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Turning the Marriage Tide

After defeat after defeat, suddenly several states passed amendments and laws giving gays the right to marry. What turned the tide? The answer is in an interesting article on Buzzfeed.

I consider myself a moderate, even though in today’s partisan world moderates seem like a dying breed. So it is interesting to read an article that shows that one of the main reasons why so many states adopted gay marriage rights was because proponents adopted tactics aimed at moderates. This came after a yearlong research effort, which made significant changes to the talking points and television ads run in support of marriage equality.

Instead of ads talking about “rights”, the new ads focused on committed relationships. Instead of avoiding talk about “values” the new ads speek to values directly, emphasizing the golden rule and how values should be taught in the home. And probably most importantly, the ads made it clear that accepting gay marriage may not be an easy decision and gave voters permission to change their position (just as Obama changed his position).

The new message looks something like this:

My name is Bill Stevens. I was brought up thinking that marriage was between a man and a woman, but I came to realize that gay and lesbian people are just born that way. After all, who would choose that harder path? I also know the value of my marriage and the vows we made, so I understand why gays and lesbians would want to make that unique and important commitment, too. I teach my children not to judge others and to practice the Golden Rule. I feel confident that they learn their values from my wife and me and legalizing gay marriage is not going to change that, nor does it threaten my marriage. For all these reasons, I’ve now decided to support marriage for gays and lesbians.

And it worked.



  1. Bearman wrote:

    Waiting for the Right to get the hint on this effective tactic.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink
  2. Solid Muldoon wrote:

    I’ve never understood the whole “born that way” argument. Why does it matter? I prefer brunettes over blondes. Was I born that way? Or is it a lifestyle choice? Who cares? Is it anybody’s business but mine? No. Should the government be able to tell me I can only marry a blonde? Hell no!

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Bearman, great point. You don’t have to be strident to convince people. Sometimes a carrot works better than a stick.

    I was more worried about that the left seemed to be reacting to demagoguery from the right by adopting the same tactics (e.g., responding to the right yelling “abortion is murder” by yelling back “you’re waging war on women by denying them the right to choose”).

    I think the right gets away with more demagoguery because they are more faith-based. But similar tactics from the left don’t seem to be as effective.

    Even so, the right seems to have gone off the deep end on their stridency (especially with statements about “legitimate rape” and creationism), and it is one of the things that is making them lose elections. But what gives me the creeps about the Right getting “the hint on this effective tactic” is that they may try to be hypocritical — saying one thing in public to get votes but doing the opposite. Or even saying the opposite in private (like Romney’s 47% comments). Luckily, someone invented mobile phones with video recording.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink