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Gay Unions Put Kerry Campaign Asunder

By Donna Britt
Friday, November 5, 2004; Page B01

I had just finished speaking at a Northern Virginia church when an attractive young woman with a pixie haircut introduced herself, saying she'd just moved here from Boston.

"This," she said, gesturing at her female companion, "is my wife."

"Nice to meet you!" I said, asking how they were enjoying Washington and praying that no one could tell that inside, I was reeling.

But from what? Surprise, even though I knew that hundreds of such newlyweds have existed since the recent explosion of gay marriages? Confusion that such warm, likable women would be dismissed by some as hell-bound underminers of a God-fearing nation?

From change smacking me in the face?

The next night, I sat before the TV, digesting President Bush's increasingly evident win. I'd sat in the same spot in February and again in May watching footage of same-sex couples whooping with joy over finally exchanging vows in San Francisco and Massachusetts. Back then, my feelings of fascination and apprehension were overwhelmed by an internal whisper:

This is awful for the Kerry campaign.

Since Tuesday, people have convincingly cited terrorism, war in Iraq, Republican election high jinks, young, "PlayStation-beats-standingin-line" non-voters and other factors for Kerry's loss.

I think I called it right earlier this year.

In a recent column, I noted that the Bible mentions poverty more than 2,000 times. The Good Book refers to homosexuality fewer than a dozen times, often obliquely. Jesus never mentioned homosexuality; same-gender sex didn't even make God's Top Ten list of no-nos. Adultery and premarital sex, also biblically frowned-upon, abound.

Yet gay marriages, and the legal decisions that fueled them, sparked a firestorm that helped consume Kerry's presidential hopes.

In the past year, Americans endured numerous moral outrages, including mounting casualties in Iraq, fresh-faced U.S. soldiers torturing helpless prisoners and a thin but rested-looking Osama bin Laden scolding us from a TV studio. There wasn't a thing we felt we could do about it.

But gay newlyweds' in-your-face exuberance provided a "Fear Factor" moment many Americans didn't have to sit still for.

On Tuesday, strong majorities voted for 11 state ballot initiatives rejecting same-sex marriage. In swing states, the Bush campaign successfully capitalized on the president's call in February for a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to the union of men and women.

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