Suburban Romney voters supported marriage equality
November 30th, 2012
Walter Olson of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute took a look at the voting results from this month and found something interesting: marriage equality passed in three states – and a ban was defeated in one – in part due to suburban Romney voters.
The Maryland ballot referendum, Question 6, essentially asked voters to confirm or reject a new law allowing same-sex marriage. In 11 of the 18 counties that Mitt Romney carried, Question 6 fared better than President Obama, a sign that GOP voters had crossed over in support. While the phenomenon could be seen everywhere from farm towns to blue-collar inner suburbs, the biggest swings tended to come in affluent bedroom communities. At one precinct in Hunt Valley, north of Baltimore, with 2,116 votes cast, there was a 28 percentage-point swing, leading to a landslide for Romney and the ballot question: Obama drew a paltry 37 percent, but Question 6 carried the precinct with a whopping 65 percent.
And it wasn’t just an odd quirk. Consistently, in all four states, a significant number of suburban Republicans went to the polls and voted for Mitt Romney and marriage equality.
This isn’t to say that Republicans supported marriage equality as a whole or that Democrats did not. Rather, it says that enough Republicans in suburban counties went against their party – exit polls suggested 20 to 25 percent – to make up for those rural conservative Democrats who voted to oppose our marriage rights.
It turns out that in 2012, demographics drove the marriage vote in significant ways. While party registration and presidential selection may have influenced most personal votes, the culture of the community voters live in had tremendous impact on Republicans (and to some extent Democrats).
One quick way to look for towns where Republicans were especially likely to approve same-sex marriage is to consult the state-by-state Yahoo.com “Best Places to Live” series, which highlights communities with high incomes, high education levels and low rates of property crime. The list of “Best Places to Live in Minnesota” is dominated by outlying Twin Cities suburbs, most of which tilt strongly GOP: Sixteen of the 20 supported Romney — six of them by 60 percent or more. But only one town among the 20 voted to ban same-sex marriage, and by an anemic 50.28 percent (had nine voters there switched sides, the outcome would have been different).
This sort of information is valuable in that causes us to nuance our thinking and opens possibilities that we might have been otherwise quick to dismiss.
Cato Institute’s Levy calls for marriage freedom
January 7th, 2010
The Cato Institute is a pro-free market, libertarian think tank which seeks to “increase the understanding of public policies based on the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace.” Today the New York Daily News ran an opinion piece by Robert Levy, Cato’s chairman. He sees the unconstitutional restriction on gay couples to be the consequence of politicians inserting themselves into our lives and controlling what has historically been a private contract.
For most of Western history, marriage was a matter of private contract between the betrothed parties and perhaps their families. Following that tradition, marriage today should be a private arrangement, requiring minimal or no state intervention. Some religious or secular institutions would recognize gay marriages; others would not; still others would call them domestic partnerships or assign another label. Join whichever group you wish. The rights and responsibilities of partners would be governed by personally tailored contracts – consensual bargains like those that control most other interactions in a free society.
Yet our politicians, unwilling to privatize marriage, seem congenitally unable to extricate themselves from our most intimate relationships. One would hope, in the coming months and years, that more enlightened federal and state legislators will have the courage and decency to resist morally abhorrent and constitutionally suspect restrictions based on sexual orientation. Gay couples are entitled to the same legal rights and the same respect and dignity accorded to all Americans.
Oh how I wish that “libertarian minded” legislators would act in accordance with their claimed principles.