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Report finds few gay marriages where it's allowed:

Maggie Gallagher's Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, which opposes gay marriage, has just issued a new report finding that few gay couples are getting married in jurisdictions where gay marriage is permitted. Here's the summary of the findings from the report:

The highest estimate to date of the proportion of gays and lesbians who have married in any jurisdiction where it is available is 16.7% (Massachusetts). More typically, our survey of marriage statistics from various countries that legally recognize same-sex unions suggests that today between 1% and 5% of gays and lesbians have entered into a same-sex marriage. In the Netherlands, which has had same-sex marriage as a legal option for the longest period (over four years), between 2% and 6% of gays and lesbians have entered marriages.

The report derives these numbers by comparing the total number of same-sex marriages in a jurisdiction (based on government reports) to an estimate of the total number of adult homosexuals in the jurisdiction (based on survey data for the jurisdiction, if available, or a general estimate if not). The first number is precise; the second number is necessarily a rough estimate. I won't address here the accuracy of the data; I'll assume that the numbers for same-sex marriages are correct. While we could quibble over the estimates of gays in a given jurisdiction, the assumptions used seem fair. The report itself has a welcome "just the facts, ma'am" tone.

The report finds that there does not appear to have been a stampede of gay couples to the altar. It appropriately does not try to draw any grand conclusions from these findings, but the report will undoubtedly be used to make normative arguments in the debate over gay marriage.

Which way do these preliminary findings cut? On the one hand, the report gives some ammunition to opponents of gay marriage, who may argue that marriage will have little practical impact among gays. We should not "change the definition of marriage," they will argue, to benefit a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of the population. The legal benefits of marriage will remain unavailable to gays who don't marry, and the overwhelming majority of gays aren't marrying where it's allowed.

On the other hand, even assuming that marriage rates among gays remain low, there will still be legal, social, and other practical benefits to those gay couples who do choose to marry. To them marriage will be important regardless of whether others choose not to marry. As to the harm gay-marriage opponents claim will be produced, it's even harder to see how this tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of the population will cause any practical harm to existing marriages or to marriage as an institution. It's true that a low rate of marriage among gays would mean fewer benefits from recognizing same-sex marriages, but it would also mean correspondingly fewer potential harms caused by the existence of such marriages (such as the modeling of bad marital behavior by nonmonogamous gay male couples).

Of course, if you believe that a "change in the definition of marriage" to include same-sex couples is itself harmful to marriage then marriage will be worse off even if no gay couple actually gets married — but then you didn't need this report to make your argument. To me, this definitional fear has always seemed far too abstract to count for much.

There's an interesting correlation in the report not noted by the authors. Gay couples are most likely to get married in places where marriage culture itself is still relatively strong. Thus, the highest rates of marriage among gays have occurred in the United States (Massacusetts) and Canada, with much lower rates in Europe. It's just a correlation, but it's hard to believe that gay couples are unaffected by the respect accorded marriage generally in the societies in which they live. Marriage will be less attractive as an option to them if, as in Europe, it's already atrophied to the point that even opposite-sex couples are widely choosing unmarried cohabitation. That point was already reached in much of Europe before gay marriage became a reality in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain. For gay marriage to have a strong influence in the lives of gay citizens, marriage itself must have a strong influence in the lives of all citizens. For those of us who support gay marriage, this correlation suggests that we should also be concerned generally about preserving marriage.

More in another post to come on why marriage rates among gays may be especially low, at least initially.

Hoosier:
My grad-school roommate and his partner are *very assertively* in favor of gay marriage. But when I ask if they would get married, were they allowed, they both say probably not.

"Why?"

(Shrug.) "Things are fine as they are."

So the REAL reason gays don't marry in greater numbers: They are closet conservatives! And Burke/Oakeshott conservatives at that.
4.28.2006 4:22pm
MR (mail):
You make a good point about the correlation. Any study is incomplete if it doesn't correlate to the overall marriage rate in the jurisdiction being considered.

I think an extension of this study might also be to look at divorce rates. If, for example, the marriage rate is lower but the divorce rate is lower, that might say something different than if the marriage rate is lower but the divorce rate is higher.
4.28.2006 4:23pm
Humble Law Student:
Interesting post Professor Carpenter. One thing I love about you is that you aren't reflexively against reports coming from organizations opposed to your position. If only more advocates (on both sides) were more like you, something useful might actually be accomplished in the public debate.
4.28.2006 4:25pm
anon) (mail):
Can we have Ms. Gallagher back? She was a hoot, and reminded me of why girls are paid less.

