Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"There are some things the state cannot do to direct the moral content of your life"--Part II

On Saturday, Mr. Torvik posted a video of University of Minnesota Law School Professor Dale Carpenter talking about his book, Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas.  Mr. Torvik used the quote in the title as the title of his post. 

While after Lawrence states cannot criminalize private adult consensual sexual intimacy in the home, one of the things that a state evidently can do to direct the moral content of your life is decide whom you can marry.  Nate Silver, the statistician who runs the incredible FiveThirtyEight blog, has a post about how North Carolinians are likely to pass an amendment to the the North Carolina Constitution to say that marriage “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized.”  Put another way, North Carolina will ban recognition of same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships of any kind.  Mr. Silver notes that, assuming his prediction is correct, North Carolina will join the other former members of the Confederate States of America as those states already have similar language in their respective state constitutions.  Mr. Silver also includes a handy chart showing that fifteen states outside of the South also have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.  So maybe Mr. Silver's reference to the Confederacy was not entirely fair.

In any event, Mr. Silver notes that opposition to same-sex marriage is dwindling rapidly in the United States and national polls indicate that a majority of Americans now support gay marriage.  On the other hand, Mr. Silver's most "accelerated" statistical model (which tries to take into account the speed at which same-sex marriage opposition is declining) shows that more than 60% of the population in nine states opposes gay marriage.  This suggests that supporters of same-sex marriage have a lot of work to do in a large part of the country before citizens in, for example, Mississippi have the same marriage rights as citizens in Iowa.  Of course, depending on how the next round of Iowa elections go, the Iowa/Mississippi comparison might be a bad example.

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