How’d it feel for you to get two new states on our side within the same week? I had a raging case of PMS which made me so emotional about the whole thing I was just stupid. My girlfriend called me to say hi on the morning of the Vermont decision and I answered the phone crying. Add to this that last week I wrote a mushy, lovey-dovey letter to her, and in one of those terrible email snafus we’ve all had, I accidentally forwarded it to my friend Grace Moon. It wasn’t just lovey, it was chock full of those little animated gmail emoticons. I mean the really sappy ones. It was full of all the hearts and flowers and little smileys kissing each other. Ugh. Any reputation I had as being reasonable is shot now. I give up.
The Iowa and Vermont decisions are happy ones, and ultimately not surprising. Vermont was early to allow civil unions and Iowa might be smack dab in the mid-west but the state has a reputation for being fair-minded and taking the constitution very seriously. And it was Barack Obama’s win in Iowa in last year’s election that secured the presidency for him. We like you Iowa. Thanks.
Because precedence is what gets these court cases rolling, and Vermont and Iowa have now set legal precedence, we may actually see a series of States legalizing marriage in rapid succession. Ultimately, you can’t argue with the Constitution, which clearly states that citizens can all expect equal protection under the law. No state Supreme Court has ever ruled marriage unconstitutional, it’s the crazy wing-nut voters that get all high on God and start getting marriage bans on ballots.
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont—you’ve got four whole states you can get married in now. You better hurry if you are eyeing Iowa though, the same kinda crazies that got Prop 8 on the ballot in California and then, to everyone’s dismay, got it passed, are gearing up to get a constitutional ban on gay marriage rolling in Iowa.
The difference, though, between the California Prop 8 debacle and the wing-nuts wanting a ban on the ballot in Iowa, is that getting a constitutional amendment passed is a much more arduous process than it is in California. Because it’s more time consuming and has to be approved by two sessions of the state’s legislature as well as by the voters, Iowans wont be voting on an amendment like Prop 8 for at least three years. And it’s those three years that are going to make all the difference.
Nate Silver, the guy who does all the really interesting predictions over at fivethirtyeight.com came up with a formula based on the religiosity of a state that seems to be a good indication of the state’s propensity to enact a gay marriage ban. You can read all about his method and reasoning on the site http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/04/will-iowans-uphold-gay-marriage.html.
So according to Silver’s calculations, voter initiatives to ban gay marriage are actually losing ground not gaining it the way Prop 8 made it seem. Slowly, slowly, at about two percentage points a year, these bans become less popular and harder to pass.
Taking Silver’s predictions, a blog called The Map Scroll made a map of what the future of gay marriage looks like and what states will be next.
You can look at it here:
As we’ve all suspected, this stuff is largely generational. All the macabre comments about just waiting for the conservative old white guys to keel over might be tacky, but they are true. According to Silver, “In a CBS news poll conducted last month, 64 percent of voters aged 18-45 supported either gay marriage or civil unions, but only 45 percent of voters aged 65 and up did.”
This is similar to polls conducted amongst military personnel about overturning DADT. Servicemen and women who are thirty and younger would be perfectly happy to see the ban lifted. It’s older generations and retirees that still believe allowing gays in the military would harm morale. So as we move through this generation into the next one we will actually see changes happening a lot more rapidly.