November 6, 2012turned out not to be a good day for those of us who believe in maintaining the natural definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The pro-family movements 32-state winning streak in state-wide ballot measures dealing with marriage was broken by narrow defeats in all four states considering the issue. An amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman (such as those already adopted in thirty states) fell short in Minnesota, voters in Maryland and Washington gave approval to legislative bills to legalize same-sex marriage, and the electorate in Maine legalized same-sex marriage by voter initiative.
Advocates of homosexual marriage will celebrate the outcome in these states as a breakthrough indicating momentum in support of redefining our most fundamental social institution. The irony, however, is that their narrow margin of victory in these four relatively liberal states may provide evidence that a solid majority of Americans nationwide still opposes same-sex marriage.
How can that be? The answer is simple. In a year in which the losing candidate for president, Republican Mitt Romney, won 48 percent of the popular vote nationwide, the one-man-one-woman marriage position strongly outpolled Romney in all four states where the marriage issue was on the ballot.
Here are the results from the states (updated through November 20), comparing the results for the more liberal position on marriage (support for same-sex marriage) with the more liberal presidential candidate (President Obama), and the more conservative position (support for one-man-one-woman marriage) with the more conservative candidate (Romney):
Question 1 (legalize same-sex marriage)
Yes 52.59% (Obama 56.37%)
No 47.41% (Romney 41.17%)
Question 6 (legalize same-sex marriage)
For 52.4% (Obama 62.0%)
Against 47.6% (Romney 35.9%)
Amendment 1 (define marriage as one man and one woman)
Yes 47.44% (Romney 44.96%)
No 51.19% (Obama 52.65%)
Referendum 74 (legalize same-sex marriage)
Approved 53.46% (Obama 55.98%)
Rejected 46.54% (Romney 41.51%)
The vote for natural marriage runs ahead of the vote for Romney in each of these states, by margins ranging from 2.48 percent in Minnesota to a whopping 11.7 percent in Maryland.
Adding the vote totals for all four states together, I came up with the following totals:
For same-sex marriage: 51.99% (for Obama 56.70%)
For natural 1M1W marriage: 47.18% (for Romney 40.95%)
Thus, in the four states combined, the pro-family position outpolled Romney by 6.2 percent. This certainly casts doubt on any theory that in order to be more successful at the polls, Republican candidates should move leftward on this issue.
It also, however, casts doubt upon the claims (from some recent public opinion polls) that a majority of Americans now support legalizing same-sex marriage. How do I calculate that? Well, in these four states, the vote in favor of homosexual marriage was only 91 percent as large as Obamas vote, while the vote to defend the natural marriage of a man and a woman was 114 percent of Romneys vote.
If we extrapolate those figures to the popular vote for Obama (50.8 percent) and Romney (47.6 percent) nationwide, we come up with an estimate that 54 percent of Americans would probably still vote to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, while only 46 percent would vote to redefine it a solid margin of 8 percent. However, a post-election survey by the National Organization for Marriage, asking a straightforward question about the definition of marriage (free of the confusing and misleading ballot language found in states like Maryland), found that an even higher percentage of Americans, 60 percent, agree that marriage is between one man and one woman, while only 34 percent disagree.
As they have been doing ever since a Massachusetts court first redefined marriage nine years ago, advocates of homosexual marriage will undoubtedly trumpet that the tide has turned and momentum is on their side. However, with the score against them by 41-9 in state definitions of marriage, 31-4 in statewide ballot measures, and 60-34 percent in public opinion, the redefinition of marriage remains a long way from inevitable.