George Allen and Gay Marriage

No, so far as I know, George Allen will not be leaving his wife to marry a dude. Although, come to think of it, it would be a fitting conclusion to an election cycle where a conservative congressman in charge of protecting kids was instead soliciting them for gay Internet sex and the head of an evangelical organization with having gay hooker sex on crystal meth. But I digress.

George Allen Vote Compared to Gay Marriage Amendment Vote Steven Taylor notes something interesting in the Virginia numbers that Mike Krempasky and I discussed last night: “there were a substantial number of persons who voted for the the marriage amendment who did not vote for Allen—demonstrating that he clearly had alienated some of his natural voter base.”

While it’s undeniably true that Allen alienated some of his base, I think the main explanation for this is that black and Hispanic voters, who naturally vote Democrat, are actually quite culturally conservative. My strong guess is that an overwhelming number of blacks and Hispanics voted for Jim Webb and against gay marriage.

I should note, for the record, that I voted for Allen and against the amendment. While I understand that enacting my preference (which didn’t happen in either case, it appears) would have left open the possibility of the courts imposing gay marriage against the wishes of the people of the Commonwealth–which I oppose–an amendment denying the legislature the right to recognize changing cultural mores down the line struck me as more pernicious.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Craig says:

    …an amendment denying the legislature the right to recognize changing cultural mores down the line struck me as more pernicious.

    Good call.

  2. DC Loser says:

    What’s next? Maybe an amendment saying that slavery wasn’t so bad in the Old Dominion?

  3. Your are exactly correct on the difference.

    If you look at the exit survey information (acknowledging the problems with the surveys), Allen got 62% of while males and the amendment got 61%. He got 53% of white females and the amendment got 54%. Allen got 25% of non-white males and the amendment got 58%. Allen got 18% of non-white females and the amendment got 54%.

    So Allen performed at about the same level as the amendment among whites, but significantly underperformed among non-whites with respect to the amendment. I think the cultural conservativeism of minorities is right on track.

    As far as “denying the legislature the right to recognize changing cultural mores down the line”, I think you are being disingenuous. It is just as easy to revoke an amendment as it is to pass one. The amendment ensures that it will be the voters who recognize the change not a group of 5 by judicial fiat or ~100 by legislation. Obviously your mileage varies, but I am much more concerned about its imposition by judicial fiat than I am that voters couldn’t revoke the amendment down the line.

    I think the South Dakota abortion ban is a good example to consider. It passed overwhelmingly in the state legislature, but failed the voters test. Any major cultural change should ideally be ratified by at least a majority if not a super majority of voters.

    While at one level you could say the liberal/conservative sides were the same on the SD abortion/gay marriage ban, it is obvious by the vote that it didn’t attract the same people. An 8% swing in total with an extra 0.5% voting on abortion but not on the gay marriage ban. 23,573 people distinguished between the two positions (7.1% of those voting on the gay marriage amendment, which when added to the 0.5% additional voters accounts for the 8% swing).

  4. Boyd says:

    I voted the same as you on the Senate race and the gay marriage amendment, James. My rationale on the amendment was different from yours, though.

    If the drafters had left it at denying gay marriage, I most likely would have voted for it, but I feel its language is over-broad. Denying the ability to even undergo various contracts between adults is something that will come back to haunt someone in the future.

  5. Jem says:

    I, too, voted as James did, feeling that defining marriage was not a constitutional issue. Larding a document whose purpose is to define basic human rights and political processes with a series of “in the weeds” procedural matters is a bad idea. Barry Goldwater was right that who you live with should be none of the government’s business…government should merely enforce contracts between consenting adults, without regard to personal affinities or emotionalism.