Iowa, Vermont, and the future

We all know that progress is often slower than we would like, and is rarely without setbacks; the path toward recognition of same-sex marriage is no different. Some bigots in Iowa are planning to institute an anti-marriage constitutional amendment to override their Supreme Court's approval of same-sex marriage--and the Prop H8 battle in California is still ongoing. Vermont's governor vetoed a same-sex marriage bill yesterday, but it was overridden by the state Senate and House this morning:

Moments ago, the Vermont House voted 100-49 to override the marriage bill veto! The House vote, which followed the Senate voting 23-5 this morning to override Gov. Douglas's veto, means that Vermont becomes the first state to OK marriage equality through the legislative process.

Today Vermont joins Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa in allowing gay and lesbian couple to legally marry.

In another encouraging sign, Nate Silver posted an analysis at 538 last week:

I looked at the 30 instances in which a state has attempted to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage by voter initiative. [...] It turns out that you can build a very effective model by including just three variables:

1. The year in which the amendment was voted upon;
2. The percentage of adults in 2008 Gallup tracking surveys who said that religion was an important part of their daily lives;
3. The percentage of white evangelicals in the state.

These variables collectively account for about three-quarters of the variance in the performance of marriage bans in different states.

So, what does his analysis ("Marriage bans...are losing ground at a rate of slightly less than 2 points per year.") tell us?

The model predicts that by 2012, almost half of the 50 states would vote against a marriage ban, including several states that had previously voted to ban it. In fact, voters in Oregon, Nevada and Alaska (which Sarah Palin aside, is far more libertarian than culturally conservative) might already have second thoughts about the marriage bans that they'd previously passed.

By 2016, only a handful of states in the Deep South would vote to ban gay marriage, with Mississippi being the last one to come around in 2024.



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538 was a great source for electoral information last year, and I’m glad to see all that talent still being put to good use. I’m concerned that the backlash will intensify as the bigots get more desperate, but Vermont has shown that marriage equality can be accomplished through legislative as well as judicial means…another sign of progress.

Silver's analysis is fascinating. I had no idea that progress on gay marriage might be made so quickly in such a large number of states. Thanks for referencing that analysis!

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