When the Iowa Supreme Court legalized gay marriage there four years ago, on April 3, 2009, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com built a simple statistical model that predicted Mississippi would be last to tip, in 2024. How are we doing?
Well, for a start, three of the Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled unanimously were recalled. One has survived a recall, and the remaining three are expected to be challenged. There have been numerous laws and state Constitutional amendments to ban Gay Marriage. Some states, like California and New Jersey, went back and forth with various permutations of court rulings, votes by legislatures, signings and vetoes by Governors (Boo, Chris Christie!), and votes by the public one way or the other. But now there is majority support for gay marriage and marriage equality across the country. However, as William Gibson noted,
The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.There are not enough on the right side to vote down bigotry everywhere, but there are more of us and fewer of them year by year. We are up to nine states with gay marriage, and others with civil unions, and the Prop. 8 and DOMA cases have been argued at the Supreme Court, with California and the Obama administration declining to defend their laws, and filing briefs in opposition. Decisions are expected in June. There is a patchwork of conflicting laws across the country, in constant flux, but now moving mostly in our direction.
There is a narrative from the bigots claiming that they always won up to when we started to win, and that we are only winning by cheating, and that they will start winning again Real Soon Now. There is a narrative from our side that it is only fear-mongering that lets bigots overturn court decisions and legislation through referenda, and that we lost popular votes only until we started winning, and that we will go on winning. Reality is much more complex than that. We are winning, and will win more and more often, but not always and certainly not everywhere until various states have evolved rather more. Fortunately, we can measure approximately how much more is needed, and determine where short-term efforts are most likely to be rewarded.
When people ask me where I'm from, I reply, "All over." I was born in Chicago, grew up in New Jersey, went to college in Connecticut, served in the Peace Corps in South Korea, joined a Buddhist monastery in Japan, and helped to start monasteries in California and the north of England. Now I am retired and living in my wife's home town, Columbus, Indiana. Polls show that Hoosiers oppose doubling down on our law against gay marriage by putting a gay marriage ban into the Constitution, but they do not yet approve of marriage equality. We are evolving, like the creatures who laid down our massive limestone beds.
I also have gay and lesbian friends from all over. One of my friends in Peace Corps came out publicly many years later. We had a high-ranking gay priest in our monastery. My wife's coworkers at the hospital where she worked in California include a gay married couple and a lesbian married couple. I have a lesbian cousin-in-law here in Columbus who is forbidden to marry her partner. My daughter is bi. And so on.
I am moved to Diary this today in part by this post about Iowa from late on Tuesday.
My brain knew something important had just been said—something that was made even more important by the nonchalant manner in which it was phrased, the lack of any particular emphasis on the words.That's what we are looking for. Normality.
It went something like this:"Farmer Roy Jones says that he will be able to wait until April 15 of this year to file his taxes, an extension granted this year by the IRS due to the effects of the sequester.
Farmer Jones and his husband James Jones...."
…probability factor of one to one…we have normality, I repeat we have normality." [Trillian] turned her microphone off — then turned it back on, with a slight smile and continued: "Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem."Douglas Adams, HHGTTG
Here is the prediction from Nate Silver, together with the actuality today, mostly from the Wikipedia articles Same-sex marriage law in the United States by state and U.S. state constitutional amendments banning same-sex unions, with additional information. Silver did not include DC in his analysis. Gay marriage was legalized there in 2010. I omit Puerto Rico and other US territories.
