It will be difficult to exaggerate the impact of New York’s move to legalize same-sex marriage. The statistics tell part of the story. New York State becomes the sixth state to recognize same-sex marriage, but its population is greater than that of the other five combined. When same-sex marriage is legal in New York next month, fully one in every nine Americans will live in a state or jurisdiction where same-sex marriage is legal. By any measure, this is a massive development in the nation’s legal and moral life.
Add to this the fact that California, the nation’s most populous state, is hanging in the balance as Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment passed by the state’s voters defining marriage as exclusively the union of a man and a woman, is now an issue before the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco. It arrived at the appellate court after a federal judge in California ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. If California is added (again) to the states with legal same-sex marriage, more than a third of the nation’s citizens will live where same-sex marriage is the law of the land.