Missouri's Gay 'Marriage' Ban Victory Reveals Success of Grassroots Efforts

The group supporting the amendment won 71 percent of the vote after spreading word on the issue by knocking on doors, making phone calls, and speaking at church rallies.
( [email protected] ) Aug 04, 2004 05:00 PM EDT

In a landslide victory for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage” on August 3, Missourian voters demonstrated how public sentiment can be more powerful than television ads when it comes to preserving traditional values.

With nearly all precincts reporting, the amendment defining marriage to be between a man and a woman successfully won 71 percent of the vote.

Missouri is one of 38 states with a state law banning same-sex “marriage,” called The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Amendment opponents have called the measure discriminatory and unnecessary given the DOMA is already in effect. However, supporters of traditional marriage believe the court could still strike down the law and adopting a constitutional amendment on the issue would elevate the law to a constitutional level, making it less vulnerable to legal challenges.

"I'm very gratified and encouraged and thankful that the people of this state understand our current policy's a wise public policy and they want to see it protected from a legal challenge," said Vicky Hartzler, a spokeswoman for the Coalition to Protect Marriage in Missouri, which spearheaded the campaign supporting the amendment.

Although the group supporting the amendment only raised a few thousand dollars compared to the $360,000 raised by the opposition, they were able to garner public support by a grassroots effort of knocking on doors, making telephone calls, holding church rallies and speaking at community events.

The Constitution Defense League, the group which opposed the amendment, used similar grassroots techniques in addition to running a television ad in the few days before the vote but were less successful.

Doug Gray, campaign manager of the Constitution Defense League, said the group will share they learned with other states, “what worked, what didn’t work.”

Gray said, “Ultimately we’re right and they’re simply wrong.”

The director of the Culture & Family Institute from the nation’s largest women advocacy group, Concerned Women for America, said the homosexual message is losing its influence.

"Homosexual activists and their liberal allies failed to inspire people with their one-note message that defending marriage is a form of bigotry,” said Robert Knight upon hearing the results of the Missouri vote.

“The middle ground is disappearing fast,” Knight said. “You are either for protecting marriage, or you’re not. The name-calling is not working anymore, and Americans who believe in marriage and family are tired of being accused of ‘hate’ and ‘intolerance.’ There is nothing intolerant about affirming marriage as the cornerstone of civilization.”

Missouri joins four other states -- Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska and Nevada – who have already adopted similar amendments to protect traditional marriage.

In the following months, nine other states will vote on same-sex “marriage” bans. Louisiana will vote on a similar amendment on Sept. 18, while Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah will decide on the future of marriage in their state on Nov. 2. Initiatives in Michigan, North Dakota, and Ohio to place the measure on the ballot are still pending.

President of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins sees Missouri, often nicknamed the “Show Me” state, as a successful model for other states to follow.

"Citizens from all across the ‘Show Me’ state have shown once again that when the people's voice is not muted by unelected judges they speak out soundly in support of marriage as it has always been traditionally defined. In the months ahead marriage may be on the ballot in at least a dozen other states.

“We believe today's win for traditional marriage in Missouri will prove to be just one of many victories for marriage this fall.”