Saturday, December 21, 2013

...and Utah makes 18

Yesterday's ruling by Federal Judge Shelby overturning Utah's state constitutional ban limiting marriage to opposite sex couples opened the door to legal same sex marriages in Utah.  The District of Columbia and the other 16 states with legal same sex marriage vote consistently Democratic, but Utah is the first "Red State" to legalize same sex marriage.  Utah is not only a Republican stronghold but also the reddest of the red states with the highest percentage of voters voting Republican in Presidential elections recently.

The Utah ruling is also the first use the US Supreme Court's decision in the Windsor case.  Windsor is the decision which found the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.  Judge Shelby's decision borrows heavily not only from the main Windsor decision but also conservative Justice Scalia's dissent. Scalia's dissent predicted that opening up Federal benefits nationally to married couples would spell the end of the state mini-DOMAs.

Let's look at the growing divide regionally on the issue of same sex marriage:

Percentage of States Where Same Sex Marriages Are Legal at the State Level
New England (MA, VT, NH, CT, RI, and ME):  100%
Mid-Atlantic (DC, MD, DE, NJ, PA, and NY):  83%
Midwest (IA, MN, IL, WI, MI, IN, OH):  43%
West (NM, CO, WY, MT, ID, UT, AZ, CA, HI, AK, OR, and WA):  39%


South (former Confederate states of TX, LA, AR, TN, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, and MS):  0%
Plains states (OK, KS, NE, SD, and ND):  0%
Border states (MO, KY, WV):  0%

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