A new report from Third Way finds that voters largely do not punish lawmakers for voting for marriage equality, regardless of political party. The study analyzed lawmakers in Washington and New York, the only two states where elected officials have faced re-election after addressing the issue of same-sex marriage. Of those who supported the freedom to marry, 97 percent of them who ran again won re-election. Two of the five who lost were under investigation for corruption or misuse of tax dollars, and one lived in a Washington district that voted to approve the marriage equality referendum, so it’s not likely her loss had much to do with the question of marriage.
The last two lawmakers on the list who ran for re-election and lost after supporting marriage equality were Republican New York Senators Stephen Saland and Roy McDonald. The National Organization for Marriage waged an expensive vengeance campaign against them, and while it had some impact, the net result as not in NOM’s favor. McDonald lost to his more conservative primary challenger, but he also raised less money than she did. Saland lost to an equality-supporting Democrat because he split his votes with a conservative challenger who stayed in the race after the primary election. NOM has claimed there are consequences for voting against marriage equality, but the only evidence that this is true is created by NOM spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in retaliation.
Supporting marriage equality does not have to be a political decision for lawmakers. Only NOM’s commitment to political bullying tactics stands in their way of continuing to win the support of their constituents.