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Pro-Marriage Legislators Win Elections

The politics of marriage for gay couples are changing rapidly, and evidence from the most recent election shows that it is not politically perilous for state legislators to vote in favor of laws allowing committed gay and lesbian couples to marry. Since the 2010 election, both chambers of the state legislatures in New York (June 2011), Washington (February 2012), New Jersey (February 2012), and Maryland (March 2012) have passed laws allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Since those votes, the legislatures of New York and Washington faced reelection in the 2012 elections. In those two states, a total of 196 legislators voted in favor of marriage: 113 in New York and 83 in Washington. Of the 196 legislators who voted to support marriage for committed gay and lesbian couples, only 5 lost their seats in the 2012 election: 4 in New York and 1 in Washington. And only in 3 of those elections is there even a remote possibility that a legislators marriage vote contributed to their loss.

Ninety-seven percent of state legislators who voted for marriage and ran for reelection won.
A staggering 97% of the state legislators from both parties who voted to allow gay couples to marry in their state and ran for reelection in 2012 won their races: 141 legislators were reelected, 50 did not run (either because they were not up for reelection in 2012, or because they retired, resigned, or ran for another public office), and only 5 lost their races. Of those 5 who lost, 2 were under investigation for corruption or misuse of taxpayer dollars, and 3 ran for reelection and lost without being under a cloud of ethics. In these 3 caseswhich represent only 2% of these racesthere were multiple factors contributing to the losses. This 97% reelection rate was significantly higher than the national averageacross the country in 2012, 10% of incumbent state legislators who filed for reelection were defeated.1
2012 Electoral Outcomes for Pro-Marriage Legislators Democrats Did not run for reelection* Ran and won Ran and lost while being investigated for corruption charges Ran and lost without an ethics cloud Republicans Total

43 136 2 1

7 4 0 2

50 (25.5%) 140 (+1 Ind.) = 141 (71.9%) 2 (1%) 3 (1.5%)


*Includes 14 who were not up in 2012

While for Republicans, a vote in support of marriage may still come up in a primary, the evidence shows that it is not determinative to their electoral prospectsin fact, only two of the 13 Republicans who supported marriage lost their seat in a way that could even be partly attributed to their marriage vote. And for Democrats, a vote for marriage appears unlikely to have any negative effect at all, as only 1 out of 139 Democratic lawmakers who voted for marriage and was not under investigation was defeatedless than a 1% rate of loss. Even for Democrats in moderate districts, marriage does not appear to hurt state legislators chances of reelection. For example, New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo represents a particularly moderate district in Queens that had become even more conservative since his last election, when it was redistricted to include much of the Rockaway Peninsula.2 And yet he won reelection in 2012 after voting for marriage just one year earlier. Only one Democrat who voted for marriage and was not under investigation lost her seat in 2012, and still her conservative-leaning district voted for marriage in the state-wide referendum on the issue.

The losses had many factors, and in most, marriage wasnt even among them.
Marriage Not a Factor for Two New York Democratic Losses The two Democratic legislators (Naomi Rivera and Shirley Huntley) who lost their seats in New York were under investigation for corruption or misuse of taxpayer dollarsmaking those troubles the likely cause of their losses, not their vote on marriage. Marriage Not a Likely Cause of Washington Democratic Loss Washington State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen (D) lost her seat in the general election, but on that same day her district voted in favor of marriage in the state-wide referendum, making it unlikely that her vote was the cause of her defeat. Marriage Not a Major Factor in New York Republican General Election Loss New York State Senator Stephan Saland won his primary against a Republican challenger who accused him of betraying traditional family values. He later lost to a Democrat in the general election. While it is plausible that marriage played a small part in Salands general election loss, it was clearly not the main reason for it, since the Democrat who defeated him supported marriage for gay couples as well. Marriage Not the Only Factor in New York Republican Primary Loss Of the four Republican Senators and three Assemblymen who voted for marriage in New York, State Senator Roy McDonald was the only one to lose his seat in a primary challenge. He was also the only one to raise less money than his opponent. Even so, the vote was so close that it could not be called on Election Day and came down to the counting of absentee ballots.

The vast majority of Americans wouldnt punish a policymaker for supporting marriage.
Most Americans consistently say that a lawmakers position on marriage would not affect whether they vote for that person. For example, in a 2011 national poll by Grove Insight for Third Way, a plurality (45%) said that a candidates view on marriage for gay couples would make no difference in their vote.3 An immediate post-election poll in Washington State in November 2012 echoed that conclusion: 44% said that President Obamas marriage support had no effect on their vote, and the numbers were similar for state legislators40% said the issue made no difference.4 But when the sample was narrowed to moderate voterswho nearly always decide electionsthe numbers looked even better for marriage. A full 30% of moderates said they were more likely to vote for the President because he supported marriage for gay couples, while only 12% said that issue made them less likely to pull the lever to reelect him. Fifty-eight percent of moderates said it made no difference. These numbers were nearly identical for state legislators. A full 30% of moderate voters said they were more prone to vote for a state legislator who supported marriage, while only 14% said they were less prone to do so, and 56% said the issue made no difference in their vote.