It was hilarious listening to a non-lawyer try and make pseudo-legal arguments. It brightened otherwise dreary days.
4.28.2006 4:34pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Maybe gays just aren't interested in the so called monogomous life style,same as many heteros.
4.28.2006 4:34pm
davod (mail):
As I recall, there were several studies calling into question the numbers of gays in the population. Maybe the percentage mentioned is low because of an inflated number for the total gay population. A case where inflated numbers comes back to haunt the inflater.
4.28.2006 4:36pm
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):
The report is refreshingly free of righteous rhetoric and seems to offer fair estimates, but I don't understand why it doesn't offer stats on the prevalence of opposite-sex marriage, which seems highly relevant to their analysis. They seem to do a fair job of estimating the number of gays and lesbians in the population but as the report shows, variance in that number can have fairly big impacts on their conclusion.

I think breaking statistics down by age would be interesting to show how likely young gay/straight couples versus old gay/straight couples are to marry.

There are lots of reasons why gay couples would not get married even if they could. First, straight couples get a lot of pressure to get married whereas the mother breathing down her son's neck to tie the knot already is not all that common yet. Second, although gay couples have and raise kids, childrearing is a lot less common among same-sex couples and childrearing is one of the major impetuses for any couple to get married. Third, there is still stigma attached to homosexuality and same-sex relationships, so some gay couples are reluctant to draw more attention to themselves. Finally, and I think most importantly, same sex marriage in the U.S. gives some state-level rights within one state, but no federal-level benefits. By getting married in Massachusetts, gay gay couples are inviting the government into their relationship and letting the courts decide the circumstances of any later separation, but they're not getting much in the way of real government benefits in return for all that government involvement.
4.28.2006 4:39pm
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):
I meant to say "mother breathing down her gay son's neck"
4.28.2006 4:41pm
Martin Grant (mail):
The percentage of gay people (as calculated from the entire gay population) who choose to take advantage of gay marriage is irrelevant to whether they should have this right or not.

What is the percentage of ALL americans who ever express their 5th amendment rights against self recrimination? (again like those numbers above, against total population). If it is small enough should we revoke the 5th amendment? Whether I ever have need of this right or not, I feel much more comfortable knowing it's there.
4.28.2006 4:44pm
Henry Lewis (mail) (www):
There's a couple of problems with using a study of this type:

First, what percentage of the gay population getting married would be sufficient? 30% 50%? 70%? What percentage of adults in MA are married? My best guess, using the last census, was about 55%.

Also, right now, Marriage in Mass is not the same as 'straight' marriage. There are no federal tax or other benefits, and you can't take it with you -- if you move out of Mass you lose any rights associated with marriage.

When gay marriage is on the same legal equivalent as straight marriage, maybe a comparison will be in order.
4.28.2006 4:45pm
Rational Actor (mail):
Davod - who is being haunted, and how?
4.28.2006 4:51pm
David Matthews (mail):
I am not surprised at the lack of a stampede toward marriage. Marriage is a big step, even for committed couples who have been together a long time, and even for committed couples who have "seen themselves" as married.

And, as Henry Lewis points out, above:

"When gay marriage is on the same legal equivalent as straight marriage, maybe a comparison will be in order."

And I might even add, "several years after..." giving the couples plenty of time to decide.

Also, not being too familiar with gay culture, I'm not sure whether the stereotype of males' fear of legal commitment applies as well as it seems to for straight males, but, if so, trying to get two men to BOTH be ready to tie the knot at the same time would be worse than herding cats. In this case, we might see a larger increase in marriages among lesbian couples....

As to what it implies for arguments for or against legalization, I'm A) not sure it implies anything, and B) sure that some from each side will see it as further proof that they are correct.
4.28.2006 4:59pm
agesilaus:
It seems to me that there is another possible interpretation of the data. Since the size of the gay population is not known and it is to the political advatage of the gay power structure to exagerate their size, then there is a possibilty that the gay population is much smaller than claimed. Perhaps a substantial portion is getting married but the base population is smaller.
4.28.2006 5:06pm
jvarisco (www):
What is the percentage of heterosexual people in marriages in the same places?

Of course, none of this is a reason against gay marriage. But that's not to say that means other objections to expanding the definition of marriage are any less valid.
4.28.2006 5:10pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
One of the criticisms of recognizing gay marriage was the claim (which seems to have been borne out) that relatively few gay people are interested in the sort of long-term committment that marriage entails. Now, even if true, this wouldn't be an argument against gay marriage. But it does suggest that the claim that gay people are just like everyone else, except for their sexual orientation, isn't really accurate.

There are a number of data points that show that homosexuals are, on average, different from straight people. Let me emphasize on average. They are more likely to vote Democrat and subscribe to liberal or leftist ideas--but there are conservative and libertarian homosexuals.

You think life is hard for a homosexual in an overwhelmingly straight culture? I used to correspond with a guy who was a gay conservative who shot in the Camp Perry high power rifle matches. He had to mind what he said that might expose his sexuality when he was hanging out with fellow gunnies, and he had to mind what he said about politics when he was hanging out with his fellow homosexuals.
4.28.2006 5:26pm
xx:
Maybe I'm missing something basic, but why are the numbers from Massachusetts "low?"

