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Obama, Marriage, & the Election


By Matt Baume

There’s just one week to go until the election. And President Obama has endorsed the freedom to marry in all four of the states that will vote on the issue. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has endorsed a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality.

In just days, four states will vote on the freedom to marry. Polling is still very close. Visit for ways that you can help all of those campaigns. Meanwhile, President Obama has lent his support to all four races.

In Washington, Obama spokesman Paul Bell said “the President supports a yes vote to approve Referendum 74.”

In Maine, his press secretary says “The president believes same-sex couples should be treated equally and supports Question 1.”

In Maryland, Obama said, “you have a chance to reaffirm that principle [of fairness and equality] in the voting booth in November. It’s the right thing to do.”

And in Minnesota, which will vote on a marriage ban, Obama officials released a statement reading, “the Minnesota ballot initiative … would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples — and that’s why the President does not support it.”

Meanwhile, an advisor to Mitt Romney confirmed this week that the candidate supports a federal constitutional amendment to prohibit the freedom to marry.

Polling in those crucial state races is still close. In Washington, an Elway Poll shows support for Ref 74 dropping under 50 percent. It’s now leading, but just barely, at 49 to 45 percent.

In Minnesota, the proposed marriage ban has 44 percent support to 51 opposed.

And there’s one more state with a vote next week involving the freedom to marry. In Iowa, voters will decide whether to retain one of the Supreme Court justices who struck down the state’s marriage ban.

It was a unanimous decision by a conservative court. But anti-gay activists are pushing to unseat all of the justices. Now Justice David Wiggins is being targeted by groups like NOM.

He needs 50% support to keep his seat, and just as in the other states, it’s going to be close. A Des Moins Register poll shows he has 49% support, with 41% voting to unseat.

There’s still time get involved in Iowa, as well as in Maine, Minnesota, Maryland, and Washington. Visit for resources that you can use to spread the word about these races and contribute to the campaigns.



  • 1. Anthony  |  October 29, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    The numbers in MN are a little bit too off looking for me to believe, either way it's gonna be close. The fact that a blank vote counts as a no helps a lot though.

  • 2. Stefan in CA  |  October 30, 2012 at 7:44 am

    "In Washington, an Elway Poll shows support for Ref 74 dropping under 50 percent. It’s now leading, but just barely, at 49 to 45 percent."
    And why is that, after such a strong lead and so much financial support? Where were the ads that bury the opposition?

  • 3. Jamie  |  October 30, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Because the same people are running these campaigns that have run that last 32 that we've lost, and they keep doing the same things and expecting different results. It's truly a shame that so much money is being wasted.

  • 4. Gregory in SLC  |  October 30, 2012 at 11:44 am

    This one is pretty good (thx Sagesse!)

  • 5. Stefan  |  October 30, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    The reason the lead fell was because the polling was sqewed for 2 reasons:

    1. The previous Elway poll was D + 13. This poll was only D + 3.

    2. This poll asked likely voters, while the previous one asked registered voters.

    Elway has been known to make polls for the anti-gay organizations so it's not surprising they would attempt to skew results. It should be noted that in Sep. of 2009 they showed referendum 71 winning by just 46 to 41 percent. It passed with 53.15% of the vote.

    Here is our side's response ad:

  • 6. Seth from Maryland  |  October 30, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    soon as i saw this poll i was a skeptic of it , i dont even think they polled enough democrats for one thing, in my opinion the poll that comes closest to what actually might happen is the University of Washington Poll that came out a week ago, it showed us at about the same support that ref 71 passed by

  • 7. Leo  |  October 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    If 46% vote yes, 41% vote no, and the other 13% don't vote, you end up with 53% to 47% of the vote. So I don't know anything about Elway, but it seems they were very accurate in that one instance.

  • 8. Stefan  |  October 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    By that logic with this previous poll of 49 to 45 and 6% doesn't vote it would come out to 52% approve.

  • 9. Leo  |  October 30, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Yes, that's how it works.

  • 10. Bill  |  October 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Elway is a legit polling organization and this was an independent poll, not commissioned. And a legit pollster does not pre-select the party affiliation. See Nate Silver's commentary on this to understand why. The poll and the pollster are legit, but for the reason stated in the last paragraph in your comment, I am not worried.

  • 11. grod  |  October 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Stefan – commenter’s to this blog across threads have regularly called for this kind of direct and timely refuting of false statements! However to date only 300 had viewed this youtube ‘ad’. Your comparative analysis of the Elway poll provides perspective… Gregory – thanks for the link to the 1000 Catholics who stand against their leadership in their commitment to civil rights for all. Catholics would not be surprised, as it is realized that many of the laity are out of sync with their leadership on this matter. Jamie, while I am frequently supportive of your viewpoint, your claim of 'same old, same old' understates the significant advances made is influencing the 'non-LGBT'community too often against the forces of societal inertia.

  • 12. Gregory in SLC  |  October 30, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    tx for stopping by Grod : )

  • 13. Straight Ally #3008  |  October 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    The biggest difference is that in Maine, the referendum was introduced by *our* side, and Maine has a history of advancing by making a step forward, getting knocked back, and stepping forward again:

  • 14. Jamie  |  October 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    The law in Washington was introduced by our side as well, as was Maryland.

    I agree the wording in Minnesota puts us at a disadvantage because it was introduced by the marriage discrimination supporters.

