We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Fascinating Map

Source: pewforum.org
An interactive map entitled, "State Policies on Same-Sex Marriage Over Time," at pewforum.org demonstrates the significant and rapid changes taking place in the U.S. regarding same-sex marriage.  If one scales through the years from 1995 to 2013, several trends become apparent.  In 1995, the great majority of states are colored with a neutral white meaning they are "states where gay marriage is neither legal nor banned."  By 2013, only New Mexico remains white.

In 1996, the move toward statutory restrictions on gay marriage showed a strong upward trend, which continued in 1997 and 1998.  Meanwhile, in 1998, states began to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage with Alaska leading the way.  That movement picked up steam in 2004, apparently in reaction to the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts, which was approved in 2003.  In 2005 and 2006, more and more states put bans on same-sex marriage in their state constitutions.  Then, in 2008 Connecticut joined Massachusetts as a green state ("states where gay marriage is or soon will be legal").    The strong movement toward gay marriage began in 2011, and the last two years have shown more and more green states.

The map for 2013 is notable for the deep divide it shows in the nation.  The Northeast is green.  Vast stretches of the rest of the country are yellow-brown ("states with constitutional bans on gay marriage").  A few states still have statutory bans on gay marriage and as noted above only New Mexico has not taken a stand one way or the other, but evidently some local governments in New Mexico are taking matters into their own hands (see here) by issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.  So far, California is the only state that had a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which has since legalized such marriages.

In sum, this map provides graphic evidence of the deep divisions in our nation over same-sex marriage and demonstrates that both proponents and opponents have so far had their share of victories.  Given the evident difficulty of flipping states with constitutional bans on gay marriage, however, one has to wonder whether the state-by-state campaign for equality under the law has gone about as far as it can.