If 16.7% of the homosexual population is married, that means that more than one out of every six gay people have had a wedding in the past two years since it became legal.

Is that low? Have one out of every six heterosexual people gotten married in the past two years?
4.28.2006 5:28pm
xx:
agesilaus: The study used survey data to estimate the number of homosexuals in a jurisdiction. Under your theory, a large group of heterosexuals would have needed to lie and claim they were gay in order to artificially inflate the population.

It's not as if the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy asked a random group of gay people to guess how many other people were gay.
4.28.2006 5:32pm
pp:
My partner and I have hesitated about getting married in MA because we do not know if "Marriage" will last.

It must still pass another constitutional convention and a state wide vote.

If Gay Marriage dies...will there be 5000 marriage certificates torn up?? I have a feeling the percentage would be somewhat higher if we knew it would be "forever".
4.28.2006 5:32pm
EricK:
On the subject of the exact percentage of gays, you have to factor in bisexuals as well. Also I do believe that there are people to choose to be gay, or I should say engage in homosexual activity simply for the sexual gratification.

I would guess that homosexual men that are born that way are the most likely to get married.
4.28.2006 5:37pm
U.Va. 1L (mail):
One of the criticisms of recognizing gay marriage was the claim (which seems to have been borne out) that relatively few gay people are interested in the sort of long-term committment that marriage entails.

Because of the illegality of gay marriage just about everywhere and its very recent legalization in the few states where it is okay, I think the sample size is far too small to claim that anything "seems to have been borne out."
4.28.2006 5:38pm
Archon (mail):
Maybe the answer lies in the institution of marriage itself. Why do men and women get married? It legitimizes a union making it socially acceptable to have children and a family (yes, I am aware not all heterosexuals who marry have families or children, but the vast majority do).

Homosexuals are not biologically capable of having children (that is without the intervention of modern medicine). So why form a monogamous pair bond if you can never reproduce? There is absolutely no biological need for it (and very little social need).

I imagine some homosexuals choose to marry because they want to enter into a life long partner without children (just like some heterosexuals do), but I imagine that among all people that choose not to have a family this is a small number (for both homosexuals and heterosexuals).

If you dig deeper, I bet you would find that most homosexuals, if given the choice to marry (and have full state and federal benefits), most would still choose not do so. Among those that did, you would probably find that the primary reason is because they want to raise children (either through adoption or other means) and the second would be that some truly want a lifelong monogamous partnership. But, you would still find the vast majority of homosexuals would choose never to marry.
4.28.2006 5:42pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

The study used survey data to estimate the number of homosexuals in a jurisdiction.
In some jurisdictions, yes, but not in others:
Because state-level (or province-level)
estimates of the gay population are not
available,7 we use national survey data to
estimate the gay and lesbian population in
Canadian provinces and in Massachusetts.
The issue is that once upon a time, the figure of "10%" was thrown around by political activists as a way of inflating the numbers to make politicians afraid to say "No."
4.28.2006 5:45pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
EricK writes:

O

n the subject of the exact percentage of gays, you have to factor in bisexuals as well.
The surveys include both homosexuals and bisexuals. It is fairly common to use survey questions that ask if you have had genital contact for the purpose of sexual gratification with members of your sex in the last year, last five years, or ever. Surveys from a number of countries give surprisingly similar numbers--except for Britain, where the insanity of same-sex boarding schools seems to cause a lot of teenagers to end up having sex with other boys, but never after they get out of school.
4.28.2006 5:49pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Because of the illegality of gay marriage just about everywhere and its very recent legalization in the few states where it is okay, I think the sample size is far too small to claim that anything "seems to have been borne out."
When you have entire states and provinces where gay marriage is recognized, the sample size isn't small. I'm not even sure that the claim that gay marriage is stigmatized is much of an explanation--I would expect that relatively few gay couples are pretending to their neighbors, "Oh, we're just roommates." This isn't 1960; there is some discomfort and disapproval of homosexuality in some circles, but the only time that I ever hear real genuine hatred, it is from men who were sexually abused as children. (These are people who would call me a dangerous liberal on this subject.)
4.28.2006 5:54pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Anon writes:

Can we have Ms. Gallagher back? She was a hoot, and reminded me of why girls are paid less.
And you wonder where the stereotype that gay men hate women comes from....
4.28.2006 5:56pm
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):
Clayton, Social stigma of lesser degrees than violent hatred can have a significant effect on behavior. The fact that employers or clients or other people who exercise influence on our lives may discriminate against gays and lesbians may lead some gays and lesbians to be reluctant to make very public displays of their relationships.
4.28.2006 6:04pm
xx:
"The issue is that once upon a time, the figure of "10%" was thrown around by political activists as a way of inflating the numbers to make politicians afraid to say "No.""

I find it exceedingly unlikely that a think tank opposed to gay marriage relied on gay activists for their data.
4.28.2006 6:15pm
xx:
"Anon writes:

Can we have Ms. Gallagher back? She was a hoot, and reminded me of why girls are paid less.