Conclusion
The politics of marriage for gay couples is changing rapidly, and support for marriage is growing every day. For example, between 2004 and 2011, support increased 16 points, with big shifts across every demographic group and region of the country.5 In fact, during that time period, moderates shifted faster than any other groupgaining 21 points in support for marriageand the number of conservatives who supported marriage doubled over that timeframe. While a quarter of this shift has come from younger people who are more accepting aging into the population, 75% of the movement is due to Americans changing their minds on the issue and deciding to support the freedom to marry.6 Today, Americans in 9 states and the District of Columbia have the ability to marry the person they love, and many were granted that freedom by their state legislatures or by a direct vote of the people. Supporting marriage for gay couples should no longer be considered a political risk for Democratseven those in moderate districts. In fact, all but 1 of the 139 Democrats who ran without being under an ethics investigation won re-election. For Republicans, the issue may still play a small role in primary campaigns, but at least 85% of Republican legislators who voted for marriage since the 2010 election did not lose their seat because of it. By the 2014 election, we expect marriage votes to have an even more negligible effect than they had in 2012.

APPENDIX: Election Results for Pro-Marriage Legislators


New York Senate Adams Addabbo Avella Breslin Carlucci Dilan Duane Espaillat Gianaris Hassell-Thompson Huntley Kennedy Klein Krueger Kruger Montgomery Oppenheimer Parker Peralta Perkins Rivera Sampson Savino Serrano Smith Squadron Stavisky Valesky Stewart-Cousins Alesi Saland McDonald Grisanti Party Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Republican Republican Republican Republican Status Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Retired Reelected Reelected Reelected Lost Reelected Reelected Reelected Resigned Reelected Retired Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Retired Lost Lost Reelected 4

New York Assembly Abinanti Arroyo Aubry Benedetto Bing Boyland Braunstein Brennan Bronson Brook-Krasny Cahill Camara Canestrari Castro Cook Cusick DenDekker Dinowitz Englebright Farrell Galef Glick Gottfried Gunther Heastie Hevesi Hoyt Jacobs Jaffee Jeffries Kavanagh Kellner Lancman Latimer

Party Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat

Status Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Resigned Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Retired Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Resigned Reelected Reelected Retired Reelected Reelected Retired Retired

Lavine Lentol Lifton Linares Lopez, VJ Lupardo Magnarelli Maisel McEneny Meng Millman Morelle Moya Nolan O'Donnell Ortiz Paulin Peoples-Stokes Perry Pretlow Ramos Reilly Rivera, Jose Rivera, Naomi Rivera, Peter Roberts Rodriguez Rosenthal Russell Schimel Schroeder Simotas Spano Sweeney Titone

Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat

Reelected Reelected Reelected Retired Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Retired Retired Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Retired Reelected Lost Resigned Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Resigned Reelected Resigned Reelected Reelected

Titus Weinstein Weisenberg Weprin Wright Zebrowski Silver Sayward Miller, Joel Duprey Thiele Washington Senate Brown Chase Conway Eide Fraser Frockt Harper Hatfield Haugen Hobbs Kastama Keiser Kilmer Kline Kohl-Welles McAuliffe Murray Nelson Prentice Pridemore Ranker Regala Rolfes

Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Republican Republican Republican Independent Party Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat

Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Resigned Resigned Reelected Reelected Status Not up in 2012 Not up in 2012 Not up in 2012 Not up in 2012 Reelected Reelected Not up in 2012 Reelected Lost Not up in 2012 Retired Not up in 2012 Retired Not up in 2012 Not up in 2012 Reelected Not up in 2012 Not up in 2012 Retired Retired Reelected Retired Reelected

Tom Fain Litzow Pflug Hill Washington House Appleton Billig Blake Carlyle Clibborn Cody Darneille Dickerson Dunshee Eddy Finn Fitzgibbon Goodman Green Haigh Hansen Hasegawa Hudgins Hunt Hunter Jinkins Kagi Kelley Kenney Ladenburg Liias Lytton Maxwell McCoy

Democrat Republican Republican Republican Republican Party Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat

Not up in 2012 Not up in 2012 Reelected Retired Not up in 2012 Status Reelected Retired Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Retired Retired Reelected Retired Retired Relected Relected Relected Relected Relected Retired Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Retired Retired Retired Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected

Moeller Morris Moscoso Ormsby Orwall Pedersen Pettigrew Pollet Probst Reykdal Roberts Ryu Santos Seaquist Sells Springer Stanford Sullivan Takko Tharinger Upthegrove Van De Wege Wylie Chopp Anderson Walsh

Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Democrat Republican Republican

Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Retired Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Reelected Retired Reelected

ENDNOTES
4783 state legislator incumbents filed for reelection in 2012, and 491 were defeated (197 in primaries and 294 in the general election). Incumbents defeated in 2012s state legislative elections, Ballotpedia, December 13, 2012. Accessed February 26, 2012. Available at: http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Incumbents_defeated_in_2012's_state_legislative_elections.
2 Thomas Kaplan, State Senate Races Tighter After The Storm, The New York Times, November 4, 2012. Accessed February 25, 2013. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/05/nyregion/new-yorkstate-senate-races-tighter-after-storm.html. 3 1

National poll by Grove Insight for Third Way, July 12-17, 2011, 1000 likely voters.

4 Lanae Erickson Hatalsky and Sarah Trumble, How Marriage Won in Washington State, Report, Third Way, December 2012, pp. 3-4. Accessed February 25, 2013. Available at: http://www.thirdway.org/subjects/130/publications/623.

Gregory B. Lewis and Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, The Big Shift: Changing Views on Marriage for Gay Couples, Report, Third Way, October 2012, pp. 1-2. Accessed February 25, 2013. Available at: http://www.thirdway.org/subjects/11/publications/600.
6

Ibid.

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