After the Massachusetts Supreme Court gave a thumbs-up to gay marriage last year, 2004 seemed destined to go down as the year homosexual nuptials went national. But voters in November sent gay activists back to the drawing board.
In February, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered his city clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That unleashed a nuptial free-for-all as thousands of homosexuals lined up at San Francisco City Hall to wed. By the time California courts intervened to quash the San Francisco marriages, nearly 4,000 couples had tied what turned out to be illegal knots. In August the California Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Newsom had overstepped his authority and voided Newsom-brokered marriages. As a publicity stunt, however, it worked, and the issue of gay-marriage-as-civil-right dominated the airwaves for months.
Back in Massachusetts, homosexuals began marrying in May after new legislation made same-sex weddings legal. In September, the Federal Marriage Amendment, a measure that would have added to the Constitution a traditional definition of marriage, failed in the U.S. House of Representatives, 227-186-well short of the two-thirds majority it needed.
Gay activists seeking ties that bind seemed on their way to suburban acceptance. But voters said otherwise. In November citizens in 11 states voted to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman by margins as high as 86 percent. Even liberal Oregon passed such a measure, stunning gay activists.