The Equation That Will Determine When Enough Old Mainers Will Die to OK Marriage

algebra equation on blackboard 1

Does one of you possess Nate Silver levels of math wizardry? Because we’d like to employ you in this little equation about when enough of Maine’s older voters, who disproportionately voted Yes On 1, will stop casting ballots (read: die) and let freedom ring.

Google software engineer and blogger Frank Pape breaks down all the necessary information to compute the question, which hinges on old people being more conservative, and young people being more accepting of the Gs. From birth and death rates to demographic breakdowns of who voted which way on Question 1, Pape wants to know what year it will be when everything evens out enough that a ballot measure to restore marriage will work out.

Can someone please crunch the numbers?

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  • Stitch

    Yeah, I forgot. When faced with opposition, the best course of action is to sink to their level and get personal. That’ll encourage the slightly younger voters (who will be old soon) to totally come around and vote for us in droves. Or something.

  • scott ny'er

    so what do you suggest?

    it’s the truth. you really can’t turn the opinions of the dogmatic and they are the voting masses. until they die, they rule how certain things will be decided like marriage for homos.

    the young ‘uns already are exposed to homos, etc thru outlets like mtv, etc. Thus they do not fear what is already a known quantity to them.

  • Aaron


    Arrgh…got it. *Wipes forehead* Hope you feel better now Stitch cuz I just pulled the stick outta your ass.
    It’s Friday. This is clearly a humorous post. Lighten up.

  • Andrew

    The alternative is to get the younger voters to actually come out and vote. The Churches got their people to the polls – we didn’t. We need to figure out how to do that.

  • terrwill

    You want to be enlightened read the posts by POPNSNAP, he is a poster on this site who is in his teens. This kid posts some of the most intelligent posts on these threads. Kids his age being Gay is no big freaking deal. They are constantly exposed to the Gays by the likes of MTV, which despite the low ratings by GLADD is one of the most positive channels for gay positive and inclusive programming. What we need to do is simpley get measures passed like in Washington. Screw the rightwing-nutbag zealots and the word “marriage”. Let them have it. I have never attended a cookie cutter marriage in a church or temple that can come anywhere close to the love, emotions, and joy of a commitment ceremony a Gay couple creates and joins. Basically we need. POPNSNAP argues and I totally agree that we simply have to wait for the old geezers to fuck off and die (literally).

    Some will claim that we are being put into a “separate” catagory. Separate but equal is fine with me. If we have the exact same equal rights and benefits of marriage, I want to be separate from these hate spewing rightwing-nutbag zealots……..

  • tammy

    lessee. so. 30% of the eligible population voted on tuesday. what you have written implies that most of the population of Maine is white-headed. is this true? if 100% of the eligible voters had voted, would those demographics this still support your theory that most of the population are elderly?

    perhaps the problem lies with the fact that the 70% who couldn’t be arsed enough to vote should get those arses off the couch–for i’d lay bets that if they didn’t vote, they also aren’t likely to be vehemently against same-sex marriage.

  • Stitch

    The actual alternative is to stop agreeing with the premise that our rights qualify for a beauty contest. As long as we continue to operate under the rules set for us by those who despise us, we won’t ever be equal.

    What would the result have been if the National Organization for Men had put women’s voting rights up for a “people’s veto” in 1921? We’re the idiots for playing the game. Demand equality and use civil, passive nonviolent disobedience until we get it. Period. That’s how it works. Asking people who hate us to listen to a shrill campaign for a year and then vote on it after their pastor has railed against us from the pulpit for 52 straight sundays isn’t a recipe for success.

    Oh, and my bad for having the stick up my ass. I guess I’m just passionate about my rights, no matter what day of the week it happens to be.

  • terrwill

    STITCH: Its ok to have s stick up your ass, we have had many of them inserted recently. But if you read my post above, I am sorry on this one we really have to wait until the geezers die. The problem comes down to this. While we agree that our struggle is exact same as the fights for womens and blacks rights. Our issue is that if you look at a woman or a black person (usually) there is no debate that they were born that way and can’t wish away their vaginas or meletonin. Too many of these rightwing-nutbag zealots think we choose to be Gay. I have gone back and forth on this issue for a long time and came to the conclusion that if we can get equal rights, we should grab them. It is much easier to get equal rights, rather than fight a bitter battle for the stupid word “marriage”…….

