The Atlantic – Obama Pitched Gay Marriage to the Justices—Without Setting Foot in Court

Obama Pitched Gay Marriage to the Justices—Without Setting Foot in Court

JAN 23 2013, 2:41 PM ET 4
Activists have been clamoring for the White House to weigh in on an upcoming Supreme Court case. With his inaugural address, the president did them one better.

Reuters
On Monday, President Obama made gay-rights history during his inaugural address.

“We the people declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall,” Obama said. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”

And on Tuesday, Press Secretary Jay Carney dutifully repeated a well-worn line to reporters at the White House briefing. “The president believes that it’s an issue that should be addressed by the states,” Carney said.

Ah, yes. The states! If it was a letdown to hear the White House bungle its same-sex-marriage message just one day after President Obama made a historic statement at the inauguration, it was also oh-so predictable. Those of us who have followed every step of Obama’s dance with marriage equality are used to this herky-jerky, two-steps-forward-one-step-back tango by now.

When the president instructed his Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in 2011, the White House continued to insist that the definition of marriage should be left to the states. When Obama announced last year that for him, “personally” it was important to affirm his support for marriage equality, the White House maintained it was still a matter for the states to decide. Even as Obama’s campaign weighed in favorably last November on pro-gay-marriage ballot measures in Maine, Maryland, and Washington (not to mention opposing the anti-gay Minnesota amendment as “divisive and discriminatory”), the White House persisted: It’s a state issue.

As one might expect, given this twisted history of parsing, when Carney trotted out the states’ rights argument this time, it came limping back: White House reporters — who likely feel their intelligence has been insulted one time too many on this issue — piled on with questions about the rationale.

Was the display disheartening for marriage-equality proponents? Sure. And as a former reporter, I believe what the White House says at the briefing generally matters. But in this instance, Tuesday’s tomfoolery was mere Beltway theater toiling in the shadows of Monday’s monumental national stage.

Ever since December, when the Supreme Court announced that it would hear Hollingsworth v. Perry — a case that could determine whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry nationwide — LGBT advocates have been clamoring for the White House to weigh in on the case by writing what’s known as a “friend of the court” brief. And so far, the White House has declined to do so. “As you know,” Carney reminded reporters, “the administration is not a party to that case and I have nothing more for you on that.”

It would have been shocking to see Carney make the announcement that administration now believes same-sex marriage is a constitutionally protected fundamental right. But make no mistake: What Obama did in his inaugural speech Monday was in many ways more profound than filing an amicus brief.

As CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin noted, the nine Supreme Court justices who will soon rule on questions of marriage looked on just feet away while the nation’s first black president linked the struggle of LGBT-rights activists with those of the African-American and women’s-rights activists who came before them.

In legal terms, that could have a very specific implication. Both blacks and women are groups legally considered to have suffered a level of discrimination worthy of a higher standard of judicial review. This designation subjects laws classifying people by race or sex to heightened scrutiny, requiring that the government provide a strong justification for the law. And while the Supreme Court has never applied that standard to gays, Attorney General Eric Holder declared in February 2011 he thought heightened scrutiny was the appropriate standard for laws treating them differently, and that DOMA was therefore unconstitutional.

In symbolic terms, the president’s sentiment is even more important. It demonstrates that the man who is by his very presence in the Oval Office the greatest civil-rights achievement of this nation, views the cause of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans in a similar light to those of other great movements. It is, in fact, a statement that urges a milestone ruling from the court that would recall landmark decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 or Loving v. Virginia in 1967.

Obama rooted that vision in the most fundamental of truths that our forebears claimed self-evident at the birth of this nation: that we are all created equal. “For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” Obama argued.

The president knows that the likelihood of advancing that journey by passing legislation that, for instance, repeals DOMA, will remain pretty low as long as the House remains in Republican hands. So instead, he took his case directly to the court, letting the justices know exactly where he stands on the issue when it comes before them at the end of March.

