7 States That May Never Legalize Gay Marriage


The anti-gay marriage legislation DOMA has been struck down in the Supreme Court. Gay marriage has been upheld in California. So what does this mean for states?

Minnesota made headlines two months ago by taking up a vote on same sex marriage, following a 2012 popular vote rejecting a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. This came just a week after a similar vote in Rhode Island that approved marriage equality. Maine, Maryland, and Washington all legalized same sex marriage in 2012, with Delaware, Nevada, and Illinois expected to come next. Fifty-three percent (53%) of Americans are in support. 

Romney lost. Obama evolved. And a growing tide of popular support continues to grow for the marriage rights of gays and lesbians — especially among younger voters. With so many people asking which states next, look back at a different kind of question …

Which states never?

Interestingly, the seven states least likely today to support marriage equality are not the seven most conservative states (in fact, only two — Mississippi and Utah — would make both lists); they weren't even the biggest Romney supporters. But they do tend to be Southern (Utah excluded), mired by Republican-style politics, a staunchly conservative spirit, and a deeply traditional culture.

And they're really not big fans of the marriage equality thing. 

1. Mississippi

Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. 

Romney voters: 55.5%

Conservatives: 48.2% 

Marriage Equality Support: 13%  

Why it might not happen: The state garnered some controversy when a predominantly white church blocked the wedding of a black couple last year (yes, that still happens there too). Then Governor Phil Bryant said, “Look, when people want to get married, we ought to let them get married … I want to make every opportunity I can for any couple that wants to, to go get married.”

Gay couples too??

“I wouldn’t say gay couples, no. I’d say a man and a woman. Let me make sure, let’s get that right. When I say couples, I automatically assume it’s a man and a woman.”

Shucks. So close.

2. West Virginia

No constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage or civil unions.

Romney voters: 62.3%

Conservatives: 43.9%

Marriage Equality Support: 19%

Why it might not happen: A group called the Family Policy Network opposes a proposed amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman, because it’s too liberal.

“Homosexual activists and their sympathizers take advantage of such weak marriage amendments in order to create homosexual legal unions that look like marriage in every way but name … Let’s be clear: the word ‘marriage’ doesn’t need protecting. What needs protecting is the God-created institution of one-man, one-woman union that bears the name.”

3. South Carolina

Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. 

Romney voters: 54.6%

Conservatives: 43.7%

Marriage Equality Support: 21%

Why it might not happen: Governor Nikki Haley is on record as opposed to same sex marriage, as is an overwhelming amount of her state (not to mention their neighboring Carolina). 

Though that’s not stopping the first biracial, lesbian Miss South Carolina contestant from breaking barriers.

4. Kentucky

Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. 

Romney voters: 60.5%

Conservatives: 41.0%

Marriage Equality Support: 27%

Why it … might happen? Kentucky is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell country, with a very strong conservative presence in the state. That said, Governor Steve Beshear, a Democrat, has not taken a strong stance on the issue.

Better than nothing.

5. Georgia

Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. 

Romney voters: 53.4%

Conservatives: 43.8%

Marriage Equality Support: 27%

Why it might not happen: Governor Nathan Deal ran what some are calling the most aggressively anti-LGBT campaign in memory, running multiple ads that described youth advocacy group YouthPride as “a group that promotes homosexuality among teenagers as young as 13.”

6. Utah

Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. 

Romney voters: 72.8%

Conservatives: 48%

Marriage Equality Support: 28%

Why it might not happen: Utah is the most conservative state in the country, with a strong religious presence and wide-spread support of traditional marriage. Governor Gary Herbert seems to agree: “Marriage is the recognized union between one man and one woman only. That is all that needs to be said.”

7. Tennessee

Tennessee has a statute that bans same-gender civil marriage.

Romney voters: 59.5%

Conservatives: 44.2%

Marriage Equality Support: 28%

Why it might not happen: Governor Bill Haslam, during a 2011 interview, expressed his preference for less regulation over discrimination protection for gays and lesbians: “During the campaign, I was real clear. I’m not in favor of gay marriage. Gay rights is a broad topic … why wouldn’t I add gays as a protected class? I just feel like there’s enough regulation coming down.”