Yesterday’s decision by the California Supreme Court, overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage, has launched widespread speculation about how the ruling will affect the upcoming election.
We all remember how Bush and the Republican Party pushed the issue of gay marriage relentlessly during the 2004 campaign. To some observers, the boost in voter turnout among social conservatives — motivated by their opposition to same-sex marriage — was the decisive factor tipping the election to Bush.
Could the same thing to happen again this year?
To date, social conservatives have been somewhat lukewarm in their support of John McCain; his position on gay marriage may be one of the reasons why.
In 2004, John McCain opposed the constitutional amendment proposed by President Bush that would have banned same-sex marriage. McCain’s stance on the issue is similar to the two Democratic candidates; all three oppose same-sex marriage but support civil unions that would offer gay partners the same rights as married couples.
Of course, McCain has a distinct tendency to reverse positions and pander to the far right when he believes it will benefit him politically.
McCain voted against and publicly criticized the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for being skewed towards the wealthy. However, McCain now claims that the same tax cuts he once opposed must be made permanent.
During the 2000 campaign, McCain famously attacked Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance.” Six years later, McCain delivered the commencement address at Falwell’s Liberty University, which culminated his open courting of the religious right.
Will McCain now alter his stance on gay marriage in an effort to galvanize social conservatives?