Gay marriage is taking center stage on the ballot in four states and the explosive issue is expected to bring more people out to vote as groups for and against same-sex marriage pump millions of dollars into eleventh-hour lobbying efforts.
In Minnesota, a ballot initiative would ban same-sex marriage by way of a constitutional amendment, while in Maine, Maryland and Washington, the initiatives allow voters to decide whether to approve such unions.
“I do understand and accept that there are other patterns for families. However the basic prescription for marriage, I embrace it as a biblical prescription. A man and a woman,’’ Marlaa Reid of Baltimore told CNN.
She and her husband The Rev. Frank Reid of Bethel AME Church are working in their community to defeat the initiative.
"It does not mean that we don't love our gay, lesbian and transgender brothers and sisters," Frank Reid added. “It means that we don't take our direction from the president, whoever he or she may be. It is a reminder to us that God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.’’
While Bethel AME and many other churches around the country are spearheading low-budget, word-of-mouth campaigns to get their messages out, a number of powerful conservative groups have large war chests in place to get more voters to the polls to defeat gay marriage.
The Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic organization, says it has shelled out $6 million or more in the past seven years since 2005 to promote its opposition to gay marriage rights.
And the National Organization for Marriage has a $2 million matching grant challenge on its website, as well as an ad running in Minnesota that declares: “Everyone has a right to love who they chose, but nobody has a right to redefine marriage.’’
“Having a measure on the ballot increases turnout by a few points because it gets people more engaged in the issues and gets them to come out and vote,’’ Jennie Drage Bowser, who analyzes ballot measures at the National Conference of State Legislatures,’’ told Agence France Presse.