In wake of news that major Republican donors are funding the push to legalize gay marriage in New York, Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family is touting efforts to “save traditional marriage” there led by the National Organization for Marriage and the New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation. NOM has reportedly raised a million dollars to spend on its anti-gay marriage campaign and Family Research Foundation leader Reverend Jason McGuire is riding around the state on a “Mayday for Marriage” bus tour rallying supporters. “Where were you when they tried to redefine marriage?” he reportedly asks the people who turn up at tour stops. “What will you say to future generations?”
The message is being mocked for sounding wartime alarms and referencing hypothetically distraught future generations at a time when opinion, especially among young people, is swinging wildly in support of gay equality.
Gay activist websites are also hosting the “Mayday for Marriage” radio ad now playing on the New York airwaves. In the context of the sites, the ad comes off as a camp parody of gay-panic politics.
The most recent Pew Research poll data shows that opposition to gay marriage has fallen by 19 points in the last 15 years. On the topic of homosexuality generally, there has been a sea change. Nearly 70 percent of people under 30 now say that homosexuality should be accepted not discouraged.
In the weeks leading up to the end of the state legislative session there, New York has become ground zero in the gay marriage war. The state Senate in 2009 voted against legislation that would have legalized same-sex marriage. Democrats control the state House now as then and in 2009 they enjoyed a majority in the Senate. Although Republicans now control the Senate, the momentum seems to be swinging toward equality.
The New York Times this weekend made a splash, for example, with a story profiling a number of the wealthy GOP donors who have gone on record in support of gay marriage rights and have given roughly $1 million to the cause. The donors have said they want Republican lawmakers to know they will not be abandoned by the party for supporting gay marriage.
“I think it is important in particular for Republicans to know this is a bipartisan issue,” said donor Daniel Loeb. “They will not be abandoned by the party for supporting this. On the contrary, I think they will find that there is a whole new world of people who will support them on an ongoing basis if they support this cause.”
In Colorado this past spring, such an effort by GOP financial backers might well have pushed a same-sex civil unions bill over the top. After advancing through the Senate, the bill died in a House committee, where at least a few of the Republicans who voted against it seemed to be doing so based more on political calculation than moral conviction.
The religious character of the opposition to gay marriage in New York highlights a pattern around the country. Even as the right-wing mediasphere beats drums against an alleged “creeping sharia” meant to slip Islamic law into U.S. statutes, the arguments against gay equality mostly turn on scriptural law and reasoning.
That was clearly the case in Colorado in the debate around the civil unions bill, which would have granted gay couples hundreds of legal rights presently enjoyed by straight married couples.
“Our Creator established the family as the cornerstone of human society,” said Kevin Lundberg, who led the charge against the bill in the state Senate.
Witnesses opposed to the legislation almost all identified themselves as Christian. Many referenced the Bible. A spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese testified against the bill in the House and Senate committees. And Christian politics group Colorado Family Action commissioned a poll during the debate over the bill and delivered the results to Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee.
The Republicans didn’t share the poll data or any details of the survey methodology with the Democratic members of the committee nor with members of the press.