Maggie Gallagher is president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. Marriage is on three state ballots on Election Day, most prominently California, where Proposition 8 seeks to reverse a judicial overreach. In an Election Day preview, Gallagher takes questions from National Review Online editor Kathryn Lopez.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Is California’s Proposition 8 going to win on Tuesday?
Maggie Gallagher: I’m cautiously optimistic. The caution comes from two factors: 1. The “No on 8” campaign was able to raise very large donations in the last few weeks such as a $4 million concert by Barbra Streisand, $1 million from Jon Stryker, a Kalamzaoo gazillionaire associated with Tim Gill’s machine, $1 million from the Claifornia Teacher’s union, a six-figure donation by a utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric — which means ratepayers across California are paying to help defeat marriage, “whether they like it or not.”
2. The Obama turnout. It’s just a wildcard in this election cycle. I’ve been less concerned than some because I think a large black turnout will on net benefit Prop 8, but of course a huge youth turnout could hurt us.
The last Field poll showed us down by 5. But the last Field poll in 2000 before Prop 22 was off by 8 percentage points. For whatever reason the Field poll (like many public polls) has undercounted the marriage vote.
Both campaigns are describing their internal polling as basically even. It could come down to one vote. If you live in California, make sure you vote. And make sure everyone you know who is a yes on Prop 8 voters turns out to vote. If you have any friends or relatives in California, make sure they get out and vote for Prop 8.
Lopez: What’s been most striking to you during the campaign?
Gallagher: The Prop 8 campaign debunks one of the big myths circulating in Washington politics: Ordinary people don’t really care about the marriage issue. An enormous rainbow coalition of people of different races and creeds have come together to support marriage. Spontaneously they are gathering on street corners, holding up Yes on 8 signs. It is really dominating politics this election in California.
A corollary myth: You can’t raise money on the marriage issue (because people don’t care about it that much anymore). More than $30 million has been raised to protect marriage in California, and far more of it on the Yes side from smaller donors. This is a record for any social issue. In terms of money, this is the second biggest election in the country.
The second most striking thing is how nasty the No on 8 people have been to their friends and neighbors and fellow citizens who disagree with them on the marriage. Prop 8 does what some folks (even in NR) said we should do to defuse the nastiness: It leaves gay couples with civil unions that provides all the benefits of marriage. And yet that has not reduced one iota the namecalling, the charges of bigotry, the just plain meanness out there. Gay-marriage leaders have delegitimized (in their own eyes) any opposition to gay marriage at all. People have been attacked, signs are routinely torn down and defaced, businessmen who personally donate have seen whole enterprises targeted for retribution — even though the business has nothing to do with the donation — simply because they believe marriage means a union of husband and wife.