Monday, June 05, 2006

Gay Marriage Amendment in Alabama

In tomorrow's primary election, there will be an amendment on the ballot to outlaw gay marriage in Alabama (which is already outlawed here) and to allow the state to not recognize the marriage of gay couples performed in other states.

Oddly enough, I hadn't even heard about this amendment until this weekend when my mother asked me what I thought about it. I did a quick search of Poliblog and didn't find anything about it there either. So I just did a google search and found a Montgomery Advertiser article about it here. According to this article:

Alabamians will decide in the June 6 primary whether to add another layer of barriers to gays getting married or getting recognition for their marriages performed in other states.

Alabama already has a law that bans gay couples from obtaining marriage licenses, but there will be a proposed amendment on the ballot that would make the prohibition of gay marriage part of the state's constitution.

The article goes on to say:
John Giles, president of the Christian Coalition, predicted the proposed constitutional amendment will get between 80 percent and 90 percent of the vote.

Howard Bayless of Birmingham, chairman of Equality Alabama, disagreed.

"Reality is, our neighbors respect us," said Bayless. "People are trying to use fear and use other tactics for their political gain."

Bayless said he is optimistic that Giles' prediction of a landslide won't happen.

"We believe there are a lot of fair-minded people in Alabama, and come June 6 they will defeat this amendment," he said.

I will definitely vote against such an amendment but I'm afraid I don't share Bayless's optimism about Alabama voters. We couldn't even pass an amendment to take racial language out of the constitution. I find it hard to believe the majority of voters will be "fair-minded" enough to defeat this amendment. I've lived in Alabama my whole life and I must say that "fair-minded" is not the first word I would think of to describe the average Alabama voter. There are several fair-minded Alabamians out there, but not enough to make the difference I'm afraid.

This whole issue reminds me of something I read a day or two ago in a book on Comparative Politics. In the chapter on political culture it said:
But surprising as it may seem, the extent to which a given public is tolerant or intolerant of homosexuality is a stronger predictor of stable democracy than any of the items that tap overt support for democracy. (Howard Wiarda, New Directions in Comparative Politics, 151)
All the moves around the country to block gay marriage does not speak well of our political culture. As I try to explain to my homophobic eldest son, the law is not about majority rule as much as it is about protecting the minority from the majority. Democracy has to be tolerant or it doesn't work. I fear that too much of this country is heading in the wrong direction.