  • Stitch

    The word “marriage” isn’t stupid. It’s a cultural institution as much as a religious one. When you take your sick partner to the hospital, it’s much more likely that you’ll be treated equally as far as visitation and medical confidentiality goes if you are taking about your “husband” vs. “your civily union-ed domestic parter person man.” In addition to the legal protections that come with marriage, there are cultural implications. If I ask the doctor for an update on my husband, he’s going to be more likely to give it to me than if I ask for an update on my boyfriend or lover or partner or whatever. It’s happened in cases in Florida, Washington, and elswhere. When you create a seperate class of people, they are assumed to be less than equal and will continue to experience discrimination even if it is legally disallowed.

    Try telling your straight, married friends that the word marriage is stupid. It opens doors for them when purchasing houses and other property, filing taxes, seeking to adopt, dealing with social security and employer benefits, and more.

    Trying to legislate all of those benefits into existence in a seperate institution created for gay people who have been deemed unfit to participate in the CIVIL institution that already grants them is ludicrous. People who aren’t fighting for marriage are cutting moral corners to achieve something that looks like equality but can never be, by definition.

  • Sam

    @Tammy: Where did you get the 30% turnout figure? The Bangor Daily News reported 60% turnout.

  • Sam

    Time helps us in two ways. The obvious way is mentioned above: teenagers who vastly favor same-sex marriage will become old enough to vote. But it helps in another way too. As voters get older, they tend to vote more regularly, so as today’s 20-somethings (who are also on our side) become 30-somethings, more of them will vote, which will also help us.

    It’s why I only get 80% depressed about our losses. The other 20% knows that winning is inevitable. We’re just battling over when.

  • Stitch

    Certainly time is going to bring about an electorate that favors us increasingly. I just get so frustrated that equality measures are voted on in the first place. We need a Federal decision. We already have a situation now where a couple can be married in one state, travel through a state where they aren’t, and arrive in a third state where they are again. What happens if they get in a car accident in state #2? State-by-state is an unsustainable system, and it seems to be the only one anyone is willing to fight for.

  • NoDoubleStandards

    I am now firmly in favor of death panels.

  • B

    Stitch wrote, “Yeah, I forgot. When faced with opposition, the best course of action is to sink to their level and get personal.”

    How is it getting personal? The math problem is simply based on demographics including birth and death rates. It’s pretty easy to do. In a few years, the vote will go the other way.

    So, what the opposition is doing is to try to get this stuff passed now, picking states where they think they are likely to win, so they can claim a track record (and claim ‘the will of the voters’) and because it takes some time and effort to get something repealed. They are just trying to delay the inevitable.

  • terrwill

    STITCH: Sorry but whether you say to the Doctor, banker or whoever that you refering to your “husband” or “partner” their reaction will be the same. Either no biggie or “ewwwwww” If we have legislation mandating equal rights and benefits the ones who respond “ewwww” simply have to do as the law states. And to those who are so virulantly anti-Gay marrriage, you will have a better chance of having less resistance if you do refer to someone as “partner” rather than “husband” . Sometimes you need to take emotion out of the equasion and seek the path of least resistance to achieve your goals. If there is a segment who feels they can not have a happy union without the moniker “marriage” let us get the laws passed giving us the exact same rights and benefits as straights and then a few years down the line when the lunatics see that civilization has not imploded as a result of the Gays getting together we can revisit it………….

  • Sam

    @Stich: State-by-state is how the civil rights struggle was won. It wasn’t until at least 20 states had passed something (e.g. interracial marriage, integrated schools, etc.) that they tried to pass it on the federal level.

    I hope the long-shot Perry v. Schwarzenegger wins, but I fear it won’t. So we’ve got to keep working state-by-state in the meantime, until we get that crucial 20-or-so states that will be the tipping point.

    It seems like it’s about to work with ENDA. In 1982, Wisconsin passed the first nondiscrimination law. We went state-by-state until now, nearly 28 years later, we’ve got 21 states with nondiscrimination laws and are on the cusp of a federal law. I believe marriage will come much quicker than that, but state-by-state is proven. Perry, at this point, is a gamble.

  • Stitch

    @ Terrwill: “Sorry but whether you say to the Doctor, banker or whoever that you refering to your “husband” or “partner” their reaction will be the same.”

    Their viceral gut feeling about you might be the same, but their treatment of you will differ widely. The social norms we associate with marriage will kick in, and on a psychological level at least, a person is less likely to discriminate against someone publicly if they have been publicly equated under the law. Many people still privately hold prejudices against all minorities, but the incidence of racial prejudice is down from where it was in say 1964.

