Appeal for Prop 22 Crosses Party Lines in California

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - In addition to choosing a nominee to be their party's candidate for the White House in November, Californians may vote yes or no to the statement that "only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," when they go to the polls Tuesday.

Known as Proposition 22, or the "Knight Initiative" after its author State Senator William "Pete" Knight, the measure attempts to shut the door on same sex marriage, and it is fast proving to be one of hottest issues on the ballot.

Prop 22's supporters, the Yes-on-22 contingent, say they are trying to defend the institution of marriage from homosexual activists who want to redefine marriage. Its detractors say they are fighting a proposal that is "mean spirited" and will create more intolerance for homosexuals.

Among other things, opponents are using the suicide of a homosexual member of the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints as an example of the pain the issue is causing people in the homosexual community.

"As it turns out, God never meant for me to be straight," wrote Stuart Matis in a suicide note. "Perhaps my death might be a catalyst for some good."

Hollywood and homosexual rights groups are pitting themselves against conservatives and family advocates. According to the latest polls, over 55 percent of voters will vote yes.

Democratic candidates Vice President Al Gore and former Senator Bill Bradley are both opposed to Prop 22, while GOP contenders Gov. George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain are in favor.

Rep. Tom Campbell, a fifth-term California Republican, has long opposed the measure on the grounds that it is unnecessary and divisive.

"He opposes to the Knight Initiative because he feels it is unnecessary. California does not recognize same sex marriage. Legally it's unnecessary and legislatively it's unnecessary," Campbell spokesman Suhail Khan told CNSNews.com.

Campbell was a strong supporter of the Defense Of Marriage Act when it was voted on in the House last year, and for the principle that no state is obligated to recognize another state's laws regarding marriage.

"The more opinion leaders who note that [Proposition 22] is utterly unnecessary, and the earlier they do so, the better our chances of defusing an issue that, if made more controversial, could result in increased hate and hurt in our state," Campbell said.

"I have always believed that marriage can only be between one man and one woman," McCain said recently. "As a United States senator, I voted for the Defense of Marriage Act to outlaw gay marriage in the United States. Consistent with that belief, I want to reiterate that I offer my full support for California's Proposition 22."

McCain's tough stand has not hurt him in the polls or in raising money, a campaign spokesman told CNSNews.com.

"John McCain will give the same message to a church group that he would give to an organization of gay Republicans or schoolchildren. He has shown he can reach across party lines to get Republicans, Democrats and independents to support him, and that hasn't changed since he announced his support for Proposition 22," said Alfie Charles, spokesman for the McCain campaign in California.

Conservatives have criticized Bush for what they call his "lukewarm" support of the issue. Calls by CNSNews.com to the Bush campaign in California for comment were not returned.

Campbell's stand, and that of other politicians who say they support traditional families, was strongly criticized by a leading public policy expert on homosexuality.

"It's another example of how liberal politicians give lip service to family values while working against them in substantive ways. If they back marriage, Prop 22 should be a no-brainer," Robert Knight, senior director of Cultural Studies with the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., told CNSNews.com.

"Homosexual activists in California are circulating petitions to radically redefine marriage, and 30 other states have seen the threat. Representative Campbell seems to be like a man who sees a brush fire coming toward his house and doesn't do a thing until the eves burst into flame," Knight said.

"To suggest nothing is prompting this other than bigotry against homosexuals, which is what he's saying, is a smear on pro-family activists. He is ignoring the damage this would do to the social fabric.

"Homosexual activists seem on the verge of turning the Democratic Party into the party of sexual anarchy, and the Republican Party into the party of impotence," Knight said.

David O. Coolidge, director of the Marriage Law Project in Washington, D.C., writing about Prop 22 in a recent issue of The Los Angeles Times, said: "It's one thing to be compassionate toward people who are exceptions to the norm. It's another thing to redefine the norm."

Ward Connerly, a black conservative known for his opposition to affirmative action, said the proposition is damaging because it is divisive and basically anti-homosexual.

"We get hung up on the word marriage," Connerly told CNSNews.com. "I'm just as conservative as anybody on the planet. We say it's okay for gays to be involved in a partnership but not marriage. We're playing word games here. People who are gay have been around from time immemorial and they will always be around. What do we want to do? Tell them to go back in the closet and stay there or do we want to give them the same kinds of freedoms other people have? I'm not afraid to share freedom with other people."

Many conservatives and family advocates are looking to the Latino population, which is expected to turn out in large numbers, to carry the measure.

"I think the Latino vote will carry Proposition 22," said Maria Elena Kennedy, a journalist who covers the issue for La Cruz de California, a bi-cultural and bi-national newspaper with a broad circulation in Southern California, in an interview with CNSNews.com.

"We see a big discrepancy between the electorate and the elected Latino officials, the Democrats in Sacramento who are consistently much more liberal than the people who put them there. They're almost in two different worlds. I think on Tuesday the Latino voters will vote overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition 22. All you have to do is look at the number of signs in Spanish up and down the state in favor of this measure," Kennedy said.