the state legislature passed in May. It cannot go into effect without a popular referendum.
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, says that it’ll be hard to tell the outcome of either race until election day. Special elections tend to attract fewer numbers of voters, and the electorate generally trends more conservative – but it’s difficult to predict the results of such a controversial matter.
“We always have to take polls with a grain of salt. Sometimes they're done as push polls, to influence Election day, rather than being a reflection of the voters views,” she said.
Wright noted the possible effect of polls giving homosexual advocates an edge, and the “sense of inevitability” that some gay rights activists try and portray the struggle to reform marriage laws.
“Sometimes polls are done as a motivational tool to depress the vote of those who believe in traditional marriage,” she said. “The voters in Maine and Washington need to be very careful of that, that they don’t fall for this manipulative tactic of a sense of inevitability.”
Maine’s gay marriage battles have provoked a major fundraising war, with gay marriage supporters outspending traditional marriage defenders nearly 2-1. The pro-gay marriage group, NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality, has dropped $4 million on its campaign, compared with $2.5 million by Stand for Marriage Maine. Wright said those dollars came from homosexual activists across the country, rather than simply from lobbyists in the state.
Rob Schwarzwalder, a senior vice president for the Family Research Council, noted the history of state gay marriage battles, saying that Washington State’s predicted passage would be the first of its kind.