At a time when many U.S. states have legalized gay marriage, North Carolina just banned it. (Now technically, gay marriage had never been acknowledged by the state, so for all intents and purposes, nothing changed. And maybe that’s why the move feels like such blatant bigotry.)
But while many of us have responded in collective shock, in light of The Guardian’s extensive gay rights infographic, North Carolina’s actions feel downright predictable.
The Guardian breaks down specific gay rights radially by each state. Issues fan out from the center like rings around a bull’s-eye, allowing a quick comparison of housing, hospital visitation, adoption and, at the very edges of the image, gay marriage. The richer the colors, the more expansive the rights are on a particular topic.
What you realize quite quickly is, there sure aren’t a lot of washed-out colors in the grid. Rather, states appear as either rich packs of rainbow Life Savers or stale loaves of Wonder Bread. There’s very little in between.
North Carolina is Wonder Bread. There were few gay rights there yesterday, and there are few today. The same could be said about every other white state. Meanwhile, the states that have offered marriage equality had built an entire scaffolding of other gay rights first—a scaffolding that’s evident when you look at states like Oregon, California, and New Jersey that have a rich array of flavors just short of gay marriage’s cherry Life Saver.
Now, what’s a bit deflating—and what the graphic may convey best—is that there are very few true battleground states on this map, with a mixture of laws that might soon go either way (New Mexico, Delaware, and Wisconsin are pretty much it). If gay marriage indeed requires this scaffolding of other rights first, then how can we anticipate much more legalized gay marriage in the near future?
It’s remarkable that a few colors around a simple circle can summarize the state of a deep-seeded political and human rights issue so succinctly, no? And until there’s a lot more light yellow, blue, and green on this chart, bans like North Carolina’s probably shouldn’t surprise any of us.