thought exercises

Why Are Pro-Gay States the Most Likely to Become Even Pro-Gay-er?


Support for gays has seen an increase across all 50 states over the past two decades. No big deal, right? Here’s the big deal: It’s increased the most in states where gay rights were already flowing the most!

Stats whiz FiveThirtyEight suggests this might have something to do with a tipping point (i.e. the more gay people you know, and the more your friends support gays, the more you’re likely to as well) and the effects of not reaching a tipping point (i.e. if you live in a state that’s less gay-friendly, you’re less likely to come out, meaning there are fewer out gays to contribute to actually reaching a tipping point, leaving the state gay-unfriendly … very Catch-22 stuff here).

Malcolm Gladwell sold millions of books discussing this same thing! So let’s take another Gladwell euphemism: Thin-slicing, which suggests we make great (or at least equally good) decisions based on a narrow set of available data rather than complex thought and consideration.

Based on thin-slicing, you could thus conclude the same people who are against same-sex marriage are absolute tools. No need for reasonable debate there!

(Photo, marriage equality by state: NPR)

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  • dgz

    call me crazy, but i don’t think Nate Silver wrote the article.

  • galefan2004

    I think there could also be some relocation going on. I mean, if you have the choice to live in a state that will recognize your human rights or to live in one that thinks you should be shot for being who you are as human being you are probably going to consider moving unless you have an absolute reason not to. Personally, I feel that CT is the most beautiful state I have ever been in, and I would like to live there some day as compared to Ohio. However, as long as I’m in Ohio, I’m taking a stand for my rights.

  • Bill

    I find it most amazing amongst all of this talk about whether or not Gays & Lesbians are actually HUMAN enough to warrant the same rights that THE VERY HETEROSEXUALS THAT CREATED THEM take for granted to be the biggest insult to ALL of humanity.

    Heterosexuals have a lot of F’ing NERVE to try and take some sort of moral high ground on Gay & Lesbian issues, when Heterosexuals, who CREATE Homosexuals, can not even treat their own creations with dignity and respect.

    Morals indeed, Heteros. Morals, indeed.

  • Kevin

    I think Nate’s theory is spot on. In addition, I think gays in a state that is less gay friendly are more likely to leave it for a friendlier one. Which is perfectly understandable, though it further extends the divide between super-friendly and super-unfriendly areas.

  • hardmannyc

    Only a Californian would post something that calls New York State “small.”

  • Confused

    Your map’s wrong. The recent Prop 8 decision guaranteed that gay couples must have the exact same rights as straight married couples. That means it should be yellow and blue like Oregon and Washington.

  • WeTheSheeple

    I live in one of those anti-gay states (michigan) and will be moving to the northeast next year. As much as I love a good fight for my equality, I’ve had enough with michigan. It doesn’t look like things will change here until ordered to by the SCOTUS, and that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. So add me to the list of people moving out of a hate-state.

  • M Shane

    If there was anything like a significant gay community or any gay liberation movement, we would be able to stand as a united minority ; the assimilation movement is no more than a message that we are ashamed of who we are and want to appear like straight middle class married couples.

    Until then we can’t really tell what gay friendly is; does it mean respectable, closeted gay friendly or does it mean that they support us as the unique minority that we are?

  • Patrique

    I debate constantly between moving after graduation to a pro-gay state or staying in GA for awhile to advance gay rights. It’s a shame that states across the US see a talent drain because they deny basic civil rights and protection. Though I agree with M. Shane there should be a more concerted effort as a united minority to advance gay rights, like blacks did in the ’50s and ’60s.

  • edgyguy1426

    ugh if it weren’t for the physical city itself, I’d hate living in Chicago, and so backward, excep for the LBGT friendly mayor, we’re dealing with downstate conservatives and a ton of baptist influence. ugh squared.

  • hephaestion

    While MD is colored as an anti-gay state here, there were a number of Virginia gays who moved to DC and Maryland after VA passed its Draconian anti-gay laws a few years ago. I think MD is on the cusp of joining the pro-gay northeastern states.

  • threshold

    Yeah, I think people moving explains the different increases.
    After I get out of medical school I plan to leave Texas.

  • sdandy

    @threshold (and others): Ohio sucked for attitudes, but when it comes down to it, I left because there was no where near enough high tech anything to sustain the career that I get on the west coast. It was just a bonus that living life was so much easier…talent and brain-drain will just continue.

  • Em

    Can I, just for a second, point out how AWESOME it is to see MY Iowa green in the field of blue up there?

    GO IOWA!!

  • Em

    ^^ LMAO

    That didnt come out right, I dont think… I wish NONE of them were blue… but… shit… I think you get my point..tee hee hee

  • Vanhattan


    I was born just across the river in Omaha and even though I left years ago, I will always have a special place in my heart for the core of the midwest and their huge sense of what is right and fair for all its citizens
    Yes, great for Iowa! Everyone should be so lucky to live in such a forward thinking place.
    @threshold: & @WeTheSheeple:
    Smart, smart men. Trust me you will be much happier after your moves. I am. Safe travels!

  • epyonmanx

    Why are Vermont and Connecticut striped? Both have gay marriage

  • Rain

    Part of the problem is this state-by-state battle that we’re engaged in.

    If blacks had to do it that way they would still be riding on the back of the bus and ineligible to vote in much of the South.

  • Phoenix (Always A Bridesmaid, Never A Groom)


    Stripes stand for “Legislation pending”, I think the map was made before it was quite legal.

  • dgz

    Q: why do gay friendly states grow friendlier faster?

    A: because people are sheep. i.e. moral values are normative. conformity never goes out of style.

    …not that i’m complaining!

  • M Shane

    @DGZ you are right that “people are sheep and conformity never goes out of style. “.
    That is the most pathetic and horrifying thing that can happen in a democracy. Why do you think that Bush got elected and we came close on the heels of Nazism.
    The founding fathers were most afraid of this domination by an ignorant public

  • Timothy

    Your map is crap.

    Both California and Nevada offer Domestic Partnerships equal (or nearly equal) to marriage.

Comments are closed.