For years the strategy of the gay community has tilted toward making the debate on same-sex marriage a “civil rights” issue as compared to a “marriage” issue. But now a bipartisan group of influential politicos are lending their support to a campaign that is seeking to use a “value of commitment” proposition in order to convince moderates and independents to support same-sex marriage.
Third Way, which describes itself as a “moderate” think tank with the intent on promoting bipartisan approaches to issues, released a report on Monday in conjunction with Grove Insight, whose objective is to shift the same-sex marriage debate to one of “commitment.”
Supporters of the campaign include former Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, and long-time Bush adviser and former chairman of the Republican National Committee Ken Mehlman, who came out last year and admitted he was a homosexual.
“Third Way’s Commitment Campaign will be among the most strategic and effective national efforts to broaden support for marriage, with a unique focus on winning over moderates, independents, conservatives and Republicans,” said Mehlman in a written statement.
Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for Policy at the Family Research Council, feels the support for traditional marriage remains strong – the best example being pro-marriage amendments have won overwhelming support the last 31 times states have placed such measures on the ballot.
“Advocates for marriage are batting 31 for 31 when the traditional definition of marriage is put before the voters,” Sprigg told The Christian Post. “The issue is not so much about access but rather about the definition of marriage. When you ask voters if they believe marriage should be between one man and one woman, a substantial majority of Americans will say yes.”
Supporters of homosexual and civil unions have won some recent victories, most notably the New York legislature’s passage of same-sex marriage in June. Although some polls have shown slightly more than 50 percent say they are supportive of same-sex marriage, only a little more than 40 percent of Americans indicate they have strong feelings on the issue.
“The folks that make up the middle – the swing voters – are starting to come around to the issue of gay marriage,” Sean Gibbons, VP of Communications for Third Way told The Christian Post. “We did a good bit of qualitative research and found that when ‘love and commitment’ are introduced into the equation, people who were somewhat opposed to gay marriage started to come around.”
The new battlegrounds on the same-sex marriage front are being formed in North Carolina and Minnesota and groups such as Third Way are hoping to weaken the opposition to gay marriage among conservative Democrats and more moderate Republicans.
While the group is optimistic about changing voters’ attitudes one same-sex marriage, they still have an uphill battle when compared to the 31 states that have voted in favor of ballot initiatives that in some way defined marriage between a man and a woman.
“Advocates for gay marriage may have some gains, but primarily due to espousing a negative message by saying if people don’t agree with their positions then they are discriminatory and bigots,” said Sprigg. “But the message they are sharing is at odds with reality. Same-sex couples are less likely to be sexually faithful and remain in committed relationship for the long-term.”
“As for their ‘commitment campaign,’ there has to be more to marriage than just the public definition. And children always do better in a household with a mom and a dad who are in a committed, long-term relationship.”