Professor of Public Policy Studies and Political Science Craig Rimmerman was quoted in an article in California’s Desert Sun about Congressional District candidates’ comments regarding same-sex marriage.
“After President Barack Obama’s historic comments made same-sex marriage a national talking point Wednesday, Rep. Mary Bono Mack refused to take a stand on an issue that impacts many desert residents’ lives,” the article noted. “Her opponent, Democrat Raul Ruiz, agreed with Obama’s belief that gay and lesbian couples should be able to marry.”
The article continues that “experts such as Craig Rimmerman said it remains ‘a wedge issue’ in many districts.”
“For most politicians, they would like it to go away. It’s the kind of issue that can certainly energize the base of one’s opponent,” said Rimmerman about the same-sex marriage debate.
In April 2005, Rimmerman was appointed series editor for Westview’s “Dilemmas in American Politics” book series. Each book in the “Dilemmas” series addresses a real world problem and raises issues that are of most concern to undergraduate students. In 2002, Rimmerman was appointed series editor for the Queer Politics, Queer Theories series at Temple University. He is the author of “From Identity to Politics: The Lesbian and Gay Movements in the United States” (2001), and “The Presidency by Plebiscite: The Reagan-Bush Era in Institutional Perspective” (1992).
Rimmerman joined the Colleges faculty in 1986, with Ph.D. and master’s degrees in political science from the Ohio State University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and English from Miami University. He is a Congressional Fellow who worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide and continues to remain in touch with the nation’s capitol in several ways, including leading the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Washington, D.C. semester.
The full article follows.
The Desert Sun
Bono Mack stays mum, Ruiz backs Obama
Erica Felci • May 10, 2012
After President Barack Obama’s historic comments made same-sex marriage a national talking point Wednesday, Rep. Mary Bono Mack refused to take a stand on an issue that impacts many desert residents’ lives.
But while the Palm Springs Republican stuck to her years-long argument that marriage isn’t a federal issue, her political opponent, Democrat Raul Ruiz, agreed with Obama’s belief that gay and lesbian couples should be able to marry.
The 36th Congressional District candidates’ comments will inevitably be debated by people on both sides of the political aisle.
Even in the Coachella Valley – widely considered one of the nation’s most welcoming communities for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals – many politicians try to avoid jumping into the polarizing debate of marriage over civil unions.
“Since this is not a federal issue, Congresswoman Bono Mack prefers to keep her personal beliefs private,” her spokesman Ken Johnson emailed The Desert Sun when asked for her views on the issue.
“This is America. The president has a right to express his opinion, if he chooses. But that doesn’t mean other people have to shout out their feelings from a street corner.”
Same-sex marriage has been a divisive topic in the Coachella Valley for years, intensifying in 2008 when Californians passed Proposition 8 to ban such unions.
The vote reversed a state Supreme Court ruling that had legalized gay marriage earlier that year. About 300 marriages were performed at Palm Springs City Hall from May to September 2008, 95 percent of them same-sex ceremonies. Nearly 30 percent of the couples were from out of state, primarily Arizona and Washington.
A Desert Sun analysis of the Prop. 8 vote found 54.3 percent of Coachella Valley voters supported Prop 8.
Palm Springs was the only desert city to oppose the ban, and even traditionally Democratic cities such as Coachella and Indio supported it.
Experts have credited that to the large Latino population and traditional beliefs rooted in ties to the Catholic church, which opposes same-sex marriage.
Those are the same voters that Ruiz, Bono Mack’s first Latino challenger, will court this year.
Ruiz was traveling Wednesday and was not available for an interview.
“I support marriage equality because I am opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether based on gender, race, age, or who you love,” Ruiz said in an email.
“The right to marriage should be available to everyone who wants to be in a committed loving relationship.”
Although the White House somewhat reluctantly tackled the topic this week, experts such as Craig Rimmerman said it remains “a wedge issue” in many districts.
The public policy professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York also has written extensively about LGBT issues.
“For most politicians, they would like it to go away,” Rimmerman said of the same-sex marriage debate.
“It’s the kind of issue that can certainly energize the base of one’s opponent.”
Bono Mack has for years irked gays and lesbians with her refusal to share her position on marriage.
She has insisted it is an issue for state leaders, and has twice voted against a federal constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.
Bono Mack was a strong supporter of her stepson Chaz Bono, who was in a committed relationship to his former fiancee during his transition from a woman to a man.
Her office said she was working on legislation Wednesday and was not available for an interview.
“My position has not changed: Same-sex marriage remains an issue for each state to determine,” Bono Mack reiterated by email.
“Like so many other Californians, I will be watching with great interest as this matter is finally resolved by the courts.”
Although Ruiz certainly made his position clear, what’s still unknown is how his views will go over with Latino voters.
His own supporters have been sensitive to that balancing act.
His political aide, Elle Kurpiewski – president of the Democrats of the Desert and who ran against Bono Mack in 2002 – announced to The Desert Sun at a meeting Tuesday that Ruiz had told her he was “for” same-sex marriage.
It was the first time the paper heard Ruiz had taken a stand on the issue.
The newspaper later received an email from Democratic leaders who were at the meeting, seeking to retract the comment because they didn’t think they should speak on Ruiz’s behalf.
Erica Felci is a political reporter for The Desert Sun. She can be reached at (760) 778-4644, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @EricaFelci on Twitter.