Hours after many pro-family leaders voiced outrage over the Supreme Court decision striking down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, others began looking ahead to 2014 and seeing political gain.
Some key political operatives see a silver lining for traditional-marriage supporters as a result of the high court's 5-4 decision Wednesday.
In U.S. v. Windsor, the justices ruled that the federal government could not deny same-sex couples the same benefits given to couples of different gender in the 12 states and the District of Columbia that permit gays to marry.
"It was definitely not a good day for the pro-family movement," Craig Tufty, veteran pollster and founder of the much-praised Iowa Poll in his home state, told Newsmax. "Will this decision be a positive catalyst for pro-family activists in and out of the state of Iowa in the long run — 2014 and 2016? Yes. Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen. It's going to be a rough ride."
Tufty specifically pointed to fundraising for pro-family candidates as something that definitely would benefit as a result of the controversial court ruling.
Referring to Iowa Republican Senate hopeful Bob Vander Plaats, a past leader of the effort to recall three Iowa Supreme Court justices who decided in favor of same-sex marriage, Tufty said: "I'd be willing to bet he had a major fundraising letter in the pipeline as soon as news of the court ruling came down."
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax, Gary Marx, executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, said: "These types of decisions of judicial over-reach, in which activist judges are partnered with friends in the executive branch — be they Barack Obama or [California Democratic Gov.] Jerry Brown — represent a pattern that the conservative grass-roots stood up to in 2010."
"From a popular standpoint, defense of marriage is a very popular issue for building coalitions," said Marx, who was the coalition's director for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign of 2004 and Mitt Romney's first presidential bid in 2008. He recalled how President George W. Bush and his re-election team "used the issue, attaching themselves to winning pro-marriage efforts in individual states."
In Ohio that year, a constitutional amendment was successful by a resounding margin and Bush's narrow win of the Buckeye State's electoral votes were pivotal to his re-election.
Marx said there was "strong populist marriage" of the issues of gay marriage and judicial over-reach in 2010, and predicted: "You'll see a lot of this in '14 and it will be a year like 2010."
Launched by onetime Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, the Faith & Freedom Coalition seeks to mobilize Christians and other pro-family Americans into the electoral process. Two weeks ago, it held a major conclave in Washington, D.C., that featured speakers including Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
The idea of "judicial over-reach" could work to win over voters who are not even opposed to same-sex marriage, he said.
"Twice, California courts have interjected themselves into marriage, an issue voters decided in statewide initiatives," Marx said. "An activist court that could do that could also render environmental decisions that pro-conservation voters don't like. For those who want an activist court, we say, 'Be careful what you wish for.'"
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