• 11.18.09

Infographic of the Day: A Chronology of the Gay Marriage Debate

A handy map by the LA Times summarizes the sprawling, state-by-state debate.

Gay Marriage

Even if you’re up on the news, the present state of the debate over gay marriage can be confusing at best. The LA Times has created an infographic to help. It is not a particularly well-designed graphic, but it’s chockablock with information, and has links to the relevant news stories.


The baseline of the map is a color-coded system, showing the exact nature of gay-marriage laws in each state–a deep crimson, for example, indicates a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, as well as various legal rights for gay couples; deep green means gay marriage is legal.

Where the graph gets interesting is in the timeline—you can view a snapshot of the country at any point in the last ten years. (The snapshot above preceded Maine’s ban on gay marriage, which voters decided in November.)

Comparing the map between 2000 and now is striking. 2000:

Gay Marriage

The color coding shows a country where laws were roughly at parity in 2000, with a legal ban on gay marriage–but few laws regarding gay rights. By 2009 that parity has splintered into states where gays are denied many rights, and a few states where marriage is legal.

In other words, the color coding tells you a story that doesn’t quite fit with the one that many liberals cite: That gay marriage has gained greater acceptance, as social mores and generational attitudes shift. That might be true at the level of demographics and opinion polls–and it might mean legal gay marriage in the future. But for now it’s a hot button, and states have responded in highly polarized ways. The default position has been less rights, not more.

[Via @Datavis]

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.