As more legislatures back marriage equality, support has political risks for Republican lawmakers
As more state legislatures around the country consider whether to legalize same-sex weddings, an analysis of gay marriage votes in eight states shows that Republican lawmakers who backed it often faced consequences — including loss of their seats. According to roll call votes analyzed by The Associated Press, in the eight times nationwide that state legislatures voted for gay marriage, just 47 Republicans bucked the party line out of many hundreds who voted against it. A vote to allow gay marriage in Minnesota has recently grown more likely in its Legislature, and could come as early as this spring. In Illinois, the state Senate voted 34-21 on Thursday to legalize gay marriage, sending the measure on to the state House. In Rhode Island, a gay marriage bill passed last month by the House awaits a Senate vote. Similar pushes could surface soon in Delaware, Hawaii and New Jersey. In Minnesota, majority Democrats don’t necessarily need Republican votes to pass gay marriage. But a bipartisan effort would improve its chances, because some Democrats from rural areas are nervous about how a vote for gay marriage might be received by their socially conservative constituents. Democratic leaders are also leery of a party-line vote for gay marriage, after years of accusing Republicans of fixating on social issues at the expense of the state’s economy.