Bud Kennedy

There’s money in same-sex marriage – for opponents’ campaigns

Gov. Greg Abbott’s Facebook campaign post Friday was quickly followed by an appeal for donations.
Gov. Greg Abbott’s Facebook campaign post Friday was quickly followed by an appeal for donations. facebook.com/TexansForAbbott

The celebration began at 9 a.m. Friday.

The political fundraising began at 9:01.

For Gov. Greg Abbott in particular, the sound of wedding bells for same-sex couples also meant jingling cash registers of campaign money.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised to see Abbott’s Facebook campaign post at 11:25 a.m., showing him at the Capitol’s Ten Commandments marker right by the words “I AM the LORD thy God.”

“Marriage was defined by God,” the message read. “No man can redefine it. We will defend our religious liberties.”

Within two hours, a similar campaign email arrived with a plea after “No man can redefine it”: “If you agree, I ask that you make a contribution to my campaign today.”

Call it passing the cyber-collection plate. The email asked for $25 up to $2,500 or “$Other” to uphold God and liberty with a check to Abbott.

Plenty of other candidates, Republicans and Democrats, campaigned off a dizzying week when the Confederacy was not the only Lost Cause.

“Politicians of all stripes have become adept at using hot-button issues as rallying cries,” UT Arlington political science associate professor Rebecca Deen said by email.

Given voters’ deeply held beliefs, Abbott’s ad and letter “make perfect political sense,” she wrote.

TCU political science professor Emily M. Farris noted other campaign emails Thursday after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.

“Public regard for the Court is lower than usual lately,” she said by email: “It’s a good opportunity for those who disagree to mobilize supporters.”

At least Abbott didn’t take it as far as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who tweeted the same religious message but later told an Iowa audience, “If we want to save some money, let’s just get rid of the Court.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Houston called for amending the Constitution to allow removal of judges, and called the decision along with Thursday’s vote upholding the Affordable Care Act “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”

Fellow TCU professor James Riddlesperger, entering his 35th year, said by email that Friday’s reactions are “all about the ‘constant campaign.’”

“We used to draw a difference between campaigning and governing,” he wrote, “but in our polarized age, the distinction blurs.”

TCU professor Adam Schiffer noted the phenomenon some have begun to call “The Two Abbotts”: one who campaigns to the right with Ted Nugent and slogans like “Fast Cars, Firearms & Freedom,” and the other who governs as a reasonable executive.

“The fundraising letter seems a bit unstatesmanlike for someone who showed a pragmatic streak,” Schiffer wrote.

“But fear is the best motivator in politics.”

Candidates opposing same-sex marriage, Schiffer wrote, are now “reduced to arguing about the ‘religious liberty’ not to bake wedding cakes. … When the dust settles, Texans marry, and the world doesn't end, it's difficult to believe they will be able to squeeze much more leverage out of opposing marriage equality.”

There’s always money to be made bashing Washington.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy

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