As Obama put it, “History tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing.” So I applaud the efforts of groups such as Equality California and the Human Rights Campaign that continue to press Obama on this matter. And would I like to see the administration file a brief declaring the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry? Absolutely.

But if you think one day in the Brady Press Briefing Room somehow compares to the pedestal on which Obama placed the freedom of LGBT Americans to pursue their happiness, think again.

Time – Why Obama’s Second Inaugural Speech Is Historic for Gay Americans

Why Obama’s Second Inaugural Speech Is Historic for Gay Americans

By Michael A. Lindenberger / San FranciscoJan. 22, 201322 Comments

ROB CARR / REUTERS / POOL

President Barack Obama gives his Inauguration Address in Washington on Jan. 21, 2013.

Second Inaugurals have been remembered before, and Monday’s speech had none of the diamond-hard eloquence and blood-soaked wisdom that Abraham Lincoln mustered nearly 150 years ago when the curtain rose on his second term. But like that speech, Barack Obama’s address this week will likely be the stuff of history — and of Hollywood. Echoing Thomas Jefferson, Obama said, “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall … ”

By clearly linking the struggle for gay rights to two of the most haloed movements in U.S. history — the women’s-rights campaigns of the 19th century and the blacks’-civil-rights marches of the last century — President Obama’s speech has etched into the hearts and memories of millions of Americans the year 2013 as a moment to tell their children about. Those three moments in American history — “Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall” — became equal actors in the long “arc of the moral universe” that Martin Luther King Jr., in another, more controversial speech, assured his followers bends toward justice.

Both of the earlier moments referenced by Obama sought to attain greater legal rights for their participants. In 1848, it was abolitionists and women who came together at a conference in Seneca Falls, N.Y., looking to win the right to vote, among other rights, for women. And in 1965, blacks in Alabama attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery to press for their right to vote, only to be turned back almost immediately by police with clubs and tear gas. Two weeks later, armed with a federal court order, the marchers made it to the capital. Five months later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

Stonewall in 1969 was different. It had none of the stateliness of the older movements and none of their careful planning. It exploded when police rousted patrons of a popular gay bar called the Stonewall Inn early one Saturday morning. At the time, homosexuality was illegal in many states, and in New York City it was illegal for two men to dance together, for a bar to serve openly gay customers or for a woman to dress as a man. When a lesbian in handcuffs was tossed roughly into the waiting police van, onlookers rioted. In the ensuing melee, the police officers barricaded themselves in the bar for safety. Reinforcements arrived and calmed the crowd, but not before four officers were injured. At least 13 members of the crowd were arrested.

The riot wrecked the bar. Gay men and women and their supporters began days of vigils and by the next year held what many consider the first modern gay-rights march, a forerunner to the pride parades that are held each year in cities across the U.S. But with tossed beer bottles and angry men in drag, the riot and the ensuing protests did not draw widespread sympathy from the public. Despite its vaunted place in the hearts of gay-rights advocates, the Stonewall riots remained for most Americans an uncomfortably raucous moment, not often recalled.

(MORE: Obama’s Inaugural Speech Was Bold, but Following Through Won’t Be Easy)

That could well change as a result of Obama’s speech, as the fallout and feedback spread across Facebook and Twitter. By Monday afternoon, the impact of the speech had already begun sinking in along San Francisco’s famously gay-friendly Castro Street. Cashier John Winter says the news made his own marriage somehow more permanent, more real. Winter says he married in 2008, during a several-month window when gay marriage was legal in California. “I’m still looking for it to be recognized at the national level, though,” he says. But he’s more hopeful after hearing Monday’s speech, which had been playing over and over on the television in his shop all day. “It even makes the marriage seem stronger,” he says.

Whether his marriage is indeed strengthened remains to be seen — and in that, Obama has already had his say. The rest is up to the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments as soon as March in the two biggest gay-rights cases to reach the court in years. What impact Monday’s speech will have on their decision, and on the presumed swing vote by Anthony M. Kennedy, is unclear.

