The Washington Post

Legalizing same sex marriage is still a blue state thing

A federal judge on Tuesday  struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same sex marriage, making it the 19th state in which gay people are now free to marry. What do those 19 states (plus the District of Columbia) have in common?  Every one of them went for President Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 elections.

For all of the momentum that efforts to legalize same sex marriage have -- nine states have overturned bans since the Supreme Court gave federal recognition to same sex couples last June -- the states in which those efforts have succeeded remain, almost exclusively, Democratic strongholds.  With the exceptions of Iowa and New Hampshire -- and, maybe, Pennsylvania -- none of the remaining 16 (or 17) states where gay marriage is legal are even marginally competitive at the presidential level.

Here's our awesome map on the status of gay marriage across the country.

And here's the 2012 election results.

What's clear from looking at the two maps is that the true tipping point on gay marriage legalization is in Republican strongholds like Texas, Utah, Idaho and Oklahoma where bans have been ruled unconstitutional but an appeals process is underway.

We might not have to wait all that long to see whether the momentum in blue states will extend to areas less friendly toward Democrats. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on Utah's law in April and a ruling is expected some time in the near future. That same court heard arguments on the Oklahoma case in December 2013. In Arkansas on Friday, the state Supreme Court stayed a lower court decision that overturned the state's ban on gay marriage.

Now, it's important to separate the ongoing legal wrangling over gay marriage from the political fight on the issue, which, as we have written before, is effectively over.  Support for gay marriage continues to reach historical highs -- as it did in new Gallup polling released Wednesday.

Public opinion is moving rapidly on the issue. The legal process moves slower but the key lies not in the blue states that have legalized it to date but in the red states that might follow suit soon.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Making family dinnertime happen
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
Play Videos
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Learn to make this twice-baked cookie
How to prevent 'e-barrassment'
Play Videos
Syrian refugee: 'I’m committed to the power of music'
The art of tortilla-making
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Circus nuns: These sisters are no act
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
Cool off with sno-balls, a New Orleans treat
Next Story
Sean Sullivan · May 21, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.