And you wonder where the stereotype that gay men hate women comes from....
"

Yeah, cause "Anonymous" is SUCH a gay name.
4.28.2006 6:16pm
Blar (mail) (www):
One thing that they really should have done is to break down the marriage rates by age. My guess is that the rate at which gays have gotten married is lower among those who are older (say, over 40) and significantly higher than what they reported among those in peak marriage years (late 20s or so). So the total percentage of gay adults who are married is going to be relatively low, since most gay adults didn't have a chance to get married when they were young. In the long run, the generation shift will erase this demographic effect, so the marriage rates will climb up even without cultural changes.

The data are very limited for trends (since the Netherlands seems to be the only place that legalized same-sex marriage before 2003), but in the one place where they exist they show a steady increase in the number of same sex couples who are married even after the initial marriage rush has faded. Using their data and methods, here are the marriage rates for homosexual adults in the Netherlands at the end of each year since same sex marriage was legalized in April 2001:

2001 1.9%
2002 3.3%
2003 4.5%
2004 5.4%
2005 6.3%

The annual increase in the marriage rate looks to be steadying at over 0.8%.
4.28.2006 6:16pm
gerry (mail):
B O R I N G
4.28.2006 6:17pm
davod (mail):
Rational:

The Haunted are the homosexual groups and their supporters who for a long time have pushed the theory that at least ten percent of the population is homosexual. This supported the argument that homosexuals were a significant percentage of the population.

Now we have figures that show only a small number of homosexuals have married.

If the figures they were pushing were indeed inflated then the percentage homosexulas now married may be in fact higher.

They are haunted by their earlier deception.
4.28.2006 6:23pm
Hans Gruber (www):
"One of the criticisms of recognizing gay marriage was the claim (which seems to have been borne out) that relatively few gay people are interested in the sort of long-term committment that marriage entails. Now, even if true, this wouldn't be an argument against gay marriage."

No, I think it's a valid criticism, for a couple of reasons.

First, we would be taking a the risk of redefining an important social institution for the benefit of very few individuals.

Second, the risk of fraudulent marriages--marriages to obtain insurance, etc--would be great compared to the benefit of the valid marriage--marriages for love or to raise a family.

From a cost-benefit analysis, I think the criticism holds.
4.28.2006 7:18pm
Cal Lanier (mail) (www):
Financial incentives for straight marriage are considerably higher than they are for gay marriage. Would straight couples marry if they didn't get substantial tax breaks (both income and estate), additional benefits (Social Security, employment benefits) and (in the case of women) community property?

I'm not sure what the benefits are like in Holland, but certainly, the gay marriage bennies in the US don't come close to providing the financial incentives that straight marriage does.
4.28.2006 7:43pm
byomtov (mail):
I don't think these figure are particularly low. The US marriage rate is 7.8 per 1000 population, so 1.56% of the population gets married every year. Rates are lower in Belgium and the Netherlands. So the percentages of gays marrying given in the report do strike me as significantly low.
4.28.2006 7:43pm
Blar (mail) (www):
Anyone interested in seeing the trend in the same-sex marriage rate among gay men and lesbians in the Netherlands can look at the graph here. That shows the data that I posted in my last comment, and breaks it down into male and female rates. (That graph is attached to this blog post.)
4.28.2006 7:43pm
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):
Hans,

Statistically, few Americans choose to marry outside their race but I think its worthwhile to have redefined marriage for the benefit of those individuals who do want to marry outside their race. I think its even more important to allow gay people the same right, however few of us there are who want to get married. Afterall, heterosexuals can marry someone of their own race more feasibly and honestly than gays and lesbians can marry someone of the opposite sex.

Fraudulent marriages are a red herring. Show us statistics indicating that lots of people get married to give their opposite-sex friends health insurance, let alone same-sex friends. The same argument was raised in opposition to domestic partner benefits--that gay people would sign up their AIDS-infected friends as domestic partners so they could get health insurance. That has not proved to be a problem.
4.28.2006 7:45pm
Hans Gruber (www):
Loving v. Virginia didn't "redefine" marriage.
4.28.2006 8:14pm
Elais:
Archon


I imagine some homosexuals choose to marry because they want to enter into a life long partner without children (just like some heterosexuals do), but I imagine that among all people that choose not to have a family this is a small number (for both homosexuals and heterosexuals


Oh, You're an expert on why homosexuals do or do not choose to marry becase you have a great 'imagination'?
4.28.2006 9:25pm
Joseph Hovsep (mail):
Loving v. Virginia didn't "redefine" marriage.

Leon Bazile, the trial judge would beg to differ:


Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
4.28.2006 9:30pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"Financial incentives for straight marriage are considerably higher than they are for gay marriage."