But it’s worth noting that it took 72 years after Seneca Falls for the 19th Amendment to be ratified. And despite the fast action on the Voting Rights Act, legal fights over black civil rights — from busing and school-assignment plans to affirmative action — continue.

There have been plenty of seminal moments in the legal fight for gay rights in the past few years, from the lower-court gay-marriage victories to the opening of the military to gay soldiers. The Supreme Court decision later this year, no matter who wins, could dominate the gay-rights landscape for years to come. But what Obama did Monday was different. With a handful of words, he welcomed a group of rock-tossing, fed-up gays and lesbians — and drag queens — into the pantheon of American heroes.

Whatever happens to marriage this summer, that’s something that won’t be forgotten.

Lindenberger is a national-legal-affairs contributor to TIME.com and a 2013 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University.

 

NY Times -Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships (Obama)

Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships

Lou Dematteis/Reuters
Updated: May 15, 2012

President Obama declared for the first time on May 9, 2012, that he supports same-sex marriage, putting the moral power of his presidency behind a social issue that continues to divide the country.

“At a certain point,” Mr. Obama said in an interview in the Cabinet Room at the White House with ABC’s Robin Roberts, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

The comments end years of public equivocating over the divisive social issue for the president, who has previously said he opposed gay marriage but repeatedly said he was “evolving” on the issue because of contact with friends and others who are gay.

Mr. Obama’s remarks — becoming the first sitting president to support extending the rights and status of marriage to gay couples — came after long-standing pressure from gay rights activists who are among his most loyal constituents but have been frustrated by his refusal to weigh in on the issue.

But the decision to risk the potential political damage in an election year appears to have been driven by the unexpected declarations of support for gay marriage by his vice president and several cabinet members.

His remarks came after Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on May 6 that he is “absolutely comfortable” with the idea of gay Americans marrying each other. Arne Duncan, the secretary education, said a day later that he flatly supports gay marriage.

In the interview, Mr. Obama spoke about how his views about same-sex marriage have changed over the years, in part because of prodding from friends who are gay.

“I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient,” Mr. Obama said. “I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.”

But he added that “I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally.”

Mr. Obama’s change of heart puts him at even sharper odds with his presumptive Republican rival, Mitt Romney, who opposes same-sex marriage and favors an amendment to the United States Constitution to forbid it.

Overview

Same-sex marriage became a reality in the United States in 2004 in the wake of a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that it was required under the equal protection clause of the state’s Constitution.

Prior to 2012, same-sex marriage was also legalized in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

In Washington State, a bill legalizing it was passed in February 2012, but opponents said they would seek to block it and put the question before the voters in a referendum.

In February, the New Jersey Assembly approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, setting up a confrontation with Gov. Chris Christie, who vetoed the bill and called on the Legislature to put the issue before voters instead.

Also in February, the State Legislature in Maryland gave its final approval to a same-sex marriage law, which was signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley in early March. Opponents vow to bring the measure to voters with a referendum.

In early May, North Carolina voted in large numbers for a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages, partnerships and civil unions, becoming the 30th state in the country and the last in the South to include a prohibition on gay marriage in the state constitution. North Carolina, a religious but also relatively moderate state on social issues, already has a law banning same-sex marriage. But Republican lawmakers pushed an amendment out of concern that the law was in danger of being struck down by judges.

Also in May, Colorado lawmakers reached an impasse over a bill to allow civil unions, as Republicans blocked a House vote until a deadline expired.

On May 14, a special legislative session was called by Colorado Gov. John W. Hickenlooper to debate the issue. The legislation was voted down by Republican lawmakers on a 5-to-4 vote along party lines after emotional testimony in the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, where it was assigned by Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.

In voting against the bill, Representative Don Coram, a Republican, said he was especially torn, because he has a gay son. “This is a situation that is very close to my heart,” he said. “But it’s very difficult because I also represent 75,000 people in southwest Colorado. What you are asking me to do here is to invalidate the vote of six years ago.”

