Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hawai'i and Alaska

    This is the fourth in a series of maps showing how people have voted on gay rights at a fine level of detail.
    In this post, I showing maps of the first two states to vote on restricting marriage to "one man and one woman" - Hawai'i and Alaska.
    In 1993, a Hawai'ian court found that denying similar gender couples the opportunity to marry was in violation of the equal protections guaranteed by the Constitution. After various legal wrangling issues that are too complicated for me to understand, in 1998 the Hawai'ian legislature put the following provision up as a state constitutional amendment, in order to prevent similar gender marriages from occurring.
    It passed by one of the widest margins of any such amendments seen, with 285,384 (69%) of the 403,211 votes cast. As you can see in the map below, the vote was pretty uniform across the state, with most polling places voting 60% to 75% in favor.

    In Alaska, a similar measure was also referred to the people for ratification to amend the state's constitution in 1998 (I'm still not sure why Alaska was so eager to get on board, or why so many other states held off until later years).
    This measure also passed easily, with 152,965 (68%) of the 224,596 votes cast. As in Hawai'i, there was very little regional difference in how people voted on the measure. The inset of Anchorage shows that voters in the state's largest city were no less likely to support restricting marriage. Don't read too much into the large patches of different colors in the North & the panhandle, these are because very few people live in these areas (often fewer than 20 votes cast).

    In 2007, the legislature put a non-binding question in front of the voters - basically asking "Hey, we want to make sure that no same-sex partners of state, county, or municipal government workers can get any health care, life insurance, inheritance or anything like that through spousal employment benefits, even if the local government wants to give those benefits - you cool with that?"
    And indeed, the voters were cool with that. The measure passed with 60,896 (53%) of the 115,338 votes cast. As far as I know, the Alaska legislature did not go on to propose such a constitutional amendment to deny employment benefits - perhaps they figured out that it would be an easy call for pretty much any judge to see that it wouldn't pass constitutional muster.
    In contrast to the vote 9 years earlier, there is a lot more regional heterogeneity in how Alaskans voted on this measure, and you an see a pretty strong gradient from North to South in Anchorage itself. I don't know jack about Anchorage, so I'd be curious if this looks "about right" to anyone with local knowledge. Again, you shouldn't read too much into the large patches in rural areas.

    In 2012, Anchorage residents had the opportunity to add sexual orientation to the anti-discrimination statute in the city code. The measure failed, getting only 30,208 (43%) of the 70,431 votes cast. There were some shockingly inflammatory ads run by a group against the measure (for allowing discrimination) that certainly helped tip the balance.

1 comment:

  1. Just discovered your blog. I really enjoy your commentary and these maps. Please keep the maps coming.

    As far as Alaska goes, I don't think it is accurate to say that Anchorage voted the way it did because of mean ads. In 2007, the entire state votes on gay partnership benefits. Only 53% vote against us and Anchorage supports us. In 2012, only liberal Anchorage votes on non-discrimination. Non-discrimination uniformly polls much better than partnership recognition, so given that Anchorage supported partner benefits in 2007, the 2012 vote should have been a good win. But it wasn't. We garnered only 41% support. Why?

    Well, the key difference, which you do not mention, is that the Anchorage ordinance included "transgender identity" a concept distinct from sexual orientation. The voters were forced to take all or nothing and they chose nothing. More egregiously, the proponents arrogantly refused to define "transgender identity," leaving their opponents to fill in the blanks. Most outrageously, the proposed law did not prohibit discrimination by trans people against non-trans people. "Sexual orientation" covered all discrimination by anyone against anyone else based on any sexual orientation, but the "transgender identity" clause was one-sided.

    That was the source of the debacle. In fact, this notion that sexual orientation must be bundled with gender identity is the source of many debacles. It is no accident that the anti-5 folks targeted their ads on that issue. They would have been stupid not to do so.