26 February 2004

[UK Opposition's Michael] Howard endorses gay partnerships

But the Tories are not only after the pink vote, they are also trying to appeal to those who have come to regard them (in the words of their former party chairwoman, Theresa May) as the "nasty party". Party strategists have concluded that being seen as homophobic does not only alienate gay voters it also turns off the sort of floating voters it needs to attract to be electable. President Bush, and his strategist Karl Rove, have obviously concluded the opposite. America is, after all, a very different society to Britain. The UK, despite an established church, is almost an atheist society. The US, on the other hand, has a substantial bible belt and a powerful Christian right. Abortion is an enormously divisive issue in America, and almost irrelevant in Britain.

We will know in November whether the two made the right call, but research seems to point otherwise. Number crunching by the Annenberg Public Policy center shows that while Americans are against gay marriage, they are also against amending the constitution to outlaw it. Perhaps the Republicans should have copied their transatlantic cousins.

Perhaps indeed. Apart from 8 months of hell listening to slippery slope arguments designed to divide, not unite, the US, the Bush amendment is going nowhere. In the most spectacular example of public cynicism in a long time the White House hopes badly that their neglected religious supporters don't know that it is going nowhere and that the white House is blowing smoke in their eyes. I had thought of a different place for the White House to blow smoke but decided against it.

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