So why does there seem to be correlation but no causal linkage? The answer is that there appear to be many other related factors at play. Untangling the correlation between gay marriage and divorce rates means examining other interrelated demographic factors that are associated with a state’s politics as well as its residents’ propensity to divorce. Two chief explanatory variables among these are marriage age and education.

According to D’Vera Cohn, a senior writer at the Pew Research Center, there is a link between education, marriage age, and divorce rates. “From what I understand from the research, people who take the time and have the discipline to complete a college degree or more advanced education­­­–those personality traits are also useful in sustaining a marriage,” she says.

Some studies have also shown rates of higher education to be related to gay marriage support. A 2009 University of Florida study, for example, found that for every additional 1 percent of a given county’s population with a bachelor’s degree, there was a nearly equal decrease in support for an amendment that would have enacted a gay marriage ban.