WASHINGTON – Christian conservatives (search) are casting a wider net this year in their search for likely voters — especially conservative ones — by asking people on the phone how they feel about same-sex marriage as well as their views on abortion, a standard question in previous election cycles.
"The federal marriage amendment (search) will be an important issue in the states it's on the ballot," Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America (search), said Saturday during an election training conference for activist members. "It will have an impact on us getting out the vote."
Proposals on amendments on gay marriage are expected to be on the ballot in 11 states, including the swing states of Arkansas, Oregon, Michigan and probably Ohio. Those people who say they are likely to vote and who oppose abortion and favor traditional marriage will be heavily recruited by the coalition on Election Day.
The coalition hopes to help re-elect President Bush (search) and add a handful of conservative U.S. senators who will support its agenda. The ultimate goal is loftier: changing the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal judiciary.
The coalition is finishing interviews of lawmakers for its voter guides, which national field coordinator Bill Thomson called the "B-2 bomber" in its arsenal. Combs wasn't ready to say exactly how many coalition voter guides will be printed. The group handed out 70 million in 2000.
Politicians are being asked a number of questions, including whether they support a constitutional amendment that effectively bans gay marriage. Their views on abortion, late-term abortions and measures to protect children from online pornography are being sought as well.
Voter guides don't advise people how to vote but provide opposing candidates' positions on issues important to conservative voters.
A more conservative Senate, backed by a second Bush term, could allow the appointment of two or three conservative justices to the Supreme Court to join Justices William Rehnquist (search), Clarence Thomas (search), Antonin Scalia (search).
"If you asked people in this group their top priority, the first thing they would say is changing the U.S. Supreme Court," said Jim Backlin, a legislative lobbyist for the coalition.
"These people want Roe v. Wade (search) overturned and that authority returned to the states," Backlin said. The case of Roe v. Wade resulted in a landmark ruling in 1973 guaranteeing women the right to abortion.
While many in the Christian Coalition expressed confidence that Bush will win re-election, they're taking nothing for granted. Those supporting Democratic candidate John Kerry (search) are highly motivated, said Spencer Banks, an Atlanta businessman, so it's dangerous to assume Bush will win.
Jody Anderson, a nurse from Fort Worth, Texas, said she's concerned some Christian conservatives may stay home on Election Day because they have been disappointed that Bush hasn't taken a public stand on some conservative issues like the dispute over displaying the Ten Commandments at an Alabama courthouse.
Thomson, a former Marine, used military imagery to fire up the Christian Coalition activists to get out the vote.
"Never allow the enemy to block you," Thomson urged them. "Get around them, run over the top of them, destroy them — whatever you need to do so that God's word is the word that is being practiced in Congress, town halls and state legislatures."