|Vermont||Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples are entitled to the privileges and benefits of marriage, 1999; civil unions, 2000; same-sex marriage bill passed, vetoed, passed over veto, 2009|
|New Hampshire||Gay marriage legalized by statute, 2010.|
|Massachusetts||Legalized by Supreme Court ruling, 2003.|
|Maine||Same-sex marriage signed into law, 2009; repealed by popular vote later in 2009; legal again by popular vote, 2012. [corrected]|
|Rhode Island||Civil unions, 2011|
|Connecticut||Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriage in 2008; act to make marriage law gender-neutral passed and signed in 2009|
|Nevada||Banned by Constitutional amendment, 2000; reaffirmed, 2002; domestic partnership law passed over Governor's veto, 2009.|
|Washington||Domestic partnerships recognized, 2007; gay marriage legalized Feb. 2012, except with provision for a referendum to repeal it; repeal defeated in referendum, Nov. 2012; licenses issued, Dec. 2012|
|Alaska||Court ruling for gay marriage, Feb. 1998; Constitutional ban, Nov. 1998 by popular vote|
|New York||Gov. Elliot Spitzer called for legalization of same-sex marriages, but the bill died in the Senate; a bill passed in 2011, and was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.|
|Oregon||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2004. Domestic partnership law enacted in 2007, delayed by court challenges until 2008.|
|California||Banned, 2000, in Prop. 22 referendum creating statute; overturned by Supreme Court, 2008; Prop. 8 Constitutional amendment ban, Nov. 2008 by popular vote; overturned in Federal court, 2010; arguments before US Supreme Court, March 26, 2013; decision expected in June|
|Hawaii||The Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriage may be unconstitutional, 1996; Constitutional amendment passed by popular vote to allow laws against same-sex marriage, 1998, but it does not forbid civil unions; gay marriage forbidden by statute, 1998, but civil union law enacted, 2011|
|Montana||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2004.|
|New Jersey||Domestic partnerships authorized by Supreme Court, 2006; same-sex marriage law passed in 2012 but vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie. The previous Governor, Jon Corzine, had said that he would sign such a bill.|
|Colorado||First gay marriage, 1975, quickly banned; Constitutional ban 2006; civil unions to start in May 2013|
|Wyoming||Banned by statute, 2003.|
|Delaware||Gay marriage banned by statute, 1996; civil unions allowed since 2012; gay marriage vote expected in the Legislature in 2013, with uncertain prospects|
|Idaho||Banned by Constitutional amendment passed by popular vote, 2006.|
|Arizona||Supreme Court ruled against gay marriage; Constitutional ban defeated, 2006; passed, 2008|
|Wisconsin||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2006; limited domestic partnerships, 2009.|
|Pennsylvania||Banned by statute, 1996.|
|Maryland||Banned by statute all the way back in 1973; same-sex marriage legal as of Jan. 1, 2013.|
|Illinois||Gay marriage banned by statute, 1996; civil unions legalized, 2011. Same-sex marriage legislation has passed the Illinois Senate and is to be voted on in the House.|
|Michigan||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2004.|
|Minnesota||Case brought in 1971 for recognition of same-sex marriage rejected by state courts and US Supreme Court; banned by statute, 1997; constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage rejected in popular vote, 2012.|
|Iowa||Attempts to ban gay marriage by statute failed, leading to court case to declare lack of gay marriage unconstitutional, 2005, ruled unconstitutional by district court, 2007, and by Supreme Court, 2009.|
|Ohio||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2004.|
|Utah||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2004.|
|Florida||Gay marriage and civil unions banned by Constitutional amendment, 2008. Opinion has reversed, and it may be time for repeal|
|New Mexico||Same-sex marriage licenses briefly issued in 2004, but ruled illegal by the Attorney-General. The only state with no legislation either for or against. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two couples to have gay marriage declared legal.|
|North Dakota||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2004.|
|Nebraska||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2000; overturned by Federal district court, but restored by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2006.|
|South Dakota||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2006.|
|Indiana||Gay marriage and civil unions banned by statute, 2004. Attempts at repeal and at adding the ban to the state Constitution are regularly introduced in the Legislature and regularly fail.|
|Virginia||Banned by statute all the way back in 1975; civil unions banned by statute, 2004; banned by constitutional amendment, 2006.|
|West Virginia||Banned by statute, 2000; proposed Constitutional amendment failed to advance to a vote several times.|
|Kansas||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2005; more extensively banned by statute, 2011.|
|Missouri||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2004.|
|Texas||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2005.|
|North Carolina||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2012.|
|Louisiana||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2004. Overturned by district court, 2004, reinstated by Supreme Court, 2005.|
|Georgia||Banned by statute, 1996; banned by Constitutional amendment, 2004;|
|Kentucky||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2004, further restrictions in statute, 1998.|
|South Carolina||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2006.|
|Oklahoma||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2004.|
|Tennessee||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2006.|
|Arkansas||Banned by statute, 1997, then by Constitutional amendment, 2004|
|Alabama||Constitutional ban, 2006, 81% popular vote|
|Mississippi||Banned by constitutional amendment, 2004.|
There is a rich vein of such data that could be mined much further, to the benefit of those planning political campaigns around issues and elections. For example, I have not included state bans on recognizing out-of-state gay marriages, or polling data, or organizations working on gay marriage laws and marriage equality state-by-state. I have not made any correlation between tipping dates for states and dates of Senate elections, which I essayed in an earlier Diary, Second Civil War or Tipping Point?. I was looking at when we could replace Republican and Blue Dog Senators, but it turns out that on some issues some of them actually change their minds, as I discussed recently in My Petition on Gay Marriage to Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
Only seven of 55 Democratic Senators oppose gay marriage now, down from fifteen not so long ago, and even two Republicans have switched sides. We thus have a bare majority, with Vice President Biden to cast the deciding vote. Now if we could get the rest of our seven, plus three more Republicans, we could even get past the filibuster. Or maybe we can do something about the filibuster rules. I am not going to name a date, but the thing is no longer outside the realm of possibility.