The following is from the June 19, 2008, edition of Reuters. SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.
Analysis by Ed Stoddard
DALLAS (Reuters) – This week's start of gay marriages in California has pushed a hot-button social issue into the U.S. presidential campaign, but will it be a sideshow or a main event?
When voters in California and Florida choose between presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama and Republican John McCain in November, they will also be asked to weigh amendments to the state constitutions seeking to ban same-sex marriage.
Such ballot initiatives played a key role in President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election as they galvanized the Republican Party's conservative Christian base.
But several key things are very different this year.
The first is McCain. In sharp contrast to Bush, the Arizona senator is regarded with suspicion by many conservative evangelicals because of his past lack of support for a federal ban on same-sex marriage and other "liberal" offenses.
"McCain is a Republican nominee who has to appeal to the base but he is much queasier on social issues with the exception of abortion. He is much less confrontational on things like gay marriage," said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
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