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Report: Lawmakers who support marriage equality overwhelmingly win re-election

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
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WASHINGTON – A new report released Tuesday by Freedom to Marry and Third Way, found that state legislators who vote in favor of marriage for same-sex couples overwhelmingly win voter support when running for reelection.

Based on election results in two states that passed freedom to marry laws in the 2011-2012 legislative cycle and whose members stood for reelection — New York and Washington state — the analysis, “Pro-Marriage Legislators Win Elections,” finds that pro-marriage legislators who ran for reelection won 97 percent of the time.

This is significantly higher than the national incumbent re-election average of 90 percent in 2012.

“Polls have shown that a growing majority of Americans support ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage – and now we know that Americans vote that way at the polls, too,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry.

“Lawmakers who cast votes for the freedom to marry get voted back in – and on both side of the aisle. Elected officials can vote for the freedom to marry and be on the right side of history, secure that supporting the freedom to marry is not only the right vote to cast; it’s also the politically smart vote to take,” said Wolfson.

According to an analysis of the 2012 election, the report indicated:

  • 97 percent of those who voted for marriage equality and ran for reelection won, compared to only 90 percent of incumbent state legislators nationwide.
  • Of the 5 who lost, 2 were under investigation for corruption or misuse of taxpayer dollars, so only 3 of 146 lost without being under an ethics cloud (2 percent).
  • At least 85 percent of the 13 Republican legislators who voted for marriage since the 2010 election did not lose their seats because of it.

“The 2012 election illustrated that moderate Americans have largely completed their journey on this issue and now see a lawmaker’s support for marriage as a reason to vote for, not against, that candidate,” said Jon Cowan, President of Third Way.

“This latest comprehensive study of the fate of state legislators who voted for marriage makes evident that pro-marriage legislators of both parties can win in districts that span the regional and ideological spectrum,” Cowan said.

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