Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Almost 40?

Andrew Koppelman

Pamela Karlan points out that, by some calculations, I may have undercounted the number of Americans who live in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex couples.

After Illinois adopted civil unions for same-sex couples, I calculated here that 28 percent of the American population lives "now lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or its functional equivalent." Five jurisdictions allow same-sex marriage (Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont) and six states provide for civil unions or domestic partnerships (California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington). Those jurisdictions contain slightly more than 28 percent of the U.S. population.

By a different calculation, the number is almost 40 percent. Karlan notes (in the last footnote of this paper just posted to SSRN) that, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, three other states (Maryland, New York, and Rhode Island) recognize same-sex marriages from other states and a further three (Hawaii, Maine, and Wisconsin) have "[s]tatewide law providing some state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples." When those six states are added to my total, 39.7 percent of Americans live in a jurisdiction which provides some legal recognition.

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