The National Organization for Marriage
is pushing to make gay marriage an issue in the upcoming California
GOP Senate primary.
The nation's most vociferous opponent
of gay marriage is spending $300,000 in the state on ads attacking
moderate Republican candidate Tom Campbell.
“Tom Campbell says he'd be a better
senator than liberal Barbara Boxer, but is he really much different?”
a female announcer says in a television ad.
“Tom Campbell supports gay marriage
and opposed Proposition 8,” a male announcer says, referring to
California's voter-approved gay marriage ban. “Barbara Boxer
supports gay marriage and opposed Prop. 8,” the female announcer
“Two peas, same liberal pod,” the
Campbell, a former congressman, is
vying against former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and state
Assemblyman Chuck DeVore to win the Republican nomination. In a
recent Public Policy Institute of California poll, Campbell and
Fiorina, who says she believes marriage should remain solely a
heterosexual union, are running nearly even.
NOM says it can wrench primary votes
away from Campbell because the majority of Republicans are unaware
that he supports gay marriage.
“Voters want politicians with the
courage to stand for their values, not the values of San Francisco,”
Brian Brown, executive director of NOM, said in a statement. “We
know that Californians, especially GOP primary voters, are going to
be asking who will be on their side for the tough fights ahead. As
ordinary Californians were standing tall for marriage in the face of
enormous pressures, harassment and name-calling during the Prop. 8
battle, Tom Campbell was nowhere to be found. Or rather, he was to
be found standing hand-in-hand with [Democrat] Barbara Boxer.”
This is NOM's first major outing in
California since it led the effort to pass Proposition 8 in November
Over the past year, the group has also
influenced races in New York, Massachusetts and Iowa, where it
supported candidates based on the single issue of gay marriage, at
times over the objection of the Republican Party.
“Our goal is not to necessarily elect
Republicans,” Brown told The Associated Press. “Our goal
is to elect candidates who will stand up and protect marriage.”
Both Fiorina and Campbell appear to be
ignoring the marriage ruckus for now. Fiorina does not list the
issue on her website and Campbell says it's a non-issue.
“I'm telling you straight: Whenever I
go out and speak, I get questions on unemployment, inflation,
interest rates, the Central Valley being cut off from water,”
Campbell told attendees at the California Republican Party convention
in early March. “I don't get the social questions, and I think
that's a sign of the importance of the economic issues.”
Dan Brown, president of the San
Francisco chapter of the gay group Log Cabin Republicans, agreed.
“I really don't think most of the
voters in California are one-issue voters, and that is what the
National Organization for Marriage is trying to imply,” he told gay
Bay Area Reporter.
But gay rights groups in the Golden
State know better than to outright discount the group's influence
among social conservatives. NOM is often credited for getting
Proposition 8 on the ballot in California and helping Republican
Scott Brown win the seat of former Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy.
And while nobody is certain how deep the group's pockets go, deep