I have never heard of anyone getting married for the pure financial benefits of it. In fact, given the laws of most states, if you divorce the "marital assets" are typically split 50-50 without some kind of prenuptial agreement (which are rare outside of places like Hollywood). So marriage entails a significant financial risk of losing half of what you own, should a divorce occur. I have to think the risks outweigh the benefits, from a purely financial perspective.

Anyway, I think it's just wrong to say that heterosexual couples marry more than gay couples because of the financial benefits. I don't think that other heterosexual couples even consider financial "advantages" of marriage when they do, in fact, marry. It sounds patently ridiculous.
4.28.2006 9:47pm
xx:
"In fact, given the laws of most states, if you divorce the "marital assets" are typically split 50-50 without some kind of prenuptial agreement"

That's kind of the point. A guarantee of a 50-50 split makes the institutional arrangement more attractive for a partner who is considering staying at home, working a reduced schedule, forgoing additional education, etc.

If an unmarried couple choose to raise a child, chances are that one of them will bear a disproportionate burden in terms of lost opportunities, such as job opportunities and work experince s/he never obtained because s/he stayed at home, or took a few years off, or worked part-time, etc.

If, for example, a woman wants to leave her job when she becomes pregnant and stay at home until her child is in kindergarten, the 50-50 split of marriage provides a massive benefit over remaining unmarried. It's like a low-cost insurance policy against something that would otherwise be incredibly risky behavior.
4.28.2006 10:00pm
ly (mail):
I don't think that other heterosexual couples even consider financial "advantages" of marriage when they do, in fact, marry. It sounds patently ridiculous.


Must disagree with you there. My boyfriend and I recently decided to get married in part because of the clear financial advantages. There's a significant disparity in our incomes, which means we are jointly paying more tax than we would have to if married. Also, I have health insurance through my job and he doesn't, another big financial incentive to marry. Not, it isn't the most romantic thing, but this definitely affected our decision making.
4.28.2006 10:52pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"Not, it isn't the most romantic thing, but this definitely affected our decision making."

It's possible that I do, in fact, speak for myself then. The only "financial" thing I'd consider when weighing marriage is NOT whether marriage puts me into a different tax bracket, but whether the girl I'm considering marrying would divorce me and get half of my assets (ie: whether she's a materialist, or if she believes in marriage).
4.28.2006 11:06pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

On the subject of the exact percentage of gays, you have to factor in bisexuals as well. Also I do believe that there are people to choose to be gay, or I should say engage in homosexual activity simply for the sexual gratification.


Actually, it depends on how you define "bisexual." Only those bisexuals who are fully attracted to members of both sexes (the Kinsey 3s) or something close to it, really have a "choice" in the matter. And those are few and far between. Most of those "surveys" identifying "gays and bisexuals" measure from 3-6 on the Kinsey scale. And that probably is somewhere between only 3-5% of the population.


Surveys from a number of countries give surprisingly similar numbers--except for Britain, where the insanity of same-sex boarding schools seems to cause a lot of teenagers to end up having sex with other boys, but never after they get out of school.


And just about all of those those young men in Britain who have sex with other young men, but who, for the most part, live "straight" lives for most of their lives are Kinsey 1s and 2s (or somewhere between 0-3 on the Kinsey scale). And if we include that class of folk into the definition of "bisexual" then the numbers of "gays and bisexuals" exceed 10%, probably by far.
4.28.2006 11:26pm
Randy R. (mail):
So I guess Maggie G. would be happier if MORE gays got married? Everyone on this thread would agree that if more gays got married, then there would be a stronger argument for allowing gay marriage? Is that what I'm hearing here?
4.29.2006 12:27am
Hans Gruber (www):
Joesph,

The quote you provided conceded that inter-racial marriages are in fact marriages. No redefinition needed to occur; the Supreme Court ruled that criminalizing marriage between the races was unconstitutional, it didn't change the definition or the structure of marriage at all.

Trying to piggyback on the civil rights struggle will fail. Whatever the merits of gay marriage, it's just not the same as race.

Can't the proponents of gay marriage construct their own arguments and give their own reasons rather than rely on affiliation with a righteous cause?
4.29.2006 12:44am
Sydney Carton (www):
Of course not, Randy. At least, you shouldn't be hearing it from ME. So-called "gay" marriage completely perverts the idea of marriage. Like most Americans I am thoroughly opposed to it, no matter how many gays pretend that they are "married." Irrespective of the state trying to tell me otherwise, gays cannot marry each other and will never be "married" for the simple reason that since the beginning of Time, marriage is between a man and a woman, period.
4.29.2006 12:46am
Joseph Hovsep (mail):
Hans: Can't the proponents of gay marriage construct their own arguments and give their own reasons rather than rely on affiliation with a righteous cause?

Of course race and sexual orientation are very different with different histories. That doesn't mean racial discrimination is irrelevant to sexual orientation discrimination. The gay rights movement does not rely primarily on analogy to other kinds of status discrimination, as a brief perusal of any of the gay rights websites will reveal.

