Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ooops. The NYT editorial board made a mistake in its otherwise excellent op-ed about Ireland's gay marriage referendum

You can bet the New York Times will be running a correction tomorrow after it hears from its readers in Washington, Maryland and Maine about this editorial:
...On Friday, love didn’t just prevail across Irish cities and villages. It triumphed.
     By becoming the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote, Ireland gave a powerful boost to the quest for gay equality, a movement that has achieved a string of victories around the world over the past decade but remains a distant goal in many countries where intolerant attitudes remain entrenched.
     ...The Yes victory was resounding. With more than 60 percent of eligible voters casting ballots, a phenomenal turnout, the referendum was approved by roughly two to one.
     The opposition, aided by some Catholic bishops who campaigned for No votes, peddled the hollow arguments that have same-sex marriage opponents around the world on a losing streak. They warned that legalizing same-sex marriage would undermine unions between a man and a woman and argued that marriage has an inherently reproductive purpose.
     In a statement conceding defeat, the Iona Institute, the main opposition group, said it would continue to affirm “the importance of biological ties and of motherhood and fatherhood.” The absurdity of that statement speaks for itself.
     As soon as the referendum is ratified by Parliament, Ireland will join 19 nations that have legalized same-sex marriage — an honor roll that does not include the United States.
     The Irish path to legalizing same-sex marriage was remarkable because advocates have long seen courts and legislative initiatives as easier paths to prevail
on an issue that continues to trouble many people on moral and religious grounds. Lawmakers in the United Kingdom approved same-sex marriage in 2013. In the United States, the expanding recognition of marriage rights in 36 states and the District of Columbia has been achieved through lawsuits and legislatures. The Supreme Court is expected to rule next month on a case that could establish a constitutional right to same-sex marriage...
     Well, not exactly. In nearly 10% of those states — Maryland, Washington and Maine — it was voters who OK'd gay marriage, not the legislatures or courts. And of the three, interestingly, Maryland and Maine each have larger populations that does beautiful Ireland, although none of the three states approved marriage equality as resoundingly as did Ireland last Friday in its lopsided 62%-38% approval. Below is what happened in Maryland, Washington State and Maine, courtesy of Wikipedia:
     Maryland: Question 6 was approved by 52.4% of voters on 11/6/2012. Washington State: Referendum 74 was approved by 53.7% of voters on 11/6/2012. Maine: On May 6, 2009, Maine governor John Baldacci signed into law a bill to allow same-sex marriage in the state, following legislative approval, but opponents of the bill successfully petitioned for a referendum vote before that law went into effect.
     On 11/3/2009 the referendum nullified the law, 53%-47%.
     In 2012 another referendum effort was mounted, this time to legalize gay marriage. It was approved by the voters on 11/6/2012 by the same margin, 53-47, that the anti-gay marriage referendum had received three years earlier. The law took effect on December 29, 2012, 30 days after the election results were certified by Governor LePage on November 29.

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