Taylor, Shuler share similar views on gay marriage

Gibbs Knotts, a political science professor at Western Carolina University, took time to address the gay marriage issue and how it might affect the upcoming election between Rep. Charles Taylor, R-Brevard, and challenger Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville.


SMN: Is gay marriage a viable issue that Republicans can use against Democrats in the aftermath of the Foley page scandal?

Knotts: I think it would be tough to connect the Foley scandal and gay marriage. First, Foley is a Republican so it will be difficult for the Republican Party to make the Foley scandal any type of issue. In fact, I would think the Republicans would want to avoid the Foley scandal as an issue in the upcoming elections.

SMN: Both candidates basically agree that marriage should be between a man and a woman. While Taylor is in favor of a Constitutional Amendment in support of the man/woman marriage, Shuler favors states tackling this issue. Who might benefit more from taking a stand on this issue?

Knotts: The issue of gay marriage was on the ballot in 11 states in 2004. All 11 states voted to ban same-sex marriages. The results in the neighboring state of Georgia were 76 percent to ban gay marriage. From a political perspective, it makes sense that both candidates have taken the position that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I don’t think the nuanced differences between Shuler and Taylor on this issue will resonate with WNC voters.

SMN: Will this issue — and the moral values issues that dominated the 2004 national elections — now take a back seat to the War on Terrorism and the War in Iraq?

Knotts: Moral values always play some role in elections but clearly this election appears to be about the War on Terrorism and the War in Iraq. It is also serving as a referendum on the Bush administration and the Republican leadership in the House and Senate.

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