NOM Election Watch 2010: Marriage Battles Emerging in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Kentucky


After yesterday’s primary vote, key marriage battles are shaping up in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky.

In Pennsylvania, Democrat Joe Sestak ousted sitting formerly Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, he will have to beat Pat Toomey who easily won the GOP nomination.

According to the Philadelphia Gay News, “Sestak Backs Gay Marriage” while GOP nominee Pat Toomey definitely does not. 

In Arkansas,  Congressman John Boozman, who strongly supported and voted for a federal marriage amendment, will face the either sitting senator Blanche Lincoln (who voted against the federal marriage amendment) or Bill Halter, who publicly opposed Arkansas law restricting adoptions by couples to married couples. (Lincoln and Halter will face a runoff to determine who is the Democratic nominee.)

In Kentucky, Tea Party candidate Rand Paul blew away the Republican establishment candidate.   Paul will face Jack Conway,  the most liberal candidate on the Democratic side, surely a plus in culturally conservative Kentucky. 

For weeks progressive blogs announced that Conway was pro-gay marriage.  In the final days of the campaign, in a televised debate with Democrat Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo (who sponsored Kentucky’s marriage amendment), Conway reluctantly and ambiguously said, in response to a direct question from Mongiardo that he both abhors all “discrimination” and supports the sanctity of marriage as one man and one woman.  Will Conway translate that sentiment into a commitment to vote for DOMA?  Or to take any action at all to protect Kentucky’s marriage amendment from an activist Supreme Court?  We don’t think so, but we’ll let you know.

Meanwhile on the GOP side, Dr. Rand Paul was endorsed by Dr. James Dobson in the final days of the campaign.  Dr. Paul  supports Kentucky’s marriage amendment but opposes federal policy on gay marriage one way or the other.  As we move into the general election, Kentucky marriage voters will want to ask both candidates: “If the Supreme Court tries to impose gay marriage on all 50 states—overturning Kentucky’s marriage amendment—will you support a constitutional amendment that protects our right to vote for marriage?” 

Rand Paul’s strong federalist streak may also lead him to support affirming that D.C. voters have the same rights as the people of Arkansas to pass a marriage amendment if they so choose.