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The Democrats will convene in Boston late this month to officially pronounce John Kerry their man-who-would-be-president. The party’s national convention is sure to spotlight not just the senator from Massachusetts, but the politics of his home state and perhaps the wider “liberal” Northeast. In 1988, the first President Bush waged a winning rhetorical campaign against his Democratic rival, “the Massachusetts liberal,” then-governor Michael Dukakis. In those days, Republicans were fond of branding Massachusetts as “Taxachusetts.” This year, partisans of the second President Bush may favor the taunt that the Bay State, which recently legalized same-sex marriage, should now be called “the Gay State.”

These are anxious times for defenders of traditional family norms, and Massachusetts is serving as a national magnet for profamily angst. During the ill-fated struggle to keep marriage licenses out of homosexual hands, a cavalry of family-values advocates, hailing from organizations with constituencies chiefly in the South, camped out in Boston and demonstrated at the statehouse. Many will return for the July 26-29 Democratic National Convention, undoubtedly hoping to highlight the contrast between Kerry and George W. Bush, between the (divorced) liberal from a presumably antifamily state and the Texas champion of time-honored values.

There is at least one thing askew in this picture. By arguably the leading...

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About the Author

William Bole is a journalist and co-author, with Bob Abernethy, of The Life of Meaning: Reflections on Faith, Doubt, and Repairing the World.