My point was very specific and in response to your argument that the fact that few gays take the opportunity to get married is justification for not allowing any of them them to get married. I think your reasoning is weak, and the weakness of your argument is more obvious when applied to the validity of bans on interracial marriage.

I guess we also differ on the definition of "redefine." In Virginia, the legislature had to eliminate restrictions on who was allowed to get married. The changes had little effect on the way the laws of Virginia were interpreted in other contexts, except to allow these new marriages. And few people actually took advantage of their new-found oportunity to marry someone of another race. The same is true when applied to same sex marriage.
4.29.2006 8:15am
ly (mail):
The only "financial" thing I'd consider when weighing marriage is NOT whether marriage puts me into a different tax bracket, but whether the girl I'm considering marrying would divorce me and get half of my assets (ie: whether she's a materialist, or if she believes in marriage).

Whether she's a materialist! Hunh.

Well, I must say that you've outdone me here in terms of lack of romance. At least I'm getting married in order to maximize the benefits to me and my partner as a couple.

Sounds like you're going to have to for a prenuptial agreement -- what other way do you have of ensuring the non-materialistic outlook of your future spouse? Though pre-nups to me seem like another way of saying that you don't believe in marriage.
4.29.2006 12:53pm
ly (mail):
The only "financial" thing I'd consider when weighing marriage is NOT whether marriage puts me into a different tax bracket, but whether the girl I'm considering marrying would divorce me and get half of my assets (ie: whether she's a materialist, or if she believes in marriage).

Whether she's a materialist! Hunh.

Well, I must say that you've outdone me here in terms of lack of romance. At least I'm getting married in order to maximize the benefits to me and my partner as a couple.

Sounds like you're going to have to for a prenuptial agreement -- what other way do you have of ensuring the non-materialistic outlook of your future spouse? Though pre-nups to me seem like another way of saying that you don't believe in marriage.
4.29.2006 12:53pm
Rucka:
It's only been a few years. What percentage of heteros get married within a year or two of their being legally allowed? Or do most hetero couples wait a couple years before they get hitched?

What percentge of inter-racial couples got married in America within the first two years of being legally allowed? If it was a very low percentage of couple, as I suspect it may have been and still may be, does that mean they shouldn't have been allowed? Does it make any of their marriages less valid or the couples any less married if only a few got married?

Add to that the their is are active and highly visible attempts to undo and demonize existing marriages of single sex couples, many may be taking a wait and see approach. It doesn't mean they are less committed couples or less interested in getting married, they may, unlike heteros, actually be sure it won't be undone down the road...

By Maggie's standards (and I use the term lightly) quantity equals quality.
4.29.2006 1:01pm
xx:
"Irrespective of the state trying to tell me otherwise, gays cannot marry each other and will never be "married" for the simple reason that since the beginning of Time, marriage is between a man and a woman, period."

Assuming, of course, that "Time" starts well after the numerous Bible stories that contadict this rule took place.
4.29.2006 1:06pm
PeterH:
Interesting that once again, that idea of "redefining marriage" comes up.

I know that my particular definition of "redefine" includes the fact that something has actually changed -- which is not the case in allowing gay people equal access to marriage.

There is not a single change that has been proposed, much less implemented, to marriage for opposite-sex couples. For the population that currently has access to marriage, allowing gay people to marry doesn't change a single thing in the slightest way. Other than for the same-sex couples themselves, there is no change to who can marry, how they can marry, who can marry them, what benefits and obligations they take on, or how they can terminate the marriage if they so choose.

How in the world is that a redefinition in any way? There is a lot of talk about "the institution of marriage" but the fact is that people don't enter an institution made up of all the other people who are currently married, to be affected by those other people. Actual people enter into a marriage with only one other person, and are not in the slightest affected (legally or financially, at least) by the way in which anyone else conducts their marriage.

A "traditional" couple (whatever that means) does not have a single aspect of their marriage altered by the fact that their straight neighbors might choose to tie the knot and live their lives differently, whether in their choices of having children, attending church, having extramarital relations, or whatever.

So, why, suddenly, does it even affect, much less "redefine" their marriage if the gay couple on the other side can get married.

The single most common reason stated for denying gay people the right to marry one another is the affect that redefining marriage will have on everyone else. But seriously, what changes for straight people?
4.29.2006 1:16pm
PeterH:

Irrespective of the state trying to tell me otherwise, gays cannot marry each other and will never be "married" for the simple reason that since the beginning of Time, marriage is between a man and a woman, period.


BS. Even if you use the Bible as your source, the Bible includes a whole lot of polygamous marriages. Hardly "a man and a woman, period."
4.29.2006 1:20pm
ly (mail):
But seriously, what changes for straight people?

The solidity of the position that gay people are abnormal (in the sense of wrong, unnatural, immoral, not in the sense of different from the norm). For those straight people who feel this way, the ever increasing social acceptance of homosexuality is very threatening.