Mr. Coram was referring to a 2006 amendment approved by the state’s voters that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Meanwhile, in California, a court battle continues. The state’s Supreme Court had ruled in May 2008 that a ban on same-sex marriage was discriminatory, and the state began performing them. The ban was restored in a referendum that fall by a ballot measure known as Proposition 8.

The legality of the Proposition 8 ban was upheld by the state’s Supreme Court, but in August 2011, a federal judge ruled that it was unconstitutional. In February 2012, a federal appeals court agreed. The case is expected to be resolved by the Supreme Court. For more on Proposition 8, click here.

Biden’s Comments Put Pressure on Obama

In May 2012, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriages. Until then, the Obama administration had endorsed civil unions but not marriage for gay couples.

Mr. Biden’s comments sent the White House scrambling to clarify that the vice president was not articulating an official change in policy. In the wake of Mr. Biden’s declaration, Mr. Obama was under mounting pressure to clarify his thinking on same-sex marriage.

On May 9, Mr. Obama sat down for an interview with ABC News, during which he said that he supports same-sex marriage, putting the moral power of his presidency behind a social issue that continues to divide the country.

“At a certain point,” Mr. Obama said in an interview in the Cabinet Room at the White House with ABC’s Robin Roberts, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

A Flashpoint in American Politics

For more than a decade, the issue has been a flashpoint in American politics, setting off waves of competing legislation, lawsuits and ballot initiatives to either legalize or ban the practice and causing rifts within religious groups.

The legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States had been a relatively recent goal of the gay-rights movement, but in the wake of the Massachusetts ruling, gay-rights organizers have placed it at the center of their agenda, steering money and muscle into dozens of state capitals in an often uphill effort to persuade lawmakers. At the same time, conservative groups pushed hard to forestall or reverse other courts through new laws or referendums.

Proponents of same-sex marriage have long argued that the institution of marriage is a unique expression of love and commitment and that calling the unions of same-sex couples anything else is a form of second-class citizenship; they also point out that many legal rights are tied to marriage. Those opposed to same-sex marriage agree that marriage is a fundamental bond with ancient roots. But they draw the opposite conclusion, saying that allowing same-sex couples to marry would undermine the institution of marriage itself.

Running Battles: Political and Legal

The issue of same-sex marriage came to the fore after the Supreme Court of Hawaii ruled in 1993 that the denial of marriage licenses to three homosexual couples amounted to unconstitutional discrimination on the basis of sex — not sexual orientation — unless the state could show a compelling reason for the denials.

The Hawaii Legislature passed a bill in 1994 affirming marriage as intended for “man-woman units” capable of procreation. But in 1996, conservatives, fearful that the court case would lead to the sanctioning of marriages of lesbian and gay couples in Hawaii by the end of 1997, campaigned across the nation to insure that the recognition of same-sex marriages would not spread to other states.

The legislative battle picked up momentum as more conservatives became convinced a federal law was required. In September 1996, the United States Congress, approving what was called the “Defense of Marriage Act,” voted overwhelmingly to deny Federal benefits to married people of the same sex and to permit states to ignore such marriages sanctioned in other states. The bill was signed by President Bill Clinton.

In 1998, Hawaii voters rejected the legalization of same-sex marriages.

Same-sex marriage first became a reality in the United States in 2004, after the Supreme Court in Massachusetts ruled that it was required under the equal protection clause of the state’s Constitution. Connecticut began allowing same-sex marriage in late 2008.

In April 2009, Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing gay couples to marry, and the legislatures of Maine and Vermont passed laws granting the same right in the following weeks. In California, after a court decision in 2008 allowed the marriages, a voter referendum that November, upheld in court in May 2009, barred them.

