The Big Mo, By the Numbers

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2014

EqualityChartB2014.07.28As I pointed out in today’s Daily Agenda, today marks the date in which Illinois formally rescinded its anti-Sodomy law in 1961. I included a version of the above chart in that post. But where the original chart also showed the percentage of the population living in states offering civil unions, I decided that the more interesting development now is the dizzying number of court cases that have struck down marriage bans in fourteen states and two appeals circuits.

So this brought out the geek in me, which resulted in the updated version you see here. And as you can see, it took 41 years from 1961 when time Illinois eliminated its anti-sodomy statute before 70% of the U.S. population was free of those archaic laws. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court freed the remaining 30% with Lawrence v. Texas.

In 2004, marriage equality arrived in Massachusetts, making the freedom to marry available to 2.2% of the U.S. Population. In just twelve years, that figure has risen to 44%. Another 31% now live in states where state and federal courts have struck down marriage bans. Those decision are on hold pending further appeals, but also it means that in about a quarter of the time that it took to get rid of criminal penalties against gay and lesbian relationships, three-quarters of the U.S. population now live in states which either provide marriage equality or are on the cusp of doing so.

And with the three recent Appeals Court decisions, two in the Tenth and today’s in the Fourth, there are now five more states — Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming — where those decisions are now established precedent for cases working their way through the courts in those states. That’s another 6% of the U.S. population. And as BTB commenter Matt pointed out, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) has announced that it would be “futile” to try to continue opposing similar lawsuits in his state, and so he’s not even going to try to do so.

That leaves only 19% of the U.S. population untouched by the fast-paced expansion of what is quickly becoming a universal recognition of the fundamental right to marry. Can you feel the exitement?

Ben in oakland

July 28th, 2014

I can feel not so much the excitement, but the breeze generated by so many closet doors swinging open. That has ALWAYS been the issue. That’s the real intent behind the antigay laws in Russia and Uganda. Slam those doors shut.


July 28th, 2014

The pale blue segment at the top of the 2014 bar represents what? Today’s decisions?


July 29th, 2014

The NC AG may have thrown in the towel, but the Governor and Legislature can still step in. If any BTB readers in NC would like to speak up (or if any readers know people in NC who support equality), here is a link to an EqualityNC petition asking the Governor and Legislature to stay out of it:


July 29th, 2014

@Ron: I think the pale blue segment at the top of 2014 bar represents KS, SC, NC, WV, and WY, the states under Circuit Courts of Appeal that threw out neighboring states’ bans. The second to last graf mentions these states have 6% of the population, which corresponds to that bar, and gets us up to 81%. These states are basically dead trees that haven’t fallen yet.

enough already

July 30th, 2014

Let’s not count our chicks before they’re hatched.
There is no evidence, not even a scintilla of such, that Justice Kennedy will support us.
Nor is there even the slightest shadow of a doubt that the Republicans will add the Senate to the House this fall – gays and young women don’t bother voting in mid-terms because ‘they’re all the same’.
Should we lose in 2016, very likely, actually, then they will have the Presidency, Senate and House.
And there is simply no way the Supreme Court is going to continue with the current line-up another six years. It’s simply out of the question.
The elections this fall are probably more important than any mid-term elections in decades. Pity too many of us queers and the young women who are under attack by the small ‘o’ orthodox Christians haven’t grasped that.

Mark F.

August 1st, 2014

The worst case scenario is that we may have to continue fighting battles state by state for a long time without any help from SCOTUS.

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