The New York Times's enthusiastic push for gay marriage continued with Eric Eckholm's Tuesday's front-page story on the "milestone" victories in several blue states: "Push Expands for Legalizing Gay Marriage."
Elated by their first ballot victories, in four states, advocates of same-sex marriage rights plan to push legislatures in half a dozen more states toward legalization as they also press their cause in federal courts. They are also preparing for what they hope will be another milestone: the electoral reversal of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman, in Oregon in 2014.
A rapid shift in public opinion is bolstering their cause as more people grow used to the idea of same-sex marriage and become acquainted with openly gay people and couples. “The pace of the change in opinions has picked up over the last few years,” said Michael Dimock, associate research director of the Pew Research Center in Washington, “and as the younger generation becomes a larger share of the electorate, the writing is on the wall.”
Eckholm took a close, sympathetic look at how the gay marriage proponents won hearts and minds. It's not a tack the paper takes when it comes to causes liberals dislike, such as charter schools. For instance, Motoko Rich's November 8 article on Election Day victories for the charter school movement in Georgia and Washington state was far more muted, and got to opponents by paragraph three.
A close look at this year’s campaigns, from Maine to Washington State, shows how rights activists intend to hasten that shift in the future, relying especially on patient, labor-intensive personal dialogue.
Here in Maine, voters rejected same-sex marriage only three years ago, 53 percent to 47 percent. Mainers United for Marriage, which advocates same-sex marriage rights, phoned some 250,000 residents or knocked on their doors, engaging many of them in 20-minute conversations about love, marriage and commitment and persuading some to rethink their views. “We asked people what marriage meant in their lives,” said Matt McTighe, the group’s campaign manager.
Last Tuesday the numbers were reversed, with Maine legalizing same-sex marriage by 53 percent to 47 percent.
The Times made a celebrity out of one man who changed his mind on the issue (for the better, in the Times worldview).
Douglas Emmons, 52, of Biddeford voted against gay marriage in 2009 but changed his mind this year, he said, after urging by his daughter, a recent college graduate, and an hourlong discussion with Randy Hazelton, a field organizer for Mainers United for Marriage.
“It’s still something that’s uncomfortable; it doesn’t seem quite natural,” Mr. Emmons said. “But I guess everybody should have an equal chance at marriage if they want it.”
Eckholm quoted opponents deep into the story, before quickly neutralizing them with a liberal view from a Republican strategist.
“We lost by small margins in bastions of deep-blue America,” said Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. He noted that 30 states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. He said he expected Indiana to vote on such an amendment in the next year or two, “and we will win.”
But some Republicans question whether their party should try to resist a seemingly unstoppable demographic trend. “The die is cast on this issue,” said Steve Schmidt, who advised the presidential campaigns of Senator John McCain and George W. Bush and has for years urged Republicans to accept same-sex marriage. “Why should we sign a suicide pact with the National Organization for Marriage?” Mr. Schmidt asked, saying the party should instead endorse the principles of federalism and let the states decide the matter.