The political reality is that winning once will not be enough. The pro-LGBT side will have to win at least twice, because after a victory, the anti-LGB T side will force us back to the ballot.
When we win a future ballot measure fight on same-sex marriage, the victory will be tremendous—but it will not, unfortunately, be the end of the matter. It is predictable that our opposition will go back to the ballot to attempt to reverse the result. This is their pattern and practice because it advances their self-interest.
Our opposition runs anti-gay ballot measures and appeals to anti-gay prejudice because it helps them mobilize their base. Attacking us turns out more of their voters, raises substantial money for them, and divides the electorate in ways that potentially help in other contests on the same ballot. Voter polarization also helped them gain and helps them maintain control of key parts of the Republican Party. It is beyond the scope of this report to provide all the supporting data and analysis on this topic; instead, I refer interested readers to the data and discussion provided by Kevin Phillips in Part II of his 2006 book American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury. It is required reading for anyone concerned about the Republican Party’s dependence on the religious right wing for 40% of the party’s votes in major elections. To the best of my knowledge, Phillips was the first to document this number. For readers unfamiliar with Kevin Phillips, he was a huge champion of Richard Nixon, the Republican Party, and conservatism when he wrote The Emerging Republican Majority in 1969.
The bottom line is that we are currently a bonanza for our opposition. They will only stop running anti-gay ballot measures when we best them decisively enough that they recalculate their own self-interest. It is probable that one victory by us will not be enough to do that.
This is particularly true in California, where voters have twice rejected same-sex marriage at the ballot box, in March 2000 (Prop 22) and in November 2008 (Prop 8). But it is also true in states like Oregon, Maine, and Colorado that have suffered multiple statewide anti-gay ballot measures over the years (Oregon is the unfortunate title holder, having suffered five anti-gay ballot measures at the state level and an additional thirty at the local level since 1988). One win by our side is also probably not enough even in the states that have experienced only one anti-gay ballot measure, such as Idaho, Utah, Georgia, and Kentucky, when the one vote was a decisive defeat for the LGBT community. And many states have experienced multiple measures at the local level on a variety of LGBT issues even if they have had only one statewide anti-gay vote; examples include Michigan, Florida, and Texas.
Our checkered electoral history is one additional reason why it makes sense for the pro-LGBT side to return to the ballot box only when we have a reasonable chance to win. Another loss by our side in California increases the chances that we will have to wage three, four, of five of these campaigns over the next ten years rather than two.