  • 15. Seth from Maryland  |  October 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    [youtube p0VBgAxLiQ8 youtube]

    Maine's ads are so good, maybie we should make their campaign leader the one who calls shoots in all the ballot fights

  • 16. Seth from Maryland  |  October 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    [youtube mXpLlNWG09I&feature=plcp youtube]

    we should start following Maine's model, After they lost they the first time, the very next day they kept on building support and having the conversations , sure they lost a battle , but they knew they did not lose the war,

  • 17. candide  |  October 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    If we don't win a couple of these, the whole equality movement and the ineffective organizations who are profiting from them will have to be jettisoned and recast. Our advocates resolutely refuse to reeducate the public by directly confronting the lies spread by the opposition

    Supposedly Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting a different result. Those in charge of our movement are insane, as are we for financially supporting them.

  • 18. Mike in Baltimore  |  October 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    In Maryland, there have been several ads (on TV, on radio, print, etc.) directly countering the lies being spread by NOM, including an ad NOM put out about 'in third grade, teaching that a boy can marry a boy, and the parents can't pull their child from that class'. In a rebuttal, an actual teacher tells us the NOM ad is full of lies, and that the law in Maryland does NOT call for teaching what the NOM ad says.

    So to say that what has been done in the past is exactly what is being done today is nothing but male bovine droppings.

  • 19. Anthony  |  October 30, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Basically, we're hoping that public opinion has changed enough in 4 years so that in previous states where we've lost by less than 4 points, this time the numbers will be reversed in our favor.

  • 20. Jamie  |  October 30, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    That's exactly what they did in California during Proposition 8. The director of education was in an ad saying the anti-marriage ad was dishonest. See how that turned out.

    Unfortunately, this is a stupid way to run this type of campaign. It might feel good to try to counter the lies, but it hurts you in the end because you are forced to repeat the lies. For every two people you convince, you cause at least one to think "I wonder if children will be taught gay marriage in school".

  • 21. Anthony  |  October 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    It's better to counter the lies than to not respond at all, that's for sure. But like I said before, I think public opinion has changed enough that the numbers will be reversed in our favor this time around.

  • 22. Jamie  |  October 31, 2012 at 8:56 am

    It's not actually better to counter the lies. Where did you hear this nonsense?

  • 23. Phillip K  |  October 31, 2012 at 11:00 am

    So are you saying it's better to ignore them?

  • 24. fiona64  |  November 2, 2012 at 10:34 am

    The theory that Jamie refers to is that in order to counter the lies, you have to mention them. This can have the effect of reinforcing the lie in some people's minds. Remember too, though, that there is a psychological effect that causes some people to dig in/entrench further when presented with facts that countermand their personal beliefs.:

  • 25. Phillip K  |  November 2, 2012 at 11:57 am

    I can understand what you're saying. I really just wanted to understand whether Jamie believes that ignoring them is the best option.

  • 26. Bill  |  October 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Two points, one on the WA poll and one on TV ads:

    – I am not worried about the Elway poll. 3 other polls show us above 50%, with 53-54% being the average. Elway polls have tended to understate both sides' support and to exaggerate the undecideds. In 2009, they had a similar poll result for the WA domestic partnerships referendum, i.e., both sides under 50 with the pro-gay side leading by a few points, and the result there was a victory for us at 53-47. As noted,t that outcome would be precisely in line with the 3 other WA polls released last week. If another poll pops up showing us below 50, then I'd worry, but right now 3 polls above 50 and one Elway poll showing us ahead and 1 point below 50 are just fine.

    – On the ads, WA has been on the air far more than the opposition. Ditto for Maine and MN. Only in MD is there something closer to parity, although we are on the air more there too. One thing that we will want to look at carefully is how these ads performed. In all 4 states, the vast majority of ads followed a model in which a traditional couple, usually friends or relatives of a gay couple, explains their thinking on marriage equality.

    It was something of a risk for our side in all 4 states to run so many ads in the same vein. Obviously, this was the subject of research and focus groups, but at the end of the day, we had a vast fortune to spend on ad buys and we have the right to scrutinize their impact to ensure that this ad model works. I do not agree with the morons who denounce these ads because they don't include gay couples. In fact, some of them do, even though it is a straight couple or straight individual who does the talking. The issue isn't whether a gay couple is included or whether it makes gay viewers feel happy, the issue is whether this ad model succeeds in moving voters to our side. That is what we need to look at post-election.

  • 27. RAJ  |  October 31, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Bill wrote:

    "Obviously, this was the subject of research and focus groups, but at the end of the day, we had a vast fortune to spend on ad buys and we have the right to scrutinize their impact to ensure that this ad model works."


    "… the issue is whether this ad model succeeds in moving voters to our side. That is what we need to look at post-election. "

    THIS! . . . (to all of the post, really)

    Our Marriage equality side is AWASH in money. More could always be put to use, but we don't need more money so much as we need —finally— an effective message or set of messages — that and for the cultural tide to turn another degree or two in our favor.

    Unfortunately, the main reason the messages of NOM, Schubert, et. al. are so effective is that there is still a deep, wide, ingrained reservoir of anti-gay prejudice in a substantial portion of the voting population. I don't really know what you do about that except what we've been doing, which is to patiently, inch by inch, over a period of time, talk with voters and try to allay their fears. I don't know that there is yet an effective ad strategy or ad model that will adequately penetrate enough of those prejudices for us to win. I hope so.

    The other side (for now) has their winning strategies and messaging. Their ads are aimed straight at the reptile brain — ominous background music, average citizens beset by outrageous injustices, the specter of innocent children being violated by premature and inappropriate sexual knowledge. Never mind that the mis-characterizations and crudeness don't hold up in court. So far, they've had resonance with enough voters for them to win.

    While we're sifting through this latest crop of Marriage Equality ads post-election, I hope we've at least won one or two of those contests.

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