Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum spoke at a luncheon for the Family Policy Institute of Washington on Tuesday, where he urged supporters to vote against Referendum 74, the measure to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington State, which joins three other states facing the same decision.
The luncheon, which was closed to the press, reviewed the controversial Senate Bill 6239, which looked to legalize same-sex marriage and was signed by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire on Feb, 13. Opponents of the bill, however, gathered enough signatures from those defending traditional marriage to challenge the bill, and on June 12 it was announced that Washington, along with five other states, would be holding a voter referendum of same-sex marriage.
Gay marriage is currently legal in seven U.S. territories: the District of Columbia, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa. However, if referendum voters in Maryland, Washington, Maine and Minnesota choose in November to redefine marriage, it would be the first time that a people's vote has opted for including homosexuals in the definition. So far, only lawmakers and high courts have been successful in establishing such a change.
By all accounts, various polls in these four states show that the public is very much divided on legalizing same-sex marriage, with support for or against the referendums hanging in the balance.
It could be argued, however, that most of those states lean more Democratic than Republican, which would be a boost for advocates seeking to redefine marriage. Both President Barack Obama and the official Democratic platform have declared themselves to be in support of same-sex marriage.
The Four 2012, an organization supporting the push for legalizing same-sex marriage, has published public opinion statistics on where people stand on gay marriage in each of the states that will hold a referendum vote in November. Maine is currently the state with the largest support for same-sex marriage, holding a 21 percentage point lead over opponents. In Washington, where Santorum spoke, gay marriage advocates have an 18-point lead, and a 10-point lead in Maryland. In Minnesota, the vote is projected to be a lot closer, with those supporting the traditional definition of marriage holding a 2-point lead.
"There's tremendous momentum," said Brian Ellner, co-founder of The Four 2012. "Everything is aligned for us to win this year."
As one of the most active battleground states, Washington supporters of the traditional definition have said that their campaign is not to deny people their rights, but to preserve a tradition that is aimed at protecting children and the family unity.
"Same-sex marriage advocates love to talk about the freedom to love and their own interpretation of 'rights'. The truth is that none of us need a legal contract to love – we are all born with that freedom. Marriage is not really about the desires of adults. It should be about endorsing the kind of families that will be the best for kids and supporting those unions with public policies, even though other living arrangements may exist," Bishop Harry Jackson from Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., wrote as an explanation for why the referendum needs to be rejected.
"The reason that legally defined marriage is important is because of children. It takes a mother and a father to conceive a child, and children have a God-given right to have a relationship with both their biological mother and their biological father," Jackson added.
The battle over traditional marriage is expected to go right to the wire come Election Day, with advocates on both sides hoping to swing voters to their position.