Election Shows Most Americans Support Protecting Traditional Marriage, Activist Says

By Penny Starr | November 20, 2008 | 5:32 PM EST

Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and the National Organization for Marriage (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – The recent election may have painted much of the country blue, but the passage of ballot measures in three states show that most Americans support preserving traditional marriage, a conservative activist said Wednesday.
“In the middle of a great blue tide and the historic election of Obama, voters in three states voted to amend their constitutions to protect marriage as the union between one man and one woman,” Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and the National Organization for Marriage, said at a conference of the National Review Institute in Washington, D.C.
Gallagher pointed to Proposition 8 in California that amends that state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage and similar legislation passed by voters in Arizona and Florida.
“Every single time Americans have a chance to vote that marriage is a union between husband and wife, they’ve done so,” Gallagher said at the conference, a day-long event that featured panelists discussing the future of the conservative movement in light of its defeat in the presidential and congressional races.
Gallagher argued that the recent bans show that Americans are still interested in more than the economy and climate change, despite the response she got from Californians before the effort was launched to get Proposition 8 on the November ballot.
“Every single person I talked to that was on my side told me not to try,” Gallagher said. “That it was impossible. It took too much money and people don’t care about this marriage issue.”
But, she said, the grassroots effort gathered a record number of volunteers working on a social initiative, and the group raised the $2 million needed to get the issue on the ballot.
Gallagher also said she has been shocked by the reaction to Proposition 8’s success, including colleagues, volunteers, and supporters of the ballot being threatened and harassed.
Gallagher said she experienced it personally during the recent taping of the “Dr. Phil” television show when she was confronted by Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual activist group.
“He said, ‘we’re going to go after you … every single day for the next two years until we overturn Prop 8,’” Gallagher said, adding that she didn’t think the comment would be aired as part of a debate about Proposition 8 on the show.
In a commentary on Human Rights Campaign’s Web site, Solmonese opined on the passage of Proposition 8 and said his group was determined to see it overturned.
“There are many roads to marriage equality, and no single roadblock will prevent us from ultimately getting there,” Solomnese wrote. “And yet there is no denying, as we pick ourselves up after losing this most recent, hard-fought battle, that we’ve been injured, many of us by neighbors who claim to respect us. We see them in the supermarkets, on the sidewalk, and think “how could you?” 
“By the same token, we know that we are moving in the right direction,” Solmonese wrote. “In 2000, California voters passed Proposition 22 by a margin of 61.4% to 38.6%.  On Tuesday, fully 48% of Californians rejected Proposition 8. It wasn’t enough, but it was a massive shift. 
“Nationally, although two other anti-marriage ballot measures won, Connecticut defeated an effort to hold a constitutional convention ending marriage (and) New York’s state legislature gained the seats necessary to consider a marriage law,” he added.
He also noted that Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), who sponsored a Federal Marriage Amendment to ban same-sex marriage across the nation, lost her seat in Congress, while Barack Obama, who wants to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act, won the presidential race.
“We also elected a president who supports protecting the entire community from discrimination and who opposes discriminatory amendments,” Solomnese wrote.
Gallagher said the homosexual movement has taken on a new tone, including post-campaign rhetoric comparing people who oppose same-sex marriage to those who opposed interracial marriage.
She also said the Mormon Church, which donated money to get Proposition 8 on the ballot, and African-Americans, many of whom voted for it, are getting the brunt of the blacklash.
“I don’t know what’s coming at us, frankly,” Gallagher said.
“This isn’t just about picking the right policies. These are not your mother’s liberals. They know what they are doing, and their goal is to shut down debate and to drive from the public square alternative voices,” she added.
“It’s going to take creativity, not only on policy, but in a whole variety of ways, to deal with this threat,” she said.