Last night on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow pointed out a 36 point swing in support for equal marriage rights in the state of Maryland. That swing is from a PPP poll, which shows a 36 point swing from a previous poll taken just two months ago. This kind of swing is not seen in American politics. Furthermore, it’s going to become an issue because in response to Maryland passing marriage equality, opponents are putting the measure back on the ballot, where minority rights seldom fare well.
To what can we attribute this huge upswing in support for equal marriage? President Barack Obama’s public support.
Rachel Maddow: Shortly before early March, PPP did a poll to see if people would vote for or against the marriage law if it does go to a referendum. The votes were pretty good. A majority of people in Maryland supported the law. Same sex marriage rights were ahead eight points. That was in March.
They just redid that same poll a few days ago, all of a sudden in Maryland, wow, something has happened. Same sex marriage rights are winning not by eight points in Maryland, 20 points, and a 12-point swing.
What happened? Here’s what happened. One large and very influential voting block in the state of Maryland that makes up nearly 30% of the population in that state over the course of the last two months went through a massive transformation on this issue. African-American voters in Maryland a couple months ago in that first poll in March were against same sex marriage rights in their state by 17 points. Now, they are for same sex marriage rights by 19 points. Same poll. That is a 36-point swing in two months. Nothing swings 36 points in two months in American public opinion. Nothing. This just does not happen.
Roll Clip of President Obama speaking:
President Barack Obama: For me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.
Rachel Maddow: When the president came out for marriage equality, everybody knew it was important and historic but nobody knew what it’s practical effect would be. That’s what was important; he made this pronouncement without political certainty what would happen as a result. That was a big deal.
Now, we are starting to see the results. It’s not counting up who agreed with him already and who disagreed and how this will change their opinion and likelihood to vote. He is changing people’s minds. What this means for the country yet we do not know. In the state of Maryland, we can count overtly how much of a quantitative difference that decision by the president has just made.
Obama’s support for equal marriage brought about a huge swing of opinion on the issue from African-American voters, and united two camps under the Democratic umbrella. The divide between African Americans and gays was not an accidental or even natural divide, but was actually a deliberate attempt on the part of conservative groups, namely The National Organization for Marriage (to which Romney donated $10k before their push against gay marriage in California), to drive a wedge between the Democratic factions.
The leading opponents of same-sex marriage planned to defeat campaigns for gay marriage by “fanning the hostility” between black voters from gay voters and by casting President Obama as a radical foe of marriage, according to confidential documents made public in a Maine court today.
The documents, circulated by the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, are marked “confidential” and detail the internal strategy of the National Organization for Marriage.
“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constituencies,” says an internal report on 2008 and 2009 campaigns, in a section titled the “Not A Civil Right Project.”
The document also targets Hispanic voters, whom conservatives have long hoped would join the backlash against gay rights.
So much for that plan. Marriage rights were recently taken away via an amendment to the state constitution in North Carolina, where a very wise African American preacher warned his parishioners that restricting rights for anyone is a Trojan horse. Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C., said,
“Our message is consistent: A vote on the same-sex marriage amendment has nothing to do with your personal and religious opinion on same-sex marriage but everything to do with whether or not you believe discrimination should be codified and legalized constitutionally. We should never seek to codify and vote discrimination, hate and division into the very heart and framework of our Constitution.
The real insult to the Civil Rights Movement is that the same regressive, ultra-conservative Tea Party type folks suing to overturn the 1965 Voting Rights Act, re-segregating and robbing our public schools of valuable resources, blocking workers’ rights to organize, trying to force us all to get photo IDs to exercise our right to vote and cut back on the time and opportunities to vote, and attempting to repeal the Racial Justice Act, now somehow think the sons and daughters of the Civil Rights Movement cannot see through their Trojan Horse trick.”
The Pastor is correct in noting the dangers of allowing the majority to vote away rights for anyone. People don’t have to agree with or even like what a minority is doing, but to take upon themselves the right to deny or restrict the rights of other Americans is disturbing business. It is the Trojan Horse riding in under false pretenses.
The same people who seek to deny marriage rights are also hungrily eying up the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but they don’t mind cuddling up to African Americans and Hispanics in an disingenuous plot to divide the Democratic Party. In fact, they have thrown $1 million dollars to expose Obama as a “social radical.”
I guess they can use that money for killing unions now, since Obama has preempted them by exposing himself as a leader who understands the importance of equal rights for all. Obama has also just poured water on that Trojan Horse, by helping to reunite these factions within the party.
If we take anything away from the confidential revelations of lobbying groups, it is that when we allow ourselves to be divided, we all lose. In standing for the rights of our brothers and sisters, we stand for our own rights.
In the end, President Obama’s words of support carried too much power for the hate groups, and wise African Americans noted the insidious and inherent danger of the Trojan Horse. Conservatives thought they could paint him as a social radical, but instead Obama has changed hearts and minds on the issue of marriage equality.
It’s called leadership.