SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)–Defenders of a California initiative that would define marriage said they are puzzled by Vice President Al Gore’s accusations that the initiative is “mean-spirited and hateful.”
“It seems to me that the vice president is contradicting himself,” said Mark Washburn, president of Capital Resource Institute, a conservative California-based public policy group. “First he says he supports traditional family values and now he calls a bill that would define marriage as mean-spirited. That’s puzzling.”
At the heart of the issue is Proposition 22, an initiative that declares, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
“I’ve never seen 14 words cause such a stir,” Washburn said. “Unless, of course, you count the Ten Commandments.”
Gore, a candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination attacked Proposition 22 during a campaign stop in Venice, Calif. The vice president told a crowd of workers at One Digital Domain that he would work to pass legislation that would end discrimination against homosexuals in society.
Former Senator Bill Bradley, also a Democratic candidate, has also criticized Proposition 22.
Washburn said Proposition 22 isn’t mean-spirited or hateful. “There is no hidden agenda here,” he said. “This proposition doesn’t single any person out. It simply defines marriage.”
Washburn was also critical of Calif. Gov. Gray Davis. “The governor is straddling the fence on this issue,” Washburn said. Davis said Proposition 22 was a “wedge-issue” proposition that serves no purpose since the state does not recognize same-sex marriages.
“Gov. Davis is not that simpleminded,” Washburn said. “The reason we need this is because other states are considering redefining marriage. If Vermont redefines marriage, then we would have to recognize those marriages in California,” he said, referring to legislative deliberations under way in Vermont stipulated by the state’s supreme court.
Washburn said he doesn’t believe Gore and Bradley’s criticism will have an impact on the proposition. “If that’s the only argument they have, I’d say they have a pretty weak argument,” he said.
A number of religious organizations have come out in support of the measure, including the California Southern Baptist Convention, Assemblies of God, the state’s Roman Catholic bishops and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In other developments, Washburn said the grassroots support of Proposition 22 has taken to the state’s front yards. More than 500,000 yard signs have been erected in support of the initiative.
Voters will decide on Proposition 22 on the March 7 ballot.