That's how they can argue that gay people do not deserve equal treatment before the law and thus access to the benefits of marriage. In their minds, gay people are either psychiatrically ill or spiritually fallen or perhaps an error of nature. Thus, they can justly be denied equality.
4.29.2006 2:46pm
Chimaxx (mail):
I'm trying to figure out how these numbers can be considered low. In the brief, Gallagher and her coauthor write of Massachusetts: "assuming the proportion of gay and lesbian people in Massachusetts is the same as the national average (2.3% of men and 1.3% of women), and assuming all the marriages recorded in Massachusetts are Massachusetts citizens, 16.7% of gay and lesbian individuals had entered into same sex marriages. Using the more generous 5% estimate of the proportion of the adult population who are gay or lesbian, 5.9% had married through the end of 2005."

Now, going online, I only find reliable statiastics through the end of 2004 (here and here). After subtracting the same-sex marriages from the total marriages in 2004, and assuming that half of the 2003 marriages happened in the last half of the year, and using Gthe same sets of assumptions about the homosexual population to determine the size of the adult heterosexual population, it turns out that during the 18 months leading up to December 31, 2004, between 1.11% and 1.16% of adult heterosexuals got married.

How is 5.9-16.7% small when compared with 1.11-1.16%?
4.29.2006 6:23pm
Hans Gruber (www):
"I guess we also differ on the definition of "redefine.""

I guess we do. It's pretty ridiculous to argue that Loving "redefined" the institution of marriage. It's patently true that same-sex marriage does. Again, nobody questioned whether inter-racial marriages were marriages, they questioned whether they should be legal. That alone demonstrates the difference.

"The gay rights movement does not rely primarily on analogy to other kinds of status discrimination, as a brief perusal of any of the gay rights websites will reveal."

Really? It's the fallback position. Always. I don't know how many times I've discussed this and it always ends up as "you're just like the racists who didn't want to have inter-racial marriage!
4.29.2006 6:45pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Sorry. I just realized my back-of-envelope calculations for mixed-sex marriages in Massachusetts were off by half (dividing relevant marriages into relevant population without doubling for individuals married). So to correct the number, and using Gallagher's terminology, assuming all the marriages recorded in Massachusetts are Massachusetts citizens, between 2.22% and 2.32% of heterosexual adults had entered into mixed-sex marriages in the 18 months up to and including December 2004.

The same-sex marriage rates still don't look bad, in comparison.
4.29.2006 6:55pm
Hans Gruber (www):
The idea that there is no significant difference between same-sex and traditional marriage rests upon the demonstrably false premise that two men (or women) are perfect substitutes for a man and a woman.

Because most recognize that there are, in fact, many differences between the sexes (and these differences are innate), the claim that a same sex marriage is identical to a traditional marriage is manifestly false. Two fathers is not equal to a mother and a father.

Does this difference matter? I think it does. Gender diversity in the rearing of children is an important attribute of the traditional marriage, and entitles it to special treatment. It's not bigoted to believe that society should encourage and promote traditional marriage so that as many children as possible have both a mother and a father. It's not irrational to prefer what has worked well to what is unproven and untested.

Perhaps in the future social science will prove that gay couples raise children just as well or maybe even better than heterosexuals. But what's the rush? Oh and spare me the tired refrain that "marriage has nothing to do with children." The state's involvement in marriage has everything to do with children.
4.29.2006 9:01pm
Randy R. (mail):
So then, Hans, if a gay couple promised to not have children, you would then have no problem with them getting married?

What about children of gay parents today who cannot get married? What do you suggest we should do to the kids? Take them away from their parents, the same-sex couple? Give them to whom?

If having a mother and father is what society should encourage, then what should society to do the single mother or single father raising children? Try to get them married?

And finally, if the father beats the mother and neglects his kids, should they stay married, or are the children better off if the mother decides to divorce the SOB? Seems to me you are arguing that a bad marriage is better then no marriage for the kids.
4.30.2006 3:21am
Hans Gruber (www):
Randy,

I have no problem with gay couples getting "married" and living happily ever after. I encourage them to do this if it brings them happiness, as I hope it would.

But I do not believe the state needs to concern itself with this relationship. So I separate marriage and the state's involvement in marriage. I defend the right of gays to practice sex how they want and I defend their right to live together and "marry" if they so wish. The issue of how the state treats that relationship is where you and I part ways.

Nothing should be done to single parents that isn't already done. The state in providing support and some special privileges to married couples, however, already encourages single parents to get married. So, yes, society is trying to get single parents married.

I would never advocate removing a child from their home unless there was evidence of abuse; but that is a separate question from what sort of family structure the state should support and give its blessing. It's not inconsistent to believe that only traditional marriages should be recognized by the state and also believe that children are best left in their homes than ripped away and put into foster care.

At least with current available evidence, I believe it's rational to desire as many children as possible be raised in homes with a mother and a father. To further this ideal, it is reasonable to recognize and support traditional marriage exclusively.

