Thursday, May 03, 2007

Pro-Marriage Forces Broaden Strategy

Today's Boston Globe has an article describing how proponents of marriage equality are seeking help from the Democratic National Committee to prevent a marriage ban from reaching the ballot in 2008. Their argument is that a 2008 fight in Massachusetts for marriage rights will drain resources from the presidential election. Since Massachusetts is a big Democratic donor state -- both in terms of money and activists -- it makes sense that the national party might not want us distracted by a local fight. The DNC, for its part, has not decided whether to get involved at this point. They have to know that should they offer any assistance, it will wind up on pamphlets and mailings sent to voters in states where gay marriage is an attractive wedge issue for Republicans.

Now, I'm not sure myself what sort of incentives the DNC could offer that might cause a legislator to switch their vote. Most legislators regularly run unopposed, so it's unlikely that they need campaign funds so badly they'd trade them for cash. Not only that, but most national-level Democratic candidates are against marriage equality, and rather favor civil unions if anything, so it seems to me that they can't even leverage their big names. Personally, I'd like to see the 142 members in favor of equal marriage rights band together and strip all of the budget earmarks from the others. I wonder what those legislators would pick if they had to choose between bringing the marriage fight to the ballot or bringing home the bacon to their district. Anyway, it certainly does not hurt to ask the national party for some consideration, and as Mass. Liberal points out it's an encouraging sign that marriage proponents are broadening their strategy.

Also in the article, Kris Mineau of the anti-marriage Massachusetts Family Institute scoffed at the effort by his opponents to bring in help fromthe national committee saying, "we consider this to be a Commonwealth issue that percolates up from the grass roots." That struck me as extremely disingenuous given how much money and manpower the forces opposed to marriage equality have already accepted from out-of-state. Since the Mass. Family Institute is a non-profit, they do not have to disclose their donors, but which is working in concert with MFI and heavily supported by them, is a ballot question committee, and they are subject to campaign finance disclosure rules. According to campaign finance records, has accepted nearly $75,000 from James Dobson's Colorado-based Focus on the Family and $50,000 from Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values, which is affiliated with Dobson's group. Now, it's fine if they want to take Dobson's money, but don't lecture us about how local you are when you're taking six figures from one out-of-state source.