After last year’s mid-term elections dimmed its hopes that a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage would pass the Congress, the D.C.-based Alliance for Marriage announced it was decamping for the field, to drum up anti-gay “caucuses” in the states. On the road to its “50-state strategy,” AFM crowed that a “Marriage Protection Caucus (TM)” was established in each of South Carolina, Maryland, and New Mexico, and its map claims several more, but it’s less clear how many actual legislators signed up in these states.
When AFM announced its “two-year plan” back in November, it also announced that it would be “deploying a diverse group of spokespersons,” claiming that its coalition was “unique and unprecedented in the degree to which it cuts across racial, cultural and religious boundary lines.” Now, AFM has begun to “deploy” Latinos, launching a California Latino Steering Committee to Protect Marriage.
AFM may have an uphill struggle recruit Latino support for an anti-gay amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A 2004 Field poll found that 57 percent of Hispanic voters in California opposed such an amendment. A 2006 poll by the Center for American Values in Public Life showed that Hispanics in the U.S. favor granting committed gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married couples in areas of hospital visitation, health insurance, and pensions by a two-to-one margin – a higher margin of support than non-Hispanics. In addition, a majority of Hispanics favor recognizing same-sex couples in either marriage or civil unions.
Other right-wing groups attacked AFM for supposedly being soft on civil unions and “counterfeit marriage,” but AFM is apparently focusing its efforts in California on a bill that would expand the rights of domestic partnerships – an act that would “erase the legal road map for marriage and the family from state law,” according to a member of AFM’s Latino committee. Nevertheless, the group’s ultimate goal remains to amend the U.S. Constitution. Speaking of efforts in some other states to erode domestic partner benefits, AFM President Matt Daniels said, “When the dust settles, we’ll have a national standard for marriage. What is going on in the states is a dress rehearsal.”