Immediately after the decision that California's 2008 ballot initiative Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, the left started their partisan claims that electing liberal judges and Democratic politicians were the only sure ways to guarantee equal rights for gays and lesbians. The partisan group Equality California quickly warned Californians that they must elect Jerry Brown and San Francisco Attorney General Candidate Kamala Harris if they wanted greater equality. One by One, NPR hosts and MSNBC personalities speculated that the Republicans would surely use the ruling as a wedge issue in November leading viewers and listeners to believe the issue splits down partisan lines. And gay groups trumpeted congratulatory claims from Democrats and warnings from some Republicans that the issue was not settled yet.
But what you didn't hear from the political left and mainstream media is that U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker was appointed by a Republican president and that the lawyer, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who successfully argued the case on behalf of gays and lesbians, is a Republican.
If U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had had her way, Vaughn Walker would never have been a judge at all. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated Walker to the federal bench. Pelosi mounted an aggressive campaign against him and led two dozen other Democrats to oppose his nomination over what they called his "insensitivity" to gays and the poor. The hectoring liberal mob won and Walker's nomination stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Pelosi had successfully maligned Walker, who happens to be gay, labeling him a homophobe. Luckily, Walker was nominated again by President George H.W. Bush in early 1989 and subsequently confirmed to the federal bench.
But why do gay leaders continue to support the Democrats with reckless abandonment? While Republicans certainly have a mixed record of support for gay issues over the last several decades, recent trends show dramatic improvement. Republicans are changing their views while the gay leadership is stuck in their old habits. During the 2008 presidential race, gay leaders consistently told the masses that electing Barack Obama president would mean instant equality. The same talking points were used to elect Democrats the majority in the Senate and the House a few years earlier. The current Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, even represents the gayest district in the U.S. But the majority party has failed to deliver any meaningful progress for gays and lesbians in the 18 months they have controlled the process.
Still, gay leaders have stayed loyal. And that is because almost without exception the leaders of the national gay groups have previously worked as staffers to Democratic politicians or liberal interest groups. Most gay leaders are much more interested in keeping their political access and their careers on track than they are delivering legislative victories. For a minority movement yearning to convince the majority that gays are everywhere among us, the gay leadership is breathlessly monolithic, homogeneous and antiquated. Sadly, these leaders walk lock step with Democratic politicians, and Democratic politicians know there are no consequences for ignoring them.
But the 2008 decision by California voters to pass Proposition 8 and deny marriage to gays and lesbians should have been a warning sign. California voters overwhelmingly voted for both Barack Obama and Prop 8. At best, this vote means California Democrats are ambivalent about gay marriage. So why do Democratic activists and their media allies continue to define the issue as a partisan divide? The issue is not as partisan as they would like you to believe.
Immediately following the ruling from Walker, Fox News conducted an online and unscientific poll asking people to vote whether or not they believed the Judge had made the right decision. With more than 225,000 votes, 63% of the respondents said "Yes, Prop 8 violates the Constitution." And 32% said "No, Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman."
Some people think the issue is merely generational and that as young people mature the opposition to gay marriage will dissipate. But Dick Cheney and Laura Bush are both seasoned Republicans who support gay marriage. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both Democrats with enormous support from young people, are opposed to it. This week's ruling by a Republican-appointed judge shows that the current stereotypes promulgated by gay civil rights leaders, their Democratic allies and the media are outdated and part of the reason the issue is destined to stay a political wedge.