Kathryn Lopez

The 2006 midterm elections may be over, but they are worth taking another look at before we become wedded to the wrong conclusions.

Marriage was an issue on the ballot in eight states and was a winning issue in all but one. Voters in Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Colorado, South Dakota and Idaho all voted to protect marriage.

Although some prominent voices have highlighted marriage as a distraction issue that hurt Republicans in the long run, the GOP would be wise not to rush to divorce court.

Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation says: "The recent elections confirm a strong nationwide consensus that favors protecting marriage and opposes its judicial redefinition. The challenge is to translate that political consensus into a constitutional consensus in the face of increased congressional intransigence. The best way to do that is to make sure marriage is not only an issue but also a strategic component in the 2008 electoral map, which now includes the fact that over half of the states have protected marriage in their constitutions."

An embrace of the marriage-protection issue on the right could put Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a good position for the 2008 presidential primaries. As Republican governor of that liberal northeastern state, he's tried pushing back against gay marriage, in the one state where it has -- thanks to the courts -- become legal.

As his term was winding down post-Election Day, the state legislature there recessed a long-promised constitutional convention until Jan. 2, the last day of the legislative session.

At a subsequent marriage-protection rally on the Massachusetts statehouse steps, Gov. Romney voiced his outrage at legislative complicity in judicial tyranny. He said, "Last week, 109 legislators decided to reject the law, abandon the Constitution, and violate their oath of office. For the Constitution plainly states that when a qualified petition is placed before them, the legislature 'shall' vote. It does not say may vote, or vote if its procedures permit a vote, or vote if there are enough of the members in attendance. It says 'shall' vote."

He continued, "A decision not to vote is a decision to usurp the Constitution, to abandon democracy and substitute a form of what this nation's founders called tyranny, that is, the imposition of the will of those in power, on the people."

In contrast, the incoming Democratic governor, formerly an official in the Bill Clinton administration, has said, "I think the (high court) got it right." Gov.-elect Deval Patrick continued, ''I think all they did was affirm the principle that people come before their government as equals."


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.