    I don’t really care how these people privately feel about me.

    As for appeasing the “virulent” equality opponents, I’m against it on principle.

  • Stitch

    @ Sam: “State-by-state is how the civil rights struggle was won.”

    I would argue that it works sometimes, and not others. MLK didn’t take his show on the road and qush for equality in California, hoping it would spread. He worked in the very communities where prejudice was greatest, and in those that were more sympathetic to his cause.

    Perhaps it worked with EDNA. I’m just saying that I personally don’t feel it is working for marriage and the rights associated with it, and it’s a false pathway to begin with because it legitimizes the position that civil rights are to be determined by 50% +1 of the voters.

  • Sam

    @Stitch: “it’s a false pathway to begin with because it legitimizes the position that civil rights are to be determined by 50% +1 of the voters.”

    As far as I know, no LGBT group has tried to get our rights through the ballot box (except maybe Courage Campaign now, but they’ve been doing this work for all of ten minutes). It is our OPPONENTS who go to the voters to reverse our victories. We do state-by-state through the courts and legislatures.

    “MLK didn’t take his show on the road and qush for equality in California, hoping it would spread.”

    MLK didn’t, but the civil rights movement did. In fact, California was the first state they went to when repealing anti-miscegenation laws, and got it repealed in 1948. It took nineteen years from that point until Loving v. Virginia, and they went state-by-state in the meantime, repealing laws in progressive legislatures until they had the momentum to win at the Supreme Court.

    It’s only been five years since the first state passed same-sex marriage and already we have five states on board. If that seems like it’s “not working,” it might be that your expectations for how fast change happens are a little high.

    (And yes, I know a bunch of states repealed their anti-miscegenation laws during Reconstruction, but that was the work of abolitionists, not the civil rights movement.)

  • There is one problem )=

    As one ages one turns more conservative or moderate
    I was once a liberal … I’m more conservative now

    Here’s what I suggest to make both sides happy

    Make civil unions the primary for heterosexuals AND homosexuals alike and marriage a secondary valid institituion with the requirement that it must be between a man and a woman

    It’s so sad how both sides are doing

    I used to be for gay marriage but will all of the fiasco on the last years it’s gotten too dramatic

    Just let’s make marriage a private second institution
    Civil unions primary for heterosexuals and homosexuals alike

    I think that’s the best option
    A lot of gays and conservatives I’ve dialogued with liked that idea

    Hopefully everybody’s happy

  • Ken S

    Stitch– acknowledging that the bulk of opposition to equality comes from “older voters” and then starting to count the seconds until they’re naturally phased out of the equation doesn’t constitute “sinking to their level.” “Their level” would be launching or supporting a concerted attack on their human rights– of which ‘immortality’ is not one.

    Looking forward to the day your adversary naturally dies of old age is a far fuckin’ cry from legislating bigotry against them into your constitution. And shrilling “that’s just as bad!” every time an oppressed person says “damn but I hate that motherfucker” about their oppressor makes you an apologist. You sound like you’ve got Stockholm Syndrome. Stop being such a battered wife.

    Bullies who initiate aggression towards others aren’t entitled to the sympathy and good will of their victims; in this case the regressive dinosaurs standing in equality’s way are *lucky* that a bunch of furious homos haven’t taken up arms and started proactively reducing the opposition’s numbers. There was a time when people who were being treated unjustly were much less squeamish about literally fighting for their emancipation. Unfortunately, civilizing ourselves mostly seems to have advantaged the old guard who are stuck in their bigoted ways; democracy pacified everyone with promises of representation, but snuck into fine print was a proviso that the represented majority didn’t actually have to be right, or just, or fair– as long as it was numerically bigger it could legitimize any iniquity. But there *was* a time… plenty of other past rebellions against tyrannical “legitimate authorities” have been vindicated by history, maybe it’s time for another one. There ought to be a new Sacred Band. As they say, an army of lovers cannot fail.

  • naghanenu

    Well this is totally idiotic…im 21 and i can tell you that while i support gays on a lot of issues im hesitating on the marriage thing.

    Many people seem to have the erroneous view that traditional marriage is held by only the old folks..because all the voters in Maine where old…thats delusional.

    Just as many young people oppose gay marriage as support it. Get the facts and stop this silliness.

    Fight this at a federal level.

