Study: Voting for gay marriage not a political liability


by Andy Birkey • A new study (PDF) by Freedom to Marry, a group that advocates same-sex marriage, says that a study of 1,100 election results around the country demonstrates that politicians support for same-sex marriage is not a political liability, despite conventional wisdom. It’s an issue that many Minnesota legislators will confront as a bill to legalize same-sex marriage is debated in the Minnesota Legislature.

Andy Birkey lives in Minneapolis. He is an LGBT community advocate and blogs on politcial, social, and community issues. Read his blog at Eleventh Avenue South

In states that had marriage equality bills offered in their Legislatures (California, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts), 100 percent of those who supported the bills were reelected during the last three elections. That constituted 499 wins for supporters.

Those legislators that opposed constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage (17 states) won their re-election bids, a total of 664 legislators.

The group also studied state legislators who ran for higher office. All of those that supported same-sex marriage won higher office.

And it’s not just Democrats in safe districts voting for a core constituency. The study demonstrates that Republicans who support same-sex marriage also won re-election.

For example, the New York Assembly held a vote in 2007 to legalize same-sex marriage. “Following the Assembly vote on marriage, groups who opposed the marriage equality bill threatened to unseat supportive Republicans, but pro-marriage groups worked to protect all supporters,” the report said. “All those Republicans who voted for the marriage bill won re-election” in 2008.

“For politicians, standing up for marriage equality is not touching a third-rail; rather, it is a track to re-election,” wrote Freedom to Marry Executive Director Evan Wolfson. “Legislators should take the findings of this report as proof that there’s no reason to back down from supporting the freedom to marry and opposing anti-gay measures. And those of us outside the Legislature should not be afraid to ask our representatives to do the right thing.”

Originally published 1/29/09