Lastly, some marriages need to end in divorce for the childrens' benefit as well as the parents'. I have never implied anything to the contrary. There is, however, an abundance of social science data supporting the propostion that children benefit immensely from having both a mother and a father. Thus, it may be true that for some unhappy marriages continuing might in fact be better for the children even if it's worse for the parents. Many couples choose this path and divorce when the children are grown.
4.30.2006 6:13am
PeterH:
Very slick evasion Hans.

The question wasn't about whether gay relationships are or are not identical to straight ones. Of course they aren't. There are probably far more similarities than differences, and even the question presupposes that all straight relationships are similar enough to be put into the same group for discussion purposes -- which is a stretch.

The question was how are straight marriages in any way affected by gay marriage? The frequent contention is about the "damage" or even "destruction" of "the institution" of marriage -- and nobody has yet to even explain a single EFFECT, much less whether that specific effect is positive or negative.

You state "Because most recognize that there are, in fact, many differences between the sexes (and these differences are innate), the claim that a same sex marriage is identical to a traditional marriage is manifestly false."

But lets roll with that deeply flawed little idea for a moment (the flaw is that all STRAIGHT marriages are identical to each other.)

Let's, for the sake of argument only, posit that every single gay marriage will be significantly different in some major way from all the straight marriages. That gay people will all be doing something, within the identical set of legal structures, benefits, and obligations, utterly distinct from what all the straight people are doing.

So what? Assuming that that gay population and the straight population are distinct, what is the slightest affect on straight marriage? If you are going to try to head down the path that straight people will decide to conduct their marriages the way they see the gay ones doing, in order to have an argument, you have to show some choice that their gay neighbor's legal marriage gives them that their gay neighbor's non-recognized relationship doesn't currently give them. (We can ignore ANYTHING that their straight neigbors are already doing, since you are only blaming gay people for the destruction of marriage, not what straight people are already up to.)

Let's assume that each and every straight couple wants to be married in church, be monogamous, bear and raise children produced by them without contraception, cherish, honor and obey each other until death do them part. How does a gay marriage next door affect that, much less destroy that?

Even assuming that each and every straight couple disapproves of the way that their gay neighbors live, again, so what? Why does that destroy their marriage rather than reaffirm for them that they got it right?

And in a thread about how few gay people seem to be doing it, full of people who insist that we may never be doing it in large numbers, how in the world does this become such a huge, destructive force?

This strikes me as absurd as trying to pass laws saying that my neighbors cannot paint the inside of their house blue because I want to be free to paint mine brown. Other people's choices within the same set of rules don't automatically inhibit my ability to make my own choices.

If gay marriage has even the slightest effect on straight marriages, it will be because individual straight people made their own choices for their own reasons, not because of some imaginary external threat posed by gay people. And those are all choices that they already have under the current system, which is not changing for them in the slightest.

Are straight people really that fragile? Are you? My parents certainly weren't.
4.30.2006 9:41am
raj (mail):
Aside from the fact that Gallagher is a political hack paid by the Bush Administration to, in part, oppose equal rights for gay people--the analog of the political hack "Dr" Judith Reisman paid by the Reagan Administration's morality police--what does the percentage of gay people who successfully sought out equal marriage rights have to do with whether those rights are to be extended to gay people?

I have heard Gallagher on right-wing talk radio here in Boston discussing equal marriage rights for gay people, and she's a loon. She always reverts to the "it's bad for the children" mantra, ignoring the fact that gay people can have children irrespective of whether they are married. And that nobody is required to have children--or even intend to have children--in order to get married.

Why Carpenter gives her the time of day is beyond me.
4.30.2006 11:35am
raj (mail):
Hans Gruber 4.30.2006 5:13am

But I do not believe the state needs to concern itself with this relationship. So I separate marriage and the state's involvement in marriage.

Your belief is largely irrelevant. Since marriage involves legal rights and obligations, the state is, and will continue to be, involved in marriage. It really is as simple as that.

I don't know whether or not you are German--your handle is a German name--but if you are German, you should be aware that, in Germany, a couple is not married unless and until they appear before a Beamter--a government official. The couple can have a ceremony in a church, but the church ceremony alone does not a marriage make.
4.30.2006 11:40am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I don't know whether or not you are German--your handle is a German name--but if you are German, you should be aware that, in Germany, a couple is not married unless and until they appear before a Beamter--a government official. The couple can have a ceremony in a church, but the church ceremony alone does not a marriage make.
In the eyes of the government, a church ceremony does not make a marriage. If you worship the government, then I guess it is very important to have their approval on your long-term relationship.
5.1.2006 12:25pm
raj (mail):
Clayton E. Cramer 5.1.2006 11:25am

I suppose that some Germans might want to engage in a marriage ceremony that would be legally meaningless anywhere, but I suspect that most would consider it hinausgeschmissenes Gelt (money thrown away).
5.2.2006 1:00pm