Gay marriage and Missouri

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(KPLR) – In Wednesday's Jacology, Charles Jaco looks at gay marriage and Missouri:

As of June, same-sex marriage is legal in Illinois. Because the Illinois General Assembly okayed gay marriage, Mayor Francis Slay tweeted that the vote in Illinois means Missouri won’t be far behind in approving same-sex marriage. That reminds me of a quote by the 18th century writer and philosopher Samuel Johnson, who said a second marriage, is the triumph of hope over experience. Mayor slay can hope all he wants. Experience tells us the Missouri general assembly will never okay gay marriage.

In fact, same sex marriage will never become legal in Missouri until either a federal court overturns the 2004 referendum in Missouri that defined marriage as between a man and a woman or until the U.S. Supreme Court rules that denying gays the right to marry is a violation of the 14th amendment's equal protection clause and that all states have to legalize it. The reason is the political muscle of religious conservatives in Missouri and the demographics that drive it.

Illinois politics is ruled by Chicago. And Chicago is a huge global metropolis. It's managed to attract young people, gay and straight from around the nation. They have no problem with gay marriage. And among older Chicagoans, there are a lot of progressives who support gay rights and a lot of libertarians who think it's none of their business who marries whom. Contrast that to attitudes in downstate Illinois, a shrinking area with a falling population. It’s rural, older, less well-educated, and religious. Which means opposition to same sex marriage.

Those are Missouri’s demographic. Huge swathes of the state are losing population rapidly. Northern Missouri from Nebraska to Illinois is emptying out. So is southeast Missouri bordering Kentucky and Tennessee. Urban St. Louis and KC don't have enough of a gay and progressive population to outweigh the votes, even from dying rural Missouri. That's why the anti-gay marriage ballot initiative passed so easily in 2004. And it'll stay that way, until some court; somewhere, orders Missouri to join the 21st century.

I'm Charles Jaco, and that's Jacology.

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