Thursday, March 17, 2011

Is article about DOMA a case of positive overhyping?

According to Talking Points Memo, the issue of overturning DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) is a positive for Democrats due to the fact that it's no longer a wedge issue:

In the wake of President Obama's decision to drop support for portions of the Defense of Marriage Act, gay rights advocates have been unabashed in claiming that beyond the merits of their underlying argument they now have the political advantage as well. Not only does public opinion polling suggest they're right, but the reaction of gay rights opponents does, too.

On Wednesday, House and Senate Democrats held separate press conferences announcing the introduction of legislation to repeal DOMA. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), one of the sponsors of the House bill, was asked whether Democrats were politicizing gay rights as a wedge issue against the GOP, as Majority Leader Eric Cantor alleged last month.

"What do I say to the idea that this is a wedge issue? I say 'Hallelujah,'" Frank told reporters. "The fact that we've now evolved to the point where the Republicans are complaining about the fact that we introduced this bill because it causes them political problems is a great sign of progress. It used to be the other way around."
Frank noted that the original 1996 DOMA was used by Congress in part to put President Clinton in a tough political spot ahead of his re-election race against Bob Dole. Many political observers credited Republican efforts to ban gay marriage on the state and federal level with helping secure President Bush's re-election in 2004 as well. In his memoirs last year, Rove wrote that a 2003 Massachusetts court decision legalizing gay marriage "did affect the 2004 election by motivating culturally conservative Democrats and independents who might otherwise have voted Democratic to abandon Kerry over his wobbly views on marriage."

In his statement on President Obama's decision to abandon DOMA, Cantor revealed how much the tables have turned, calling the move "a clear political exercise by the Administration." A recent poll commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, found a majority of Americans opposed DOMA and backed Obama's position. Other polls have found support for legalizing gay marriage entirely trending rapidly towards a majority -- a recent Pew survey found 46% of respondents opposed to allowing gay marriage versus 45% who back the idea.

"The wedge has lost its edge," Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, who worked on Bush's 2004 campaign, told The New York Times last month. 

Pardon me for being a bit cynical but we know the religious right works - some overly generous funds from anonymous sources, a couple of hundreds of thousands of glossy pamphlets blanketing a few states talking about how children will turn gay because of marriage equality, a few greased palms to various black ministers who will be more than eager to decry about the "highjacking of the civil rights movement" (you really don't think these ministers were raising hell out because of personal righteous indignation, did you), a few hundred thousand emails filled with homophobic talking points, a few visits to Fox News and BOOM:

The media will be talking about how DOMA has been resurrected as a "wedge issue."

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