With gay marriage fever sweeping the nation (especially Red Sox Nation), it's still hard to imagine Pennsylvania -- a.k.a. "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between" -- as getting caught up. The Keystone State is diverse melting pot of people, but that pot has been larded with our own unique blend of social conservatism. When I was researching my cover story on same-sex marriage for today's Daily News, I was surprised to learn that political numbers guru Nate Silver, in contructing a nationwide map of where gay marriage will next win support, had us pegged at enacting such a law just three years from now. From my article:
Some experts believe that Pennsylvania will eventually join the list of states - which now includes Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, Connecticut and Maine, as well as the District of Columbia - that have legalized gay marriage or are about to and, in fact, that the day of reckoning might come sooner than people expect.
Nate Silver, the former baseball-stats guru who's now among the nation's top analysts of political data, recently created a map predicting when all 50 states would legalize same-sex marriage, and - based on factors such as the power of a state's evangelical religious movement - listed Pennsylvania as a state that would recognize gay marriages in 2012.
To me, this proves...the limits of statistical analysis. With Pennsylvania voting Democratic in every presidential race since 1988 and with a lower profile for the Sunbelt, mega-church breed of Christian fundamentalism, it would be easy to confuse us with our next-door neighbors in Jersey, but the numbers don't really add up. The state is home to an unusally large number of Democrat-voting social conservatives, from Catholic labor-union types in Scranton or the Mon Valley, to the African-American churches of Philly that strongly oppose gay marriage. I think it's more likely that gay activists will still be fighting a proposed ban on same-sex marriage in 2012, not heading down the aisle.