New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill that made Same Sex Marriage legal. The passage of this bill makes New York the largest and most populous state in the Union to legalize same-sex marriage. While gay rights activists celebrate their latest and greatest victory, the political ramifications of this decision are vast and reach across the nation.
- There are now 6 states (and Washington D.C) that have made same-sex marriage legal.
- Two states recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but do not allow them to be performed within their borders.
- There are 24 states with constitutional amendments that specifically ban same-sex marriage and eighteen of those ban some, if not all same-sex unions.
- There are 6 states that have a statute that bans same-sex marriage.
- Twelve states ban same-sex marriage, but allow civil unions or have laws that grant same-sex couples specific and limited rights.
So with score now 42 to 7, with active legislation and legal challenges from both sides of the issue being debated and considered from shore to shore, the big question is will same-sex marriage become an issue in the 2012 Presidential Campaign? While the passions are strong on both sides, if one side or the other works this issue into their campaign, it could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
President Obama has been clear (or vague, depending on whom you ask) that he is personally against same-sex marriages, but would not oppose it politically. His position, however, is now ‘evolving’ – meaning that he is either honestly changing his opinion or considering using this issue to secure the Gay vote.
What will be interesting is how the Republican presidential candidates deal with this issue. Defeating an incumbent President, even one as unpopular as President Obama, is always tough, and having ANY position on same-sex marriages could doom a candidate to defeat. When you look at the map of electoral votes, you can easily see why.
Of the 24 states that have constitutionally banned gay marriage, only 4 (Ohio, Virginia, Michigan and Florida) of them were won by President Obama in the 2008 Presidential Election. Those 4 states, and their 77 combined electoral votes, are critical to defeating President Obama in 2012. That fact alone means that no serious Republican presidential candidate will support same-sex marriage – the political risk is far too great.
It also means that it is highly unlikely that President Obama will either. Of the seven states and the district that have legalized same-sex marriage, all seven were won by President Obama in 2008. As for the twelve states that allow civil unions, all twelve were won by President Obama in 2008. If President Obama comes out in support of same-sex marriage, he risks offending voters in four critical battleground states. Florida and Virginia are especially critical, since those states are usually won by Republican candidates. Ohio and Michigan are both up for grabs, but are believed by most to lean democratic – especially considering the popularity of labor unions in those states.
That being said – could taking a stand in support of same-sex marriages actually help President Obama or a Republican candidate? The states to watch are Florida, California, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Iowa. These states do not have constitutional amendments opposing same-sex marriages, and have been won by both Democrats and Republicans in the last few presidential contests. If movements in support of same-sex marriages in any of these states gains significant support, then we could see this become a major issue in the 2012 contest.