New Study Shows Pro-Marriage Legislators Win Elections


New Study Shows Pro-Marriage Legislators Win Elections

Election Results Prove Voting in Support of the Freedom to Marry Helps—and Does Not Hurt—Legislator

For Immediate Release:
January 12, 2009

Evan Wolfson, Executive Director
Mobile: 646-263-5552

New York, January 12, 2009 — Contrary to some political expectations, voting to support the freedom to marry and opposing anti-marriage measures helps rather than hurts politicians, a new study unequivocally shows.

For many years legislators across the country have voted on laws aimed at ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage.  Others have been asked to vote on state constitutional amendments aimed at discriminating against same-sex couples and their children by denying them the freedom to marry and other legal protections.

A review of all of these votes from 2005 to the present shows that legislators who vote to end marriage discrimination for same-sex couples are consistently re-elected.  The success of more than 1,100 state legislators who voted to support the freedom to marry stands in bold contrast to the commonly held belief that supporting marriage equality ends political campaigns and careers.  In fact, these legislators are re-elected no matter what party they represent or if they changed their vote from opposing to supporting marriage equality.  Even better, legislators who run for higher office win after voting in favor of marriage for same-sex couples.

“The American people deserve leaders who aren't afraid to lead.” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry.  “For politicians, standing up for marriage equality is not touching a third-rail, rather, it is a track to re-election – and, happily, the path toward inclusion that America is traveling.”

The study includes results from 21 different states representing all four major regions of the country and reviews statewide elections held from 2005 to the present.

“As statehouse sessions begin across the country, legislators should take the findings of this report as proof that there’s no reason to back down from supporting the freedom to marry and opposing anti-gay measures," said Wolfson.  " And those of us outside the legislature should not be afraid to ask our representatives to do the right thing, and should do our part to help them do it, by talking about the injustice of exclusion from marriage and how government should help, not hurt, all families.”

Download the study.


Freedom to Marry is the gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. Launched in 2003, Freedom to Marry is headed by Evan Wolfson, nationally recognized as a central "architect of the marriage equality movement." Freedom to Marry guides and focuses this social justice movement on a nationwide level, serving as a strategy and support center for national, state, and local partners, a catalyst that drives and shapes the national debate on marriage equality, and an alliance-builder fostering support from non-gay allies.