November 12, 2008 at 10:18 PM EST
They believe African Americans are to blame. They believe Mormons are to blame. They believe Barack Obama is indirectly to blame.
But Sir Elton John thinks they have only themselves to blame.
Supporters of gay marriage are heading back to court in an attempt to overturn Proposition 8, a resolution to amend California’s constitution so that marriage is made once again exclusively the union of a man and a woman.
The resolution passed with support of 52 per cent of voters in last week’s election. Exit polls showed that while white and Asian voters opposed the proposition by a narrow margin (51 per cent to 49 per cent) and Latinos supported it by a narrow margin, (53 per cent to 47 per cent), the black vote proved decisive.
African Americans supported Proposition 8 by 70 per cent to 30 per cent, reflecting the social conservatism of many in the African-American community.
And enthusiasm for the possibility of electing an African-American president hugely increased their turnout. Black voters usually make up 6 per cent of those who vote in elections in California, but on Nov. 4 they accounted for 10 per cent of the vote.
Ironically, enthusiasm for Mr. Obama among black and (to a lesser extent) Latino voters helped bring down gay marriage in California.
The Mormons helped, too. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contributed an estimated 77 per cent of the funding for the Yes campaign.
In response, gay activists have called for a boycott on travel to Utah, where the church is headquartered. More important, they have launched a court challenge, supported by the state bar associations and the Democratic caucus in the legislature, asking the California Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8.
“Proposition 8 threatens the permanent and abiding nature of the requirement that laws must apply equally to all – the most basic principle of democratic government,” says a supporting letter from the Anti-Defamation League and other groups.
The latest legal challenge asserts that the proposition doesn’t just “amend” the state constitution, it “revises” it, in which case the state legislature had to authorize the proposition with a two-thirds vote, which it didn’t do.
As well, the challenge claims that the measure violates the state constitution’s equal-protection provisions, and embedding it would put the constitution at war with itself.
It was the court’s invalidation of an earlier proposition banning same-sex marriage in May that made the ceremony legal in California for a few brief months this year.
Eighteen thousand same-sex couples took advantage of the opportunity to tie the knot. Their marriages remain valid unless and until someone launches a legal challenge.
The gay- and civil-rights activists fighting for same-sex marriage are flying in the face of emphatic public opinion. Propositions similar to California’s passed handily in Arizona and Florida last week. Thirty states have now passed bans on same-sex marriage. And Arkansas passed a measure aimed at prohibiting same-sex adoptions.
Sir Elton believes the same-sex-marriage advocates are putting the marital cart ahead of the civil-rights horse.
The singer and his partner, David Furnish, attended a fundraiser for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York this week.
Sir Elton made a point of explaining that: “We’re not married. Let’s get that right.
“We have a civil partnership,” he told USA Today. “What is wrong with Proposition 8 is that they went for marriage. Marriage is going to put a lot of people off.”
All is not lost, for supporters of same-sex marriage. On Wednesday, Connecticut became the second state to permit such unions, which are already legal in Massachusetts.
The state’s Supreme Court ruled in October that any laws banning same-sex marriage violated Connecticut’s constitution, and voters rejected a proposition to amend the constitution to reinstate the ban.
“It’s thrilling today,” Barbara Levine-Ritterman said, after her wedding ceremony, an upgrade from a previous civil union with her partner, Robin. “We are all in one line for one form. Love is love, and the state recognizes it.”
And if the United States is more socially conservative than other Western nations now, that doesn’t mean it will be forever. In California, voters under 30 opposed Proposition 8 by 61 per cent to 39 per cent.
So it’s really just a matter of time.
JOHN IBBITSON :From Thursday’s Globe and Mail