  • Stitch

    Well, while we all have something unique to say about the subject, and certainly we don’t all agree, I have to say that this is the most cerebral comment string I’ve yet seen on Queerty. It’s a far cry from the usual banter. Thanks everyone for being so thoughtful in your responses and for being (almost totally) civil. :) You’ve all made me examine my position, which restores my faith in good dialogue a bit.

  • jason

    The problem with this assessment is that it assumes that views on gay marriage do not change in individuals over time. In my opinion, it’s quite obvious that people become more conservative as they age. Therefore, there is no guarantee that the young people of today are going to be as liberal when they age.

    Therefore, we must assume that there is no simple math which can predict when a majority will support gay marriage. That’s why we need to fight this in the court system. We need to stop being the good little gays “waiting for the majority to like us”.

    The majority can buzz off as far as I’m concerned.

  • jason

    Our rights are not beholden to the majority. Blacks didn’t wait for the majority to like them. Blacks didn’t wait for slavery to end through a change of heart by white racists. We in the gay community need to stop waiting for anyone to like us. We are not here to be liked.

  • Sam

    @Jason: “In my opinion, it’s quite obvious that people become more conservative as they age.”

    I would counter that there’s no general rule, but that for most people, their viewpoint stays primarily the same. Society gets more liberal, so older people seem conservative by comparison. So 1950’s liberals become 2009’s conservatives, because of how society has changed in 60 years.

  • Sam

    @Jason: “Blacks didn’t wait for slavery to end through a change of heart by white racists.”

    So the civil war was a slave revolt? I’m not disagreeing with your underlying point, but you might want to study your history.

  • terrwill

    God why the fucking drama over the word “marriage”??????
    Give us the exact same rights as every straight couple has. Make them legally binding. Give us civil unions. Who the hell wants the cookie cutter marriage ceremony that has been performed millions of times anyway? Get the civil paperwork and create and design you and your partners own ceremony. It will be more heartfelt and inspriring than any church or temple service you have ever attended. I am in complete disagreement with naghanenu, the vast majority of opposititon to Gay marriage is from the geezer commmunity. Let them all fuck off and die (literaly) and the tides will shift………………

  • jason

    There is no rule that says society becomes more liberal. However, there is ample evidence that people become more conservative as they age.

    I can only go back to the slavery analogy. If blacks had waited for white southern racists to change their views on slavery, they’d still be picking cotton today, under ball and chain.

  • hyhybt

    “Here’s what I suggest to make both sides happy
    Make civil unions the primary for heterosexuals AND homosexuals alike”

    Not this again. You know full well that that won’t make both sides happy. It won’t make *anyone* happy except the few people, such as yourself, who keep proposing it.

  • strumpetwindsock

    Sure people tend to get more set in their ways as we get older, but let’s not forget that most very bad social movements grew and consolidated power by exploiting dumb, ignorant and excitable young people. And many of them were not started by senior citizens.

    Think Nazis… but they are only one example.

    Old people may vote in greater numbers but they sure aren’t the ones bashing and murdering people.

    And as a matter of fact, the wave of politicized religious fundamentalism in the states and other countries is a NEW movement. In many things we are sliding backwards, partially because a lot of young people don’t know how bad things were and how hard people worked to accomplish the benefits we now enjoy.

    So yeah, I know the post is half in jest, but it still should be noted that it is based on an assumption that is only partially true.

  • Brian (The Original)

    @ Sam:

    The problem isn’t whether or not people become more liberal with age – it when the “old” conservatives (religious) will die. Or, at least enough of them.

    People vote against us mostly because of old-fashioned (literal) religious beliefs. Young people do not take religion seriously. If the Votes in California and Maine we limited to those under the age of 50 – we would have won both contests.

    Old habits … and beliefs, die hard.

  • Sam

    @Brian (The Original): If you read my other comments on this thread, you’ll see you’re preaching to the choir. (See comment 11, for example). The link was for Jason, who seems to think that all today’s pro-LGBT teens and 20-somethings are going to turn into homophobes when they hit 50, since “there is ample evidence that people become more conservative as they age.”

    I was just refuting that assertion with actual evidence.

  • Craig Chu

    People seem to be embarking on philosophical discussions of whether or not a projection would be accurate without actually trying to tackle the math.

    I’m an actuary by trade and have been pondering if there is a good way to model and project the future population to answer the original question. Does anyone have links to good exit polling and turnout statistics for Question 1 in Maine?

Comments are closed.