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Gay Marriage Ruling Might Mobilize Voters on Both Sides

Political consultants on both sides say same-sex marriage and religious liberty issues will play a significant role as electoral races develop — beyond just giving candidates a way to boost campaign coffers.

Human Rights Campaign press conference at Texas Capitol on June 29, 2015 just a few days following the SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality

Voters got a glimpse of how the same-sex marriage ruling could boost campaign coffers with the barrage of fundraising emails leading up to the June 30 deadline.

There was, for example, an email subject line from state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, asking voters to “Protect Religious Freedom!”

Or there was a fundraising email from Attorney General Ken Paxton trying to pile up donations before the deadline so “we can show the nation that Texas will not abdicate our voice and our leadership in defending conservative principles.”

But political consultants on both sides say the issue isn’t simply an opportunity for fundraising, and that same-sex marriage will play a significant role as electoral races develop in the coming months.

“There’s no doubt that rulings like the Supreme Court’s energize people to even get more involved in the government process,” said GOP consultant Luke Macias. “So I think when they are able to meet candidates, to hear where they’re at and are able to sympathize with their frustration, they’re definitely willing to step up and support those candidates.”

While same-sex marriage and religious liberty won’t be the sole issue on voters’ minds, Macias said the ruling has served as a “wake-up call” to voters, who will more and more ask candidates where they stand on same-sex marriage and religious liberties.

A handful of more moderate Republicans, Macias said, will “hope that this issue is going to go away,” but that’s not likely with potential religious liberty battles brewing. That includes possible lawsuits against county clerks and business owners from same-sex couples who “want the right to force somebody else to recognize them as much as the government does.”

And it’s that opposition that will also make the issue prominent among Democratic candidates, said James Aldrete, a Democratic consultant.

Democrats recognize “this fight isn’t over,” Aldrete said, with discrimination continuing in other areas like housing and employment.

“The unfortunate thing is, where there’s conflict is where you do mobilize people,” Aldrete said. “And because of the resistance, this opportunity that is at hand but people are still putting obstacles, that’s definitely an issue that candidates are going to have to address and should.”

There’s also the upcoming presidential election that will play a role, said GOP consultant Jordan Berry, especially among conservatives who see the importance of having a Republican president who can appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court.

“There’s nothing like the immediate fight to motivate people, and there’s nothing they can do about the Supreme Court except gear up to go help a Republican nominee win,” Berry said.

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