The New Hampshire legislature approved revisions to a same-sex marriage bill on June 3, 2009, and Gov. John Lynch promptly signed the legislation, making the state the sixth to let gay couples wed and changing the landscape surrounding an issue that brings together deeply held principles and flashpoint politics.

Civil unions, an intermediate step that supporters say has made same-sex marriage seem less threatening, are legal in New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont. The latter two states are phasing them out after adopting same-sex marriage laws.

In February 2011, Mr. Obama, in a major legal policy shift, directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act — the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages — against lawsuits challenging it as unconstitutional.

California

On May 15, 2008, the Supreme Court of California voted 4-to-3 that a state law banning same-sex marriage constituted illegal discrimination because domestic partnerships were not a good enough substitute. In its decision, the court wrote that whatever term is used by the state must be granted to all couples who meet its requirements, whatever their gender. The court left open the possibility that another term could denote state-sanctioned unions so long as that term was used across the board.

Opponents quickly organized, and launched the Proposition 8 initiative campaign, asking voters to ban same-sex marriages. After an expensive and hard-fought campaign, the measure passed on Nov. 4, 2008, with 52 percent of the vote. (Florida and Arizona also passed bans at the same time.)

Groups who had fought Proposition 8 immediately filed suit to block it. On May 26, 2009, the state Supreme Court upheld the voter-approved ban but also decided that the estimated 18,000 gay couples who tied the knot before the law took effect would stay wed. But in August 2010, a federal judge in San Francisco struck down the ban, saying it unfairly targeted gay men and women, handing supporters of such unions a temporary victory in a legal battle that seems all but certain to be settled by the Supreme Court.

In February 2012, a federal appeals court upheld the judge’s ruling. During the period when same-sex marriages were legal in the state, nearly 18,000 couples married; their unions remain in place.

New Hampshire

An attempt to repeal New Hampshire’s same sex marriage law failed in March 2012 in the House of Representatives, with members of the Republican-dominated chamber voting 211-116 to kill the bill.

Some opponents of repeal cited the state’s “Live Free or Die” motto, saying they were uncomfortable revoking any right that had already been granted. Others did not see the point of embracing the repeal when Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, had vowed to veto it.

Had the repeal succeeded in both chambers, New Hampshire would have been the first state in which a legislature reversed itself on the issue of same-sex marriage. National gay-rights groups had invested heavily in fighting the bill, focusing on lawmakers with libertarian leanings.

New York

In December 2009, the New York State Senate voted down a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage. The vote followed more than a year of lobbying by gay rights organizations, who steered close to $1 million into New York legislative races to boost support for the measure.

But in June 2011, the tide turned when four senators who had voted against legalizing same-sex marriage reversed course, saying their constituents’ thinking on the socially divisive issue had evolved. Lawmakers voted on June 24 to legalize same-sex marriage, making New York the largest state where gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed.

The marriage bill, whose fate was uncertain until moments before the vote, was approved 33 to 29 in a packed but hushed Senate chamber. In the end, four members of the Republican majority joined all but one Democrat in the Senate in supporting the measure after an intense and emotional campaign aimed at the handful of lawmakers wrestling with a decision that divided their friends, their constituents and sometimes their own homes.

The unexpected victory had a clear champion: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat who pledged in 2010 to support same-sex marriage but whose early months in office were dominated by intense battles with lawmakers and some labor unions over spending cuts. Mr. Cuomo made same-sex marriage one of his top priorities for 2011 and deployed his top aide to coordinate the efforts of a half-dozen local gay-rights organizations whose feuding and disorganization had in part been blamed for the defeat two years ago.

The new coalition of same-sex marriage supporters brought in one of Mr. Cuomo’s trusted campaign operatives to supervise a $3 million television and radio campaign aimed at persuading several Republican and Democratic senators to drop their opposition. In New York, passage of the bill reflects rapidly evolving sentiment about same-sex unions. In 2004, according to a Quinnipiac poll, 37 percent of the state’s residents supported allowing same-sex couples to wed. In 2011, 58 percent of them did. Advocates moved aggressively to capitalize on that shift, flooding the district offices of wavering lawmakers with phone calls, e-mails and signed postcards from constituents who favored same-sex marriage, sometimes in bundles that numbered in the thousands.

