Gays Losing Value to “Value Voters”?

If you paid attention to the “value voter” summit over the weekend you’ll have noticed that the right wing base hasn’t changed all that much. They want a religious zealot like Mike Huckabee to be the President of the United States and they still count abortion as their number one cultural issue.

What you may have missed, however, is what number two was on their list of important issues. Coming in at 18 percent behind abortion’s 41 percent response was “protection of religious liberty.” The “butter” of the usual “bread and butter” issues of the religious right—same-sex marriage—had slipped from the number two position drawing the concern of a paltry seven percent of “value voters.”

Does this mean that there is a sudden uptick of support for marriage equality among “value voters”?

No. It certainly doesn’t mean that. The event was rife with anti-gay rhetoric including panels on how acceptance of homosexuality will threaten that precious religious liberty by “silencing” Christians and making it illegal to preach against homosexuality.

Featuring disgraced beauty queen Carrie Prejean as their keynote speaker proves the anti-gay thread running through the entire summit as she crowed that God had chosen her to give the “non-PC” answer to judge Perez Hilton’s question about marriage equality:

To the Values Voter crowd’s immense delight, she added: “As I saw my goals and aspirations flash by me, I knew God had a plan for me… God chose me for that moment. He knew I was strong enough to get through all the junk that I have been through.”

Even though opposition to same-sex marriage seems to be cooling its heels at number three, it’s presence is still felt in just about all aspects of the “value voters” belief system. With abortion remaining at the number one spot, it’s clear that all things sexual continue to occupy the minds of those who seem the most opposed to anyone actually having sex.

It’s interesting to view the “value voter” summit in juxtaposition with a new survey conducted by the Des Moines Register. In a surprising move last April, the Iowa Supreme Court overturned a state ban on same-sex marriage. Since then, gays and lesbians have been allowed to marry and set up households in the state as legally wed couples. The religious right has consistently warned that if such a thing is allowed to happen that the sky will fall and heterosexual couples will be irreparably harmed by such lewd activity.

The poll, however, appears to disprove the hysterical rhetoric from the right. When asked if they had felt any positive or negative changes in their lives after marriage equality was granted, a whopping 92 percent said same-sex marriage had made absolutely no difference in their lives one way or the other. Only 4 percent said it had negatively affected them. The sky in Iowa is apparently quite safe and is not expected to fall anytime soon despite dire predictions from anti-gay groups.

The poll did find, though, that if Iowans were allowed to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage that 41 percent would vote to ban it while 40 percent would vote to keep it. Democrats in the state legislature have prevented any movement toward putting such a ban up for a vote.

But, as time goes on and more and more gay and lesbian people get married in Iowa, the less of an issue it will become. According to the newspaper, most people are already on the way to seeing same-sex marriage as “the new normal,” even if they don’t agree on religious or political grounds:

”It’s really none of my business what other people do in their lives,” said Curt Goodell, 38, a Johnston resident.

He identifies himself as a Republican but said he worries his party will try to make marriage a key issue in coming elections. “I don’t have any judgment toward people who want to get married: gays, straight or whatever,” Goodell said.

John Smith, 50, a Republican from Clarinda, opposes gay marriage because of religious reasons, but he supports civil unions.

“I’m going to nursing school now, and part of the nursing code is to be nonjudgmental,” Smith said. “In hospitals, if a same-sex partner couldn’t visit or get information about their partner’s health? I just think that’s wrong.”

With election season right around the corner, the “value voters” in Iowa agree with those who huddled in DC this past weekend – there are more important things to worry about than what the gay couple up the street does in bed. When they go to the ballot box next year, the majority of Iowans (63 percent to be exact) say it will be other issues that will determine how they vote and not their fear of Adam and Steve or Amanda and Eve.

Read the original article in Religion Dispatches

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