Will California Restore Traditional Marriage

The Wall Street Journal’s Political Diary reports today on the sudden surge in support for California’s Proposition 8, which would restore the traditional definition of marriage:

Opponents of California’s anti-gay marriage proposition have been playing hardball. Back in July, Attorney General Jerry Brown reworded the ballot measure to indicate an attempt to “eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry,” which supporters complained cast it in a harsh and negative light. Their preferred wording described Proposition 8 simply as reinstating in the state constitution a definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

Now supporters are hitting back with a new ad campaign that looks like it’s having a significant effect. According to a survey conducted last week for CBS, Prop. 8 has jumped out to a five-point lead, just 11 days after being down by the same margin.

A big reason appears to be a promotional effort by the National Organization for Marriage that reminds voters that a previous 2000 ballot initiative had been supported by 61% of voters but was overturned by “four activist judges” last May. The ad campaign also emphasizes the heavy-handed approach used by same-sex marriage supporters. One ad features San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom saying same-sex marriage is here “whether you like it or not.”

Here’s one of the ads being run by the National Organization for Marriage:

Back before he was thinking about running for president, Barack Obama supported same-sex marriage. Now he claims to oppose it, but has come out against the California initiative to re-enshrine traditional marriage in law. His hypocrisy on the issue becomes fully clear however, when you take into account his stance in support of repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. There’s no doubt that in the absence of federal legislation protecting the right of each state to define marriage as it sees fit, activist judges are likely to require states to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

No less a legal scholar than Obama supporter Doug Kmiec agrees:

ABC News’ Teddy Davis Reports: If Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., succeeds in repealing the entire Defense of Marriage Act, the recognition of same-sex marriage is more likely to spread from state to state, according to a leading conservative constitutional law expert.

“Certainly, I think it would be fair to say that it would be more likely for a court decision to impose the recognition of same-sex marriage from Massachusetts on another state in the event of the repeal of D.O.M.A.,” Pepperdine Law Prof. Douglas Kmiec told ABC News.

If California does succeed in re-establishing its prohibition on same-sex marriages, it will be a powerful signal to Obama and others in Washington that the American people still support traditional marriage, and are likely to punish politicians who try to end it.