The law went into effect on June 24, with hundreds of couples marrying within the first hours.

President Obama and Gay Marriage

The flurry of activity in early 2009 put pressure on President Obama to engage in a variety of gay issues. Mr. Obama has said he opposes same-sex marriage as a Christian but describes himself as a “fierce advocate of equality” for gay men and lesbians.

In February 2011, Mr. Obama directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act against lawsuits challenging it as unconstitutional. The 1996 law barred federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sent a letter to Congress on Feb. 23 saying that his department will take the position in court that the act should be struck down as a violation of same-sex couples’ rights to equal protection under the law.

The move was welcomed by gay-rights advocates, who had often criticized Mr. Obama for moving too slowly in his first two years in office to address such issues.

Same-Sex Marriage and Religion

Religious institutions have struggled with policies, privileges and rites regarding homosexuality, including whether or not to bless same-sex unions and whether or not gays and lesbians may hold positions of authority. There is no consensus among Christian faith groups on what the Bible says about homosexuality. Meanwhile, many individuals yearn for acceptance from their houses of worship.

In 2005, The United Church of Christ became the first mainline Christian denomination to support same-sex marriage officially when its general synod passed a resolution affirming “equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender.” The resolution was adopted in the face of efforts to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

In July 2009, at the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, delegates including bishops, clergy and lay members, voted to open “any ordained ministry” to gay men and lesbians, a move that could effectively undermine a moratorium on ordaining gay bishops that the church passed at its last convention in 2006. Delegates also voted not to stand in the way of dioceses that choose to bless the unions of same-sex couples. Both issues have roiled the church for years.

In May 2012, The United Methodist Church at its convention in Tampa, Fla. voted against changing long-contested language in its book of laws and doctrines that calls homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The delegates also defeated a compromise proposed by gay rights advocates, which said that Methodists could acknowledge their differences on homosexuality while still living together as a church.

In other historically mainline Protestant denominations in the United States, liberals have prevailed so far in the battles over homosexuality. In addition to The Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have voted in recent years to end their outright prohibitions on openly gay clergy members. But in the United Methodist Church, theological conservatives have held sway in the 40 years that the church has been debating the issue.

An influx of non-American members has bolstered the conservatives. The United Methodist Church is the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the United States, but its American membership has declined to about 7.8 million in recent years. Meanwhile, its membership abroad has grown to about 4.4 million, mostly in Africa and the Philippines, where homosexuality is not accepted.

Fundamentalist denominations have made significant efforts against homosexuality. The Southern Baptist Convention, for example, has expelled congregations that welcomed homosexuals to their memberships.

Reform Judaism, the largest of the main branches of Judaism, has for years allowed same-sex commitment ceremonies.

Islam prohibits same-sex marriage.

Demographics on Same-Sex Couples

In late August 2011, the Census Bureau released surprising data on where same-sex couples live in the United States. For example, the list of top cities did not include that traditional gay mecca, San Francisco. In fact, the city, which ranked third in 1990 and 11th in 2000, plummeted to No. 28 in 2010. And West Hollywood, once No. 1, dropped out of the top five.

According to the report, the No. 1-ranked town is Provincetown, Mass., at the tip of Cape Cod. Most surprising is how far same-sex couples have dispersed, moving from traditional enclaves and safe havens into farther-flung areas of the country. For instance, Pleasant Ridge, Mich., a suburb of Detroit; New Hope, Pa.; and Rehoboth Beach, Del., a beach town in southern Delaware, were in the top 10. All three had been popular destinations for gay people locally but had never ranked in the top 10.

The reordering reflects the growing influence of baby boomers, who are beginning to retire, and their life transitions are showing up in the data.