- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 7, 2004

Move over, soccer moms. Take a pit stop, NASCAR dads. The most interesting — and potentially most important — demographic group in American politics today may very well be Mom-and-Pop Democrats.

And last Tuesday’s elections in Missouri illustrate why.

Last week, 71 percent of Missouri voters approved a proposal to amend the state constitution to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Many of the votes for the amendment were cast by Democratic voters (who outnumbered Republican primary voters by a 3-2 margin in the voting).

That so many Democrats voted to preserve the time-honored definition of marriage no doubt surprised proponents of same-sex “marriage.” They had maneuvered to hold the referendum on the day of the primary elections (when Democratic turnout would be heavy) rather than November when the general election would bring out more Republican voters.

Obviously, same-sex “marriage” proponents underestimated the number of Mom-and-Pop Democrats who strongly support the common-sense notion children do best when they grow up in a home that has a mother and a father. And it is easy to see why they miscalculated.

Most media stories about same-sex “marriage” cast the issue in partisan terms, as a struggle between the religious right wing of the Republican Party and the rest of enlightened civilization. But the truth is marriage (as defined from the earliest days) enjoys considerable support in mainstream America, particularly in communities of color (like mine).

In fact, numerous polls show a large majority of Americans do not want to see the definition of marriage changed. And this sentiment is by no means limited to card-carrying Republicans. A recent Wirthlin poll found 56 percent of self-identified Democrats support the Federal Marriage Amendment, affirming marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

These public opinion polls may understate actual support for a constitutional amendment to preserve marriage. Or at least so the Missouri vote suggests. In Missouri, most polls prior to the election showed support for a constitutional amendment at about 10 to 15 percentage points below the final vote tally.

The Missouri vote should give pause to national and state legislators who might be tempted to think Mom-and-Pop Democrats no more numerous than Log Cabin Republicans (the homosexual Republican group often celebrated in the media).

Moreover, the Missouri vote should embolden Democratic legislators who would like to follow in the footsteps of four African-American Democrats who courageously cast the deciding votes for a State Marriage Amendment in the Georgia House earlier this year.

These legislators defied heavy pressure from the homosexual lobby because they sensed what the Missouri election helped confirm — that there are a lot of us Mom-and-Pop Democrats trying to raise our kids to understand that part of the reason marriage is such an important social institution is that it brings together members of both halves of the human race.

Indeed, marriage models on a small scale the kind of unity between two very different types of people (a man and a woman) we Democrats want to see realized on a much larger scale between entire groups of people (of different racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds).

So, lest there be any doubt, most of us Mom-and-Pop Democrats aren’t looking for a reason to leave our party — and we sure don’t want our party to leave us. Instead, we want the Democratic Party to get back to its roots by standing up for society’s most vulnerable members — children.

We want our party to join U.S. Senate candidates like Inez Tenenbaum, South Carolina Democrat, and Chris John, Louisiana Democrat, who endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Most of all, we want our party to affirm what people have always known to be common sense — children do best when raised in a family that has a Mom and a Pop.

The Rev. Dick Richardson is an African-American minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston and is on the advisory board of the Alliance for Marriage, the national organization that drafted the Federal Marriage Amendment.

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