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alieNATION

The Divide & Conquer Election of 2012

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Edited By Dianne G. Bystrom, Mary C. Banwart and Mitchell S. McKinney

alieNATION presents research conducted by a national election team and leading scholars in political communication that explores a range of important topics and variables affecting voter attitudes and behavior in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
In exploring the messages, issues, and voters of the 2012 election, these studies employ multiple methods including experimental design, content analysis, rhetorical criticism, and survey research. Whereas other election research tends to investigate either the content or effects of campaign communication, the more comprehensive and systematic nature of this collection enables alieNATION to cohere thematically around considerations of voter alienation, political engagement, political efficacy, and ultimately, citizens’ voting decisions.
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Chapter Ten: Debating Marriage Equality in the 2012 Elections

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← 179 | 180 → CHAPTER TEN

HAYLEY J. COLE AND MITCHELL S. MCKINNEY

In the last decade of the 20th century, the issue of same-sex marriage caught the attention of the United States Congress in what has become an ongoing battle between state and federal legislative and judicial purview. We might now look back at Hawaii as the state that sparked our national same-sex marriage debate, a social struggle that has only intensified and continues even today. Events in Hawaii instigated national and state legislative battles regarding the legality of same-sex marriage, and efforts in the “Aloha State” to grant marriage equality prompted the U. S. Congress to adopt the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 (Library of Congress, 1996, p. 10101). In 1993, the Supreme Court of Hawaii ruled that Hawaii’s marriage law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples was unconstitutional because it violated the state’s equal rights amendment, which ensured that no one would be discriminated against on the basis of sex (Stevens, 2002, p. 7). This ruling held that limiting marriage to heterosexuals denied “same-gender couples equal protection rights in violation of article I, Section 5 of the Hawaii Constitution” (State of Hawaii, 1995, preface). Although Hawaii’s Supreme Court was the “first court in the United States to recognize same-sex marriage” (W. S. Rogers, 2010), it was the passage of DOMA at the federal level that became the catalyst for a string of individual states to adopt their own restrictions on marriage equality. As J....

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