More than three years after a Supreme Court decision gave federal recognition to same-sex marriages performed in states that allowed them, the demographics of same-sex married couples largely remain a mystery. In fact, no one has a definitive count of gay married couples in the United States. Methodological problems like sample size and false positives have long plagued census estimates of this relatively small group. But a new research paper published by the Treasury Department on Monday has found an interesting way around these problems: tax records.
The national fight for marriage equality is once again dominating the headlines, after the Minnesota House passed a same-sex marriage bill with a critical vote on May 9. Hence, The Atlantic is offering its readers a unique way to track the progress of same-sex marriage , year-by-year, in the United States with a colorful new interactive map. Check out an image of the map below, then scroll down to keep reading:. As Atlantic writers Elspeth Reeve and Philip Bump point out, dark gray above shows when states banned gay marriage statutorily, while black shows when states extra-banned it by constitutional amendment. Meanwhile, light red shows when a state adopted domestic partnerships or civil unions. Read more about the map here.
Millions of people continue to live in places that outlaw same-sex relationships and prosecute people for being gay. In five countries and in parts of two others, homosexuality is still punishable with the death penalty, while a further 70 imprison citizens because of their sexual orientation. Even where homosexuality is legal, many countries treat those in same-sex relationships differently, such as having an unequal age of consent or a ban on marriage. In Russia, host of the Sochi Winter Olympics, a law banning the promotion of "non-traditional" sexuality to unders was introduced last year. So, where is it illegal to be gay?
The Supreme Court in June said that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry, effectively requiring that the 13 states that prohibit such unions reverse those bans. Over the last two years, the number of states authorizing gay marriage had expanded rapidly because of legislative decisions, referendums or court orders. A ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court in allowing same-sex marriage, along with rising demands for marriage equality nationwide, prompted a backlash.