There has been speculation that the large African-American turnout that helped elect Barack Obama may have had something to do with the passage of Proposition 8 in California. I am sorry to say I thought that may have been a factor myself, perhaps due to religious reasons.
However, Nate Silver, creator of FiveThirtyEight.com, he who forecast Obama's election so accurately, says that this is not the case.
His assessment, based on exit polls, is:
"Certainly, the No on 8 folks might have done a better job of outreach to California's black and Latino communities. But the notion that Prop 8 passed because of the Obama turnout surge is silly. Exit polls suggest that first-time voters -- the vast majority of whom were driven to turn out by Obama (he won 83 percent [!] of their votes) -- voted against Prop 8 by a 62-38 margin. More experienced voters voted for the measure 56-44, however, providing for its passage.
...At the end of the day, Prop 8's passage was more a generational matter than a racial one. If nobody over the age of 65 had voted, Prop 8 would have failed by a point or two."
Silver expects that because it is the older voters who ensured the passage of Proposition 8, that eventually their influence will decline and same-sex marriage will be the law of the land.
"The good news for supporters of marriage equity is that -- and there's no polite way to put this -- the older voters aren't going to be around for all that much longer, and they'll gradually be cycled out and replaced by younger voters who grew up in a more tolerant era. Everyone knew going in that Prop 8 was going to be a photo finish -- California might be just progressive enough and 2008 might be just soon enough for the voters to affirm marriage equity. Or, it might fall just short, which is what happened. But two or four or six or eight years from now, it will get across the finish line."
Let's hope Proposition 8 is reversed a lot sooner than that, however. The lawsuits that have already been filed to invalidate the proposition may do the trick.
In the meantime, Connecticut began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples today, a month after the state Supreme Court had ruled that gay couples could marry.
We must work to ensure that everyone has an equal right to marry the person of their choice and make sure that this issue becomes a priority in the Obama administration.
And if anyone missed Keith Olbermann's excellent and moving "Special Comment" on this issue, here it is: