pageok
pageok
pageok
Why so few gay marriages?:

Assuming the new report I discussed earlier today is correct that relatively few gay couples are getting married where it's allowed, why is that the case?

The report itself suggests a couple of possible directions marriage rates among gay couples might go in the future:

Of course our experience with same-sex marriage is in its infancy. The small fraction of gays and lesbians who have currently married may change as cultural mores and expectations in the gay community shift, as some commentators have predicted. Or as others have suggested, once the novelty wears off, same-sex marriage may prove a decreasingly popular personal choice in the gay and lesbian community.

Of these two directions - - an increasing demand as marriage culture takes hold in gay communities or a continued low (or falling) demand as the excitement of having a new right subsides - - which seems more likely?

The answer, I think, depends on why we think marriage rates among gays might initially be low. Every gay person on this planet right now has lived almost her whole life without the prospect of ever marrying the person she loves. Most gay people in most parts of the world probably still think the prospects for this are very dim where they live, despite what's happened in Europe, Canada, and Massachusetts. Relationships have been started, plans have been made, worldviews and political ideologies have been formed, based on the absence of marriage as an option. Suddenly, for a few people in a few isolated jurisdictions, marriage is now a possibility for the first time in their lives. While some gay couples can be expected to jump the broom right away, it's not surprising that many others will need more time to assess this new possibility.

This is so for several reasons. First, the idea of marriage is still novel in gay culture and among gay individuals. As the report suggests, "novelty" can produce excitement -- but it can also produce fear, specifically fear of the unknown. Britney Spears aside, I doubt many people get married for the novelty of it. Marriage is a huge legal and social commitment. There's less experience with marriage in gay communities, and thus more uncertainty about what it means in practical terms. People who have never even imagined it would be a prospect in their lives will be understandably hesitant.

Second, without the social encouragement and support that marriage provides for relationship formation, there are probably relatively fewer long-term and stable gay couples to begin with, and thus relatively fewer couples who would immediately demand marriages. Those couples secure enough and invested enough in their relationships can start taking advantage of the option right away, if that's what they want, and they're likely to be the first couples to get married. But for other couples, the availability of marriage means staying the course or embarking on a new one. As new relationships are formed under a regime of marriage, these couples will eventually reach the point where someone pops the question, "Will you marry me?" All of this suggests there will be an adjustment period of some duration while more marriage-inclined couples form and while marriage becomes a comfortable and normatively appealing option to them.

Third, reinforcing the fear of the unknown is the fact that many gay people have actually constructed an oppositional identity for themselves partly based on their exclusion from marriage. Excluded from marriage, they have made a virtue of necessity: "You won't let us marry? We don't want to get married anyway." This oppositional identity takes many forms in the writings of queer theorists and in the things even ordinary gay people can be heard to say when the subject of marriage arises. One hears expressions of this oppositional identity like, "We don't need marriage with all its patriarchal and heterosexist trappings." Or: "I don't want to mimic straight people." Or: "Marriage is such a mess, with 50% divorce rates, why would we want to join it?" Or: "Just give us the benefits of marriage and you can keep the word." There's a stubborn pride, born of necessity, in being on the outside of a group that won't let you in. Some people will retain this oppositional identity no matter how much time passes. But for others, primarily those younger people whose identities are formed in an environment where marriage is an option, oppositional identity of this sort should fade. Mainstreaming effects like this are what many queer theorists fear about the coming of gay marriage.

I doubt that marriage rates among gays will ever equal marriage rates among heterosexuals, primarily because gay couples will be less likely to raise children. Even after marriage culture settles in, straight couples will be most likely to get married, followed by lesbian couples (who are more likely to raise children than gay males), followed by gay-male couples. But a disparity in marriage rates among heterosexual and homosexual couples is not an argument in itself against recognizing same-sex marriages.

Whether there's a rising or continued low demand for gay marriage over time does not necessarily answer the question whether same-sex marriages should be recognized. A rising demand for gay marriages that are causing harm to marriage would be terrible. A low demand for gay marriages that are at least helping the few couples who want it, without hurting marriage itself, would be fine.

Whatever our views of gay marriage, we should not be surprised to find gay couples and communities taking things slowly.

Staunch Moderate (mail) (www):
I agree that gays, along with everyone else, should carefully consider the prospect of marriage and take things slowly. But for homosexuals who want to get married, there's no reason to wait for your government to recognize your relationship. Get married now, become husband and husband or wife and wife. Then when the rest of society sees there's nothing to fear, government recognition will come next, and the legal benefits gay families deserve will no longer be prohibited.
4.28.2006 5:49pm
Tony (mail):
Well, I've been married to another man for ten years. Even if the state of California recognized our marriage, there are lots of reasons why I wouldn't rush to the altar.

First, we have already established the rights we need through joint tenancy, wills, and medical power of attourney documents. If our relationship were new, marriage would merely provide a shortcut to what we put together the hard way, but is not so necessary now.

Second, without federal-level recognition of our marriage, these rights remain somewhat shaky. What if one of us is, say, injured out of state? Texas may not care about our California marriage when medical decisions are concerned.

Third, being a Canadian citizen and permanent resident in the US, I worry that having our relationship documented in this way might affect my immigration situation somewhere far down the road - maybe decades from now. The way things are going, I could even see it becomnig grounds for deportation. Not that simply being out of the closet doesn't put me at the same risk, it's just I'd rather not put my neck on the chopping block quite so enthusiastically. (Although, to be honest, if things got that bad it would be time to leave anyway.)
4.28.2006 6:13pm
BobN (mail):
Might I suggest that this thread be closed in favor of the immediately previous one on essentially the same topic?

Heck, with or without permission, I suggest it.
4.28.2006 6:14pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
I notice that there's one possibility that Professor Carpenter does not seem to have considered: large numbers of gay men are not, and will never be interested in committed relationships. I notice that one of the first same sex couples married in Massachusetts described it as an "open marriage." Now, I know that many gay men don't spend every night cruising for anonymous pickups--but you have to be blind not to know that this is at least a substantial gay male subculture.

It is probably true that if women were as promiscuous as men, there would be a large straight male subculture out cruising for anonymous sex as well. This doesn't change the fact that for a fairly large percentage of gay men, the stability of marriage or something like it is simply not on their list of goals.

Professor Carpenter, I fear, has projected his own mainstreaming tendencies onto a group that has substantial components for whom going home to the same boring sexual partner every night just isn't on the agenda.
4.28.2006 6:17pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
(1) What Tony said, it may be marriage (here in Massachusetts) but it's still not 100% of a marriage here, and a mere fraction of a marriage anywhere else.

(2) Much less "have to get married" (as in, spouse of the first part got spouse of the second part pregnant.)

(3) Short sample. Not just what Dale said (no lifetime to build expectations) but sample space. What percentage of straights got married in the last two years?

(4) Marriage is part of a script. If you've already deviated from that script (the one in the minds of our parents, which tend to be heterosexist) following the rest of the script may exert less pressure.
4.28.2006 6:23pm
Taimyoboi:
I got the impression from reading the study that the short term trends already suggested a tapering off of marriage rates among homosexual couples.


"In most cases, the number of new same-sex marriages appears to be still declining and has not yet leveled out, making it difficult to project the ultimate proportion of gays and lesbians who will choose to enter same-sex marriages."


The sample size (time-wise) is still very small, but I read this to mean that the rates of marriage were already slowing down, not picking up.
4.28.2006 6:32pm
Hans Bader (mail):
For many people, marriage is economically a bad deal. The government punishes you for getting married.

A married couple gets hit by the alternative minimum tax, the personal-exemption phase-out, phase-out of itemized deductions and taxation of social security benefits at lower income levels than if they lived together without getting married.

And unless you have a prenup, and live in a state that enforces them (fortunately, most states do, but New York and some other big states invalidate many prenups), you are stupid to get married if you have a lot of assets or income and your partner doesn't, since when you get divorced (and it is typically the poorer spouse who initiates the divorce), you'll end up paying alimony to them for years, if not life, even if you were blameless in the divorce (most states don't even consider fault in alimony decisions).

It's no wonder many gays are getting married even in states like Massachusetts.

Any lawyer who encourages a gay businessmen to get married (unless he's approaching death and wants to take advantage of the marital exemption to inheritance taxes, and federal law recognizes the gay marriage) without disclosing the economic risks should be liable for malpractice.
4.28.2006 6:32pm
Hans Bader (mail):
I mean "It's no wonder many gays are NOT getting married even in states like Massachusetts" in my above post.

Also, when I discussed a gay businessman getting married, I meant one whose partner is not as rich as he is.
4.28.2006 6:35pm
Arvin (mail) (www):
If Clayton Cramer were right, wouldn't there be more gay women marriages (percentage-wise) than even heterosexual marriages? After all, if men (straight and gay) don't like the one-partner deal, and women (straight and gay) do, then that would indicate that when you've got two women, you're much more likely to end up with a marraige, than when you've got a man and a woman.

Interesting Clayton's comments on "project[ing one's own] tendencies".
4.28.2006 7:19pm
Gabriel Malor (mail):

Now, I know that many gay men don't spend every night cruising for anonymous pickups--but you have to be blind not to know that this is at least a substantial gay male subculture.


You've missed the point. Yes, there is a large section of gay subculture which encourages or reinforces promiscuity. The point of tracking these numbers is to see if that subculture will change now that the environment in which it was created has been changed.
4.28.2006 7:20pm
cmp:
WHY SO MANY GAY MARRIAGES?

According to US Census figures, there are approximately 212 million unmarried adults in the United States. Each year, the U.S. sees about 2.3 million weddings—or 4.6 million people married. That is a rate of approximately 2.2% per year. In contrast, the first 19.5 months legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts saw a whopping estimated 16.7% of the gay population of the state tie the knot—nearly ten times the average national rate. Experts disagreed over the reason for the high rate of gay marriages in Massachusetts, but several suggested the likelihood that "pent up demand" was responsible.
4.28.2006 7:29pm
cmp:
Woops! Make that about 100 million unmarried adults in the U.S. So the actual rate is about 4.4% per year and the gay marriage rate in MA would be about 5X the average rate. Bad to mix sarcasm with error.
4.28.2006 7:34pm
Wintermute (mail) (www):
Much of the appeal of the excessively cross-subsidized status of marriage, which I covered in my post on Gay Marriage derives from the vulnerability of one member of the union to pregnancy and primary child care duties and the strong preference of women to be stay-at-home full time nannies when possible. Absent this factor, we shouldn't expect the positives of joint domestic economy based on "guaranteed" monogamous sexual access to overcome the negatives of same.

Nonetheless, if the data I pointed to in Lesbian Litigation is to be believed, women are more likely to seek "security" (surprise, surprise) in gay marriage than males but even more likely than male same-sex couples to divorce (both gay divorce rates still significantly higher than heteros').
4.28.2006 7:36pm
Blar (mail) (www):
The only place that even has two full years of data on same-sex marriage numbers is the Netherlands, where they were legalized in April 2001. There's a graph of the trend here. As you can see (and as I describe in the blog post where that graph appears), the number of same sex marriages continues to increase pretty steadily. The rate of increase (which is the number of new marriages each year) dropped after the first year or two, which is unsurprising, since the couples that had been eager to marry and were just waiting for the law to pass would have gotten married right away. But it looks like the rate of increase is now steadying, which means that growth in the marriage rate should continue to increase.

I expect the same-sex marriage rate, in the Netherlands and elsewhere, to be on the rise just for demographic reasons. As I explained in the comments to Dale's other post, most older gay people who didn't have a chance to get married when they were young probably never will marry. Among younger gays, for whom same-sex marriage was legal during their peak marriage years, marriage will probably be much more common. The kinds of cultural changes that Dale discusses will also contribute to rising same-sex marriage rates. His third point, that gays who weren't allowed to marry decided that they didn't want to marry, could operate even without oppositional pride. Social psychologists call it dissonance reduction. It's the same thing that happens when you don't get a job that you wanted, or when you don't get into a school where you wanted to go, or when a girl or guy who you like doesn't like you: you convince yourself that they weren't really right for you anyways. Shared group identity only makes this effect stronger.
4.28.2006 8:06pm
Cornellian (mail):
I wonder whether the complexities of a marriage recognized only for purposes of state law, but not federal law, might have something to do with it. How would you even do tax returns? Perhaps a comparison with Canadian same sex marriage rates would be useful, since it's legal federally and provincially there.

The other possibilities that occur to me are more economic equality between the two partners, so one doesn't have to marry the other for financial reasons, a relative lack of familial or peer pressure to get married and less likely to want children (which probably applies only to men, if at all).

What would the marriage rate be for straight people if everyone was economically independent and felt no societal pressure to get married? It might still be substantial but it would probably be lower than it is now.
4.28.2006 8:34pm
Luke R.:
Ah hahahahha! Cruising for anonymous sex is relegated to the gay male subculture? ROFL

"there would be a large straight male subculture out cruising for anonymous sex as well"

What do you think mainstream bars and nightclubs are for, Clayton? Hooboy, good one.
4.28.2006 8:49pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Do two gay partners who don't have kids but both have jobs really want to be married for federal income tax purposes? Yes, it is a nice symbolic gesture, but what about the penalty of getting hit with the Married Filing Separate rates? (Or even the Married Filing Joint?)

I would think that the best of both worlds would be to be considered single for federal purposes, but married for state purposes. That would give gay couples the advantages of being next of kin, inheritance, etc., but not get hit with the taxes. And Social Security doesn't usually pay more for a spousal benefit than your own, if you are both earning comparable incomes.
4.28.2006 9:03pm
Elais:
To hijack this thread. Would a segregation analogy work? After segregation was ruled unconstitutional, how long did it take for places to become truly integrated?

Was there a great stampede of African-Americans to places they weren't allowed before?
4.28.2006 9:29pm
Marc Siegel (mail):
Ok, I will give the opposing view that is so sorely needed here.

While I am personally FOR the right of gays to marriage or something similar to it, I do not think the gay marriage rates will ever increase.

More importantly - the percentage of gays that are married at any given time will always be low, ie the divorce rate will also be very high.

The reason for my prediction: The nature of the human condition existed before the legal concept of marriage. In societies that practiced slavery and other abominations, man-woman couples have struggled to stay together with their children. There is no analog for monogamous gay couples "cleaving" to each other, as "one flesh". It is, you must admit, a RARE RARE occurence to see this behavior pattern in gays and lesbians.

So I am willing to take bets. Let's start the betting, right here, right now. I want to see odds and time spans. I am betting that the percentage of gay adults in a marriage will be 1) less than the straight percentabge and 2) less than 20% in 10 years. I will bet $10 on this. Does anyone want to take this bet?

PS bets are of course called off if gay marriage is repealed, etc.

Marc
4.28.2006 9:34pm
Luke R.:
Elais:
It took 10 years for Brown v. Board to have any impact, because the other branches of government didn't feel like enforcing it until then. Brown is an important example of the impotence of the court in the face of the other two branches, and is also a great example of why all the hemming and hawwing and argy bargy over the Court destroying marriage and being a 'super legislature' is all vastly overblown misdirection.
4.28.2006 9:40pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"The nature of the human condition existed before the legal concept of marriage. In societies that practiced slavery and other abominations, man-woman couples have struggled to stay together with their children. There is no analog for monogamous gay couples "cleaving" to each other, as "one flesh". It is, you must admit, a RARE RARE occurence to see this behavior pattern in gays and lesbians."

Interesting how you distinguish the "legal" concept of marriage, with the "fact" of marriage (ie: a monogomous man-woman couple). It suggests that state sanction of something (like "gay" marriage) doesn't really mean the law conforms to reality. Anyway, I think you're right. There is no analogous behavior of homosexual couples, probably because their "marriage" is really seen for what it is: fake.
4.28.2006 9:41pm
SLS 1L:
What are Massachusetts family law lawyers advising about the impact of Massachusetts marriage on the various contracts, powers of attorney, wills, etc. that gay couples have already entered into? Will their Massachusetts marriage affect their validity or enforceability? What about their validity or enforceability in states that don't recognize Massachusetts marriage?

I'm envisioning a scenario where Married Gay Couple goes vacationing in South Carolina, and one of them winds up in the hospital/dead. The homophobic local judge decides that their fancy legal documents should be interpreted under Massachusetts law, and that under Massachusetts law they constitute invalid attempts to regulate the internal conduct of a marriage. But absent the documents, property distribution, hospital visitation, or whatever would be analyzed under local law, not Massachusetts law, and under local law the marriage is invalid. So they're screwed.

If there is concern about scenarios like this, there would be some very sound reasons not to get married.
4.28.2006 9:42pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I think the real question is simply: why get married at all? It offers a few legal gains (most or all of which can be obtained more simply), in exchange for tax penalties and legal entangements. If things change, it is hard to dissolve. You can love someone all you want w/o a government license -- indeed the main effect of that license is to FORCE you to continue a relationship at some level even if you are NOT in love, indeed even if you come to hate each other.

The legal relationship is keyed to providing some stability for raising of children -- even at the pain of the parents. So unless a gay couple wants to have children, which I don't see as the majority view, a choice not to marry is perfectly rational, whether it is legal or not.
4.28.2006 10:14pm
SLS 1L:
Dave - nonsense. Many of the legal benefits of marriage, such as Social Security benefits and the right to be on a spouse's health insurance [1], are of immense value and cannot be captured through private arrangements. And private arrangements cannot be achieved "more simply" - compare the filing fee for a marriage license with attorneys' fees for wills, medical powers of attorney, etc., and such documents are easier to contest than the rights of married couples. And the vast majority of couples see a tax cut or no change in tax liability from being married - the "marriage penalty" kicks in only in a very particularized set of circumstances.

Of course, much of this is irrelevant to gay marriage, since only Massachusetts state benefits are available and many gay couples have already paid for alternative legal documents. The federal tax incentives to get married are also gone.

[1] iirc, many Massachusetts employers who formerly offered domestic partnership benefits have gotten rid of them on the grounds that marriage is available to gay couples now.
4.28.2006 10:27pm
Paulie Tomilson:
Why so few gay marriages????? You've got to be kinding me...this is a faceitious question right???
Because they can't....what are you all thinking....I would marry my partner of 25 years in a second if it were legal.
4.28.2006 10:29pm
cranem:
I think gay marriage is most likely to take hold among older gay men as they seek companionship and a simple way to settle the legal issue of Soc. Sec, medical visitation, benefits, etc. I've been with my partner for 23 years and we'd marry if it were legal.

I also believe the tragic deaths of so many from AIDS has hit especially hard those who would be in their 50's and most likely to marry. This too would depress marriage rates.
4.28.2006 10:46pm
Sydney Carton (www):
The simplest answer is usually the correct one: people get married because they want to start a family. Gay people cannot, because they're gay, start families in the normal sense. Hence, the usual desires to start a family of one's own are absent in the homosexual mind, ergo, they have no desire to get married.

Someone should do a study to see how often gays adopt. I'll bet it's miniscule in comparison to their population size, despite the fact that you'd think gays would be adopting in droves if they wanted to start a family simply because they can't easily have children of their own.
4.29.2006 12:55am
Steve:
Let's not pretend that gay adoption is something you just snap your fingers and pull off, in the current legal environment.
4.29.2006 1:30am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Dave - nonsense. Many of the legal benefits of marriage, such as Social Security benefits and the right to be on a spouse's health insurance [1], are of immense value and cannot be captured through private arrangements. And private arrangements cannot be achieved "more simply" - compare the filing fee for a marriage license with attorneys' fees for wills, medical powers of attorney, etc., and such documents are easier to contest than the rights of married couples. And the vast majority of couples see a tax cut or no change in tax liability from being married - the "marriage penalty" kicks in only in a very particularized set of circumstances.

1. SSI benefits are, I believe, modest, if both are employed. This is mainly an issue if you have the... dare I say it, not traditional but ancient ... household where there is one wage-earner and the other stays at home. That's rare in straight households these days, and I suppose rarer in gay ones.

2. Costs of getting an attorney to draw up a will and PoA are modest compared to costs and risks of marriage. In a community property state, each spouse assumes 100% liability for the other, among other things. Not to mention that if things don't work out, redrafting a will is a lot cheaper than a divorce!!!!

3. You're probably right on the marriage penalty -- looks like that is pretty much wiped out.

4. Why would anyone, straight or gay, volunteer for a form of legal servitude, unless imposed by some other duty or social need? The core of marriage is to force people to maintain some relationship EVEN IF they come to loathe each other, and to place numerous inhibitions on dissolving that relationship. E.g., in Virginia, a consensual divorce requires proof that the parties have lived apart for a calendar year. You cannot obtain one if, for economic reasons and basic civility, you were able to exist under one roof, or had done so for less than a year.
4.29.2006 1:44am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
So given my experience with my roommate and other gay men I know there are a fair amount of gay men seeking committed relationships but a smaller percent than with straight couples and these relationships tend to be far less likely to be sexually monogamous and seem less likely to last as well. The later might just be an effect of gay men starting dating later but I know lots of straight people who have been dating the same person for many years and I can only name one gay man where the same is true (and they are 20+ years older than most of my grad student friends). However, I tend to think the stereotypical explanation has something to it.

Clearly most men like sex. Sex is good and there is a strong drive to have sex with new/multiple people (at least for straight men this has obvious evolutionary benefit). Now marriage is a choice like any other choice, at least implicitly one is weighing the pros and cons. It might be nice to think of the choice to marry as some sort of pure expression of love but I suspect most people wouldn't have married their current spouse if they knew there was a huge pool of people they got along just as well with and were easily available (imagine clones/variations on your spouse are common as dirt and are all looking for people to date).

It only stands to reason when you decrease the benefits of marriage (it is no longer necessary to 'lock down' sexual access or for child-rearing for the large percent of people who don't want to adopt) and increase the benefits of breaking up/non-monogamy (more random sex) that one will see a decrease in the percent of people getting married. This shouldn't be that astonishing. Also, remember that the fact that most gay people don't get married means that gay people don't face the same terrifying effect of options shrinking with age as the eligible members of the opposite sex get snapped up into marriage.

It would be very interesting to compare the rates of marriage for gay male couples and gay female couples.

The other points raised here certainly play a role as well. The fact that gays have had to establish an alternative culture/identity that doesn't place the same importance on marriage will also reduce the marriage rates. I mean I would like a permanent committed relationship sometime but the notion of actual marriage (as opposed to some more private gesture of commitment) is something I mostly feel indifferent about. However, because of the cultural meaning of marriage in the straight community (marriage is THE way one communicates commitment) when/if I find such a relationship I will almost certainly get married but if I was gay I would have much less reason to do so (friends, family and most importantly s.o. don't necessarily identify long term commitment with marriage).

Anyway I just don't understand why anyone cares about this issue. Sure it's kinda interesting but the point of allowing gay marriage is equal treatment not actually getting gay people married. If gay men want to have sex instead of getting married well great for them but this has nothing to do with the case for gay marriage one iota. I mean this exact same situation exists for misogenation laws. We legalized interracial marriages a long time ago but interracial marriage is still occurring at a much lower rate than intraracial marriage. This is hardly reason to reenact misogenation laws (though unlike the situation with gays I think it is unfortunate that fewer interracial couples want to get married as this has implications on wider race relations). I'm not suggesting the poster was making this argument but I felt there are enough people who might think this way that it needed to be addressed.
4.29.2006 4:31am
dweeb:
Most discussion of this topic assumes the view of marriage as a package of benefits, but in reality, civil marriage is a burden upon participants, and the sexual revolution has only worsened the cost-benefit analysis.

There is much discussion of the men in society being on a "marriage strike" - unwilling to marry until divorce laws are changed to stop making marriage a transfer of wealth to women and a tool with which women can wreak havoc on a man's life.

All in all, why would ANYONE get married in today's society? There are only real motivators - that women vulnerable to pregnancy will demand it of men, and the moral/religious convictions of one or both spouses. Clearly the first doesn't apply to gays. As for the second, a prerequisite for the gay lifestyle is a rejection or modification of traditional moral/religious precepts. If you're going to reject a doctrine that merely limits you to one half of 6 billion people for ppotential partners as opposed to the other half, why would you retain a doctrine that obligates you to an economic suicide pact?

There's really only one rational reason for gays wanting to marry, wanting that piece of paper - social approval/legitimacy. All the other reasons, inheritance, hospital visits, joint property ownership, etc., can be had with less baggage. However, the social approval is another illusion. People who will recognize the marriage as valid already approved of the relationship. Those who don't approve will not be swayed by a marriage license which they won't accept as legitimate anyway. When you add it all up, gays have nothing to gain from marriage and everything to lose, and this will become more and more apparent once enough gays experience the special hell of divorce court.
4.29.2006 5:19am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Wow, I never knew the "Marriage Penalty" referred to a tax situation, I thought it just referred to the multiple ways it makes your life miserable.
4.29.2006 10:45am
Scott Somerville (mail) (www):
This information supports what I learned at the Gay Rights class at Harvard Law School back in 1991. I've noted my thoughts on the subject over at my blog. (NB: I was the only straight person in the class.)
4.29.2006 11:43am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

If Clayton Cramer were right, wouldn't there be more gay women marriages (percentage-wise) than even heterosexual marriages? After all, if men (straight and gay) don't like the one-partner deal, and women (straight and gay) do, then that would indicate that when you've got two women, you're much more likely to end up with a marraige, than when you've got a man and a woman.
It does appear that lesbians are more likely to form domestic partnerships, get married, civil unions, than gay men--even though gay men out number lesbians about 2:1 or 3:1.

If the only thing determining whether men settle down and get married was their animal inclinations towards frequent sex with multiple partners (which indeed should have an evolutionary advantage--more descendants), yes, I would expect that there would be relatively few men getting married. But there's a bit more to the story.

1. Until fairly recently, the economic consequences of childbearing created a strong incentive for women to demand permanence from a guy.

2. There is substantial social pressure, much of conditioned by religious beliefs, for guys to marry and raise a family. I won't say that homosexuals are completely immune to social pressures and religious beliefs, but to the extent that they aren't going to be having children as a result of marriage, these pressures are going to be much less powerful on homosexuals than on straights.

3. Yes, there are straight men out there looking for one night stands. In my experience, most straight men, if they had the choice of a long-term relationship with a woman, or a series of pickups, would pick the long-term relationship. It is simpler, requires less manipulative game playing, reduces STD risks, and to put it bluntly, sex with the same woman generally gets better with repetition, as both of you get to know each other better.

But for a number of gay men, this isn't a matter of finding someone to take home for the night. It's finding several complete strangers for sex in an alley, a public restroom, or a bathhouse. A friend worked for public health in Marin County. When she first started working in STD tracing, she asked this one guy (who was gay) how many sexual contacts he had in the previous 30 days. His response was "about 90." She clarified, "No, I don't mean the number of times you have had sex, but the number of different partners." "About 90."

Now, I know that most gay men aren't that promiscuous--and gay men often express amazement that even if they wanted it, they could find that many different sexual partners. But there is a gay subculture that is highly promiscuous, and who often do not even see the face of the man who is sodomizing them. This is part of the reason that AIDS spread like wildfire through the gay community in the early 1980s, and is still infecting astonishing numbers of gay men--there were (and are) a lot of gay men who are extremely promiscuous.
4.29.2006 11:54am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Dweeb writes:


There's really only one rational reason for gays wanting to marry, wanting that piece of paper - social approval/legitimacy. All the other reasons, inheritance, hospital visits, joint property ownership, etc., can be had with less baggage. However, the social approval is another illusion. People who will recognize the marriage as valid already approved of the relationship. Those who don't approve will not be swayed by a marriage license which they won't accept as legitimate anyway. When you add it all up, gays have nothing to gain from marriage and everything to lose, and this will become more and more apparent once enough gays experience the special hell of divorce court.
Exactly. Most of the arguments for gay marriage turn out to be something that you can take care of with a small amount of paperwork (durable power of attorney), and if these stated reasons were the actual reason to push for gay marriage, some lawyer would have made himself a pile of money producing a set of state by state forms telling gay couples how to handle this. Yes, it is more complex and probably a little more costly than a marriage license--but without the divorce lawyers at the other end.

The tax benefits under federal law are another matter--but unless one of you is making dramatically more money than the other, the tax benefit of joint filing isn't there.

This is mostly about making people who know that they are abnormal feel normal--and having a state approved marriage isn't going to fix that.
4.29.2006 12:00pm
JosephSlater (mail):
The fact that a marriage made in Mass. may be very hard to enforce in other states may play into it too. Suppose I was gay, living with my partner in Mass., but thinking I might well move out of state for work or other reasons in a few years. The fact that my future home state wouldn't recognize my marriage might well make me think the the value of getting married would be significantly diminished.
4.29.2006 12:15pm
Joseph Hovsep (mail):
There's really only one rational reason for gays wanting to marry, wanting that piece of paper - social approval/legitimacy.

Its a wonder anyone gets married at all the way some commenters talk about how terrible the marriage regime is. Its simply not credible to claim that gay couples only want to be able to marry for approval of our community. That's the one thing gays and lesbians can get without changing the law.

However many times you say it, obtaining the benefits of marriage for same sex couples is not a matter of just taking the time to fill out some forms. I suppose none of you married folks who think gays can get the substantive benefits of marriage without actually getting married have never been a participant in the health insurance plan provided by your spouse's employer or vice versa. And I suppose those employers don't have health savings accounts as their health insurance (which can't really be used by a couple even if the employer offers domestic partner benefits unless the couple is married for federal purposes). I suppose you've never had to take advantage of COBRA. I suppose your spouse has never been too sick to work. I suppose you and your spouse are both American citizens so you don't have trouble staying in the same country together. I suppose you and your spouse have never been called to testify against each other in a trial. I suppose you've never had to declare bankruptcy.
4.29.2006 12:47pm
Bart (mail):
You are assuming that homosexual relationships are somehow interchangeable with heterosexual relationships. Where is the evidence of this?

There is very little monogamy in male homosexual relationships and the data for lesbians is unclear.

Homosexual unions cannot produce children, which unify heterosexual couples.

The entire homosexual "marriage" movement is about compelling social recognition of the equivalence of homosexual and heterosexual relationships and secondarily about gaining some legal benfits.
4.29.2006 12:48pm
ly (mail):
This is mostly about making people who know that they are abnormal feel normal--and having a state approved marriage isn't going to fix that.

Just one of many comments on this blog that demonstrate why marriage equality is indeed a human right issue.
4.29.2006 12:59pm
ly (mail):
Its a wonder anyone gets married at all the way some commenters talk about how terrible the marriage regime is.

Yes -- some very misogynistic male posters. All the old attitudes -- women just want to trap you and suck the life out of you, etc.
4.29.2006 1:02pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
"I have a cousin who's Gay, in our family tree, he's in the fruit section." R. Dangerfield,1981
4.29.2006 1:16pm
Mikkel (mail):
It's very unclear how many of the posters actually know many gay men let alone young ones. I'm 23 and bi and at this point I'm with a man that there is a good chance I might marry. I've lived many places throughout the country and it is very obvious that societal acceptance of homosexuality has an immense effect on personal behavior. In tolerant places (not necessarily accepting -- I'm in Ohio now) almost all the gays of my generation have (or desire) relationships as stable and long term as the average 20-something and look down on promiscuity, much more than my straight friends. The idea of crusing or gay bath houses is sickening and anyone that does anything close to that is thought of as self destructive and self-loathing. However in fully repressive places (like Louisiana where I used to live), the behavior is totally different. I haven't heard of any long term relationship there, even anecdotally. There isn't much cruising, but there are a lot more trysts and one night stands -- and emphasis is on sex instead of emotional attachment even in dating. Almost all the gays there are closeted, while in Ohio even a lot of bisexuals in monogamous relationships with women are open about the fact that they find some men attractive.

The thing is, the desire to have a "normal" relationship isn't much different between the two places. I'd say around 95% of the gay (or bi) men I know want to get married, raise kids and buy a house with a white picket fence. The difference is that most of the ones in Lousiana feel constrained and purposefully resist developing an emotional attachment, while most of them in Ohio have almost the exact same issues (whether it works out or not) as hetero couples. There is a fear in Louisiana about forming a long term bond because then they'd actually have to come out of the closet and potentially lose their friends and family or perhaps even worse.

I've always found it amazing how people could demonize gays and claim they will never be able to form long term relationships, while simulatenously fostering an environment where anyone that did try to have a public relationship would be destroyed socially/familally. There are a few cases of people I've known that are both promiscuous and self loving and just really like having sex with people (and they are all straight women). The majority of people I've known that have problems with forming monogamous relationships have their own issues and self hatred or fear. To me, the reason why gay men display such an abundance of this behavior is because it's been institutionalized by society. I think 50 years from now, there will be minimal difference between gay male behavior and straight male behavior.

Also, in the same study about Dutch marriage rates, they pointed out that homosexuals have the same divorce rate as heterosexuals -- but lesbians had higher rates than men. This of course means that in the Netherlands, gay men get divorced less than heterosexuals. It is still early and I didn't see a quantitative number in the article, but if this continues maybe people should look at the percentage of gays/lesbians in *lasting* marriages compared to straights.
4.29.2006 2:08pm
Joseph Hovsep (mail):
Bart: There is very little monogamy in male homosexual relationships

First, give us some evidence: what does "very little" mean? Is this from your personal experience? Otherwise, you must have some stats to back that up. Second, there is plenty of monogamy in gay relationships and there is plenty of infidelity in apparently monogamous straight relationships. Third, who cares? Do we really want to start criminalizing adultery again? If two people decide they want to live as a married couple but not be monogamous or never have sex or only have sex for the purposes of creating children, that should be their private decision to make.

I'm also a little creeped out by detailed knowledge some commenters claim to have about where, how, and with whom gay men have sex. Sure, there are gay men who have had sex in bathhouses... there are also lots of straight men who've had sex with prostitutes. Again, so what? Its irrelevant and it seems merely an attempt to smear gays and lesbians as a group. The same sex marriage debate is about gay couples who are committed to each other and want to share in the benefits and responsibilities of marriage. If some gay men have sex in restrooms or some straight men cheat on their wives with prostitutes, that shouldn't endanger the access of gays or straights as a group to equal legal rights. Its like telling blacks that they might be entitled to equal rights if only they'd stop commiting so many crimes.

As numbers of marriages and divorces for gays and lesbians are comparable to each other, I think its hard to argue that the lack of marriage is due to men inherently wanting to spread their seed and women being inherently dependent. I think the points raised by Prof. Carpenter and others are much more persuasive.
4.29.2006 3:25pm
Houston Lawyer:
SSM is primarily about forcing individuals to accept that heterosexuality and homosexuality are equal. Apparently, only a very small minority of a very small minority intend to take advantage of the so-called benefits of SSM. I expect this number to decline, once a significant number experience the benefits of a same sex divorce.
4.29.2006 3:29pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
1. As far as economic benefits, they're rather limited, particularly if both partners work. Lower cost health insurance if only one works, that manner of thing.

2. Consider the economic downside. At least in a community property state, each partner is fully liable for the other's debts, torts, contracts, etc.. In fact, in AZ you become liable for all the partner's *pre-marriage* debts and liabilities. So one spouse becomes disabled and needs expensive care, applies to the proper government agencies. Sorry -- the economic unit is the both of you, and the other spouse has assets. Only after both are impoverished can the one apply.

3. Not that these considerations have any bearing on legalizing gay marriage -- it's not the task of government to shield people from their decisions -- but I'd suggest it would explain the relatively low rates of gay marriage where allowed. Take children out of the equation and marriage is often not a rational decision.
4.29.2006 3:32pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
How do you know if your roommates gay??
4.29.2006 3:40pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
His D*** tastes like S***
4.29.2006 3:41pm
SLS 1L:
Dave - assuming those reasons are very influential in people's decision to get married or not marry, why does having children change anything? Few of the legal effects of marriage have anything to do with children.
4.29.2006 4:49pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Dave - assuming those reasons are very influential in people's decision to get married or not marry, why does having children change anything? Few of the legal effects of marriage have anything to do with children.

Yup. But (1) social expectations still are (and were much stronger within memory) that childbearing should follow marriage and (2) marriage is designed (in particular, its difficulty of breaking up) to increase stability of the household for the chidrens' sake. I think it confers few benefits on the adults, at a high price -- the real intended beneficiaries are children. For example, in VA (at least when I got divorced there) there was a full year's waiting period if a couple had kids, that only began to run after the parents were living separately -- in my case, we agreed to divorce in August 1990, the decree was signed in January 1992, and there was no dispute at all on any of its terms -- I imagine if there had been, it would have taken 2-3 years. I assume the rational is to make divorce difficult and prolonged in the hopes of deterring parents from it, and maximizing the chance they would find some way to get along during it.
4.29.2006 5:44pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
PS -- the ex died nearly 3 years ago, and here's a memorial page to her.
4.29.2006 5:48pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Great Memorial page, an inspiring story despite the sad ending, I highly recommend it to other Conspirators.
4.29.2006 6:32pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
So someone asked how one knows that one roomates are gay. I presume this question is directed at me. Technically I suppose we weren't 'roomates' but there is no nice word for people who share a house but not a room. I guess housemate works but it doesn't role off the tongue.

Anyway my question would be why wouldn't you know your roomate/housemate was gay? Maybe in parts of the country that aren't berkeley people are more circumspect about this thing but here I don't know any gay people whose housemates don't know (obviously since if I know they are gay have to be out of the closet). Anyway there are three reasons I know 1.) He was a friend and told me, 2.) I met all the guys he would bring home, 3.) He was part of the gay grad student clique (I don't mean to imply the exclusivity this word is often used to convey but few straight people are going to want to go to the gay clubs as they can't pick anyone they want up there).

Basically the same reason he knew I was straight (I told him and it didn't excape his eye when Sharon (now my ex) slept over). I kinda suspect this is a generational issue. I couldn't imagine grad students I know not talking about this sort of stuff.
4.29.2006 10:39pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Or I just gave a serious answer to an attempt to be humorous but it's hard to tell in text.
4.29.2006 10:40pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
On a larger issue why is anyone concerned about 'harm to marriage'? I mean who cares if people get married or not? Sure if the concern is that just as many people will have children but not as many people will get married maybe this is a concern. However, it is far from clear to me that children benefit from the resentment and dislike that bubbles up in some people who don't want to be together but stay together and fewer marriages might very well mean fewer inappropriate marriages. Also there was an interesting statistic from the netherlands or maybe belgium that when they increased the economic benefits/decreased the penalty for marriage the number of people having children increased. So at least in part people change their deciscions to have children based on their deciscions to get married.

Admitedly to really answer this question one would have to do some serious social research but my gut reaction to all the current societal pressure to get married is disgust. The idea of people getting married when they aren't really enthusiastic or just because they have been dating for awhile and think that is what one does after one has been dating is pretty sad. Thus decreasing the social pressure to get married ('harming' marriage) seems like a good thing as it means not as many people will enter into borderline marriages and probably less people who don't really want children will have them.

In a broader sense worrying about about harm to marriage seems a lot like worrying about people having less sex in the missionary position. Especially if you are a conservative your assumption should be that left to their own devices people usually make deciscions that make them happier. I mean the classical liberal/conservative dichotomy is about whether people are better off choosing on their own versus having other people do it for them. I don't see why it would be any different when we start to get into issues about sex/marriage and the only sense I can make of the term 'harm to marriage' is that society stops so strongly encouraging people to get married.
4.29.2006 10:56pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
ly,

I don't think it is only misogyny that can make one skeptical of marriage. For a very long time I was very negative on marriage because I found the idea of someone remaining with me even though they didn't want to remain with me disgusting. Yet presumably if they want to stay with you they will stay with you whether or not you are married what is the point of getting married other than to 'trap' your s.o. so they don't take a better option if it comes along.

Ultimately I softened my position because it occurred to me that there is a difference between saying that if things get hard I will put in a big effort to work things out with you and saying I will stay with you no matter what. Still the idea of having the other person promise to be with you no matter what still kinda bothers me since either they are lying or they are making a promise I would never want them to keep, namely even if they discovered that our marriage is making them extremely unhappy they would stay in it anyway.

Given the fact that I can of course make it clear to my s.o. in private that I would like them to try and work things out but I don't want them to refuse to get a divorce once they are sure things won't work out (i.e. the statements at marriage should be interpreted as promising to try and love the person not to stay with them even if you don't) I've come to terms with the idea of getting married. However, there are perfectly non-misogynistic reasons to be skeptical of marriage. In fact it seems a bit misogynistic to assume that your wife will always be so besotted with you that it could never turn out that the marriage is going bad.
4.29.2006 11:06pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Sorry for so many posts but I thought I should separate things into topics.

Joseph Hovsep,

Can you post a link to the similar marriage rates for lesbians and gay men? I believe you but am curious about how close it is and who is higher.

Anyway, it seems incontrovertible that gay men have more random sex than straight men. How else do you explain the fact that here in the bay area there is like one sex club that caters to straights (and it caters to gays as well on a different floor) and several that cater exclusively to gays. Additionally, My ex-housemate, my girlfriend and I went to the mixed sex club one time (wanted to see what it was like) and my housemate reported that the gay floor was just filled with people having sex while the straight floor was a bunch of men and one or two women wandering around uncomfortably not having sex. I've also driven my housemate to the more local gay sex club at like 3 am and apparently it is still swinging at that time even on a weeknight and from what I say this wasn't true of straight sex clubs (but don't have that much evidence about straight sex clubs).

One might be inclined to think this is just some artifact about sex clubs. However, the vast majority of my gay friends (8-10 guys not just 2) have hooked up multiple times on gay.com (some do so very regularly) while none of my straight friends have ever really hooked up for random sex. Sure you can go find some women looking for random sex on craigslist or similar sites but these few women are deluged by hoards of offers from straight guys (I actually do know this, my ex-girlfriend and I advertised for a threesome once...though didn't end up finding anyone suitable).

This isn't saying anything bad about gay men. I mean hell if I had the opportunity to go to some club and easily have sex with hot women I would certainly try it out (nor do I see what is wrong with having sex with a prostitute in a regulated/non-slavery situation...my ex and I tried it in the Netherlands and the woman got the money she wanted and we got what we wanted). It's just stating the obvious fact that a greater opportunity to have random sex without paying actually results in more random sex. True most of my gay friends do have serious relationships but generally these are not strictly monogamous (and I thought our discussion was restricted to monogamous/traditional type marriages) and perhaps as a result seem a bit less likely to last.

Yes, it is possible that this effect is just do to the social effects of an alternative identity but it seems unbelievable that the greater availability of good random sex doesn't make marriage less attractive for at least some people. Perhaps this effect is just as strong for lesbians as gay men and the reason it doesn't exist for straight women is that our society still labels them sluts if they sleep around or because straight men are more jealous of their girlfriends sleeping around. Or perhaps there is an entirely alternative explanation (some studies have suggested that men are divided more sharply between gay and straight so there may be a selection effect that bi women who don't want to get married are more likely to date women) but in any case the point is this one fact isn't enough to dismiss the sex effect.

Sorry for too many details about the sex lives of me and my friends but it seemed necessary to convince people that I do know what I am talking about.
4.29.2006 11:55pm
Josh_Jasper (mail):
The amount of vehement, and in some cases downright disgustin anti-gay comments here are indicative of either an abandonment of moderation, or a large scale tolerance of bigotry in the VC blog, as long as it's anti-gay.

I can't imagine similar toned anti-semitic commentary being let stand in a thread on Judaism.

Like any conservative blog, the VC pays lip service to keeping out invective and bigotry, but anti-gay commentors seem to be fairly commonplace, and don't seem to be moderated.

What makes this place the most darkly ironic is how often you see posts about conservatives being 'opressed' in liberal academia.

Let me be blunt. You privelaged overfed stuffed shirts of the VC mainstay have no idea what real opression is, and never will. I'm not including Dale here, though I have no idea why he puts up with such bigots and enablers like the ones running this place.
4.30.2006 1:49am
TFKW:
But, it takes 3-4 years to plan a wedding nowadays! I would expect gay couples to spend at least as much time as straight couples fussing over venues, guest lists, and whether the napkins match the flowers.
4.30.2006 2:05am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
The amount of vehement, and in some cases downright disgustin anti-gay comments here are indicative of either an abandonment of moderation, or a large scale tolerance of bigotry in the VC blog, as long as it's anti-gay.

My point has been that gay marriage is the most horrific form of gay-bashing ever invented. This is hardly anti-gay bigotry. No gay has ever wronged me, and I am reluctant to see them thus wronged. I am open to the argument that a person must be permitted to seek their own fate -- and to the counterargument that even voluntary slavery must be prohibited.

You privelaged overfed stuffed shirts of the VC mainstay have no idea what real opression is

But we do know what proper spelling is...
4.30.2006 2:22am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
But, it takes 3-4 years to plan a wedding nowadays! I would expect gay couples to spend at least as much time as straight couples fussing over venues, guest lists, and whether the napkins match the flowers.

Chuckle. No idea whether they would (1) spend years arguing over those issues or (2) both throw up their hands and decide neither gives a hoot. I DO know that with my first venture into voluntary servitude, there were long debates over whether to do it fancy, or (my view) just have a party at our house and (she having won) how many should be invited to a fancy reception where inadequate quantities of duck with orange would be served at inordinate cost.
4.30.2006 2:28am
Marc Siegel (mail):
Well, to Ly and Logicnazi and others, let me just say again, let's bet on it. Gay people on the long run will not get married or stay married in large numbers. I support their right to it and support the small minority group who actually have long term marriage-type relationships.

But I want to see you pay up on the numbers.
4.30.2006 5:02am
Frank Drackman (mail):
I wonder what the effect of SSM on the prison system would be? Could prisoners marry and share cells or at least have congigal visits if theyre not in the same cell block. I know no one cares about convicted criminals but it might cut down on some of the rape and such. As it is now, its the unspoken part of the sentence for any crime, "20 yrs in state prison(and getting f+++++ up the ass) the people who want Moussaai to get Life in prison know that hes really getting a lifetime of anal sex, which he will probably enjoy anyway.
4.30.2006 9:09am
Joseph Hovsep (mail):
Can you post a link to the similar marriage rates for lesbians and gay men?

I was referring to the survey of Dutch couples cited above, but there is no link to the actual survey that I can find. It says that in 2005, 9% of lesbians were married and 5% of gay men were married but that a higher percentage of lesbians got divorced. So, it probably wasn't fair for me to say that gay men and lesbians marry at comparable rates, though they don't seem as far apart as you'd think they'd be based on biological arguments about the likelihood of monogamy in gay male vs. lesbian relationships. I don't have any other source of this kind of information other than the same personal and anecdotal knowledge that other commenters have used.

I'm not arguing that gay men don't have promiscuous sex or that gay men are just as likely to be monogamous or committed to each other long term as straights or lesbians. I fully believe that there are statistically significant differences in the way gay men and lesbians form relationships and in the way homosexual and heterosexual couples form relationships. I will concede that gay men are less monogamous than straights or lesbians. My real point is that this kind of information about promiscuity is a red herring that is more likely to prejudice people against gays and lesbians than to really inform the debate about same sex marriage. Its irrelevant to the SSM debate whether straights or gays or lesbians are, as groups, more likely to be monogamous because there are many gay couples who do live "married" lives, do raise children, do support each other for the long term. And its those people who want the right to legally marry. If other people (gay or straight) want to sleep around or hire prostitutes or not sleep with anyone, I don't care. I'm very much a libertarian when it comes to regulating or publically moralizing private, consensual behavior.
4.30.2006 1:51pm
Joseph Hovsep (mail):
I'm not including Dale here, though I have no idea why he puts up with such bigots and enablers like the ones running this place.

I've had similar frustration reading and commenting on blogs like VC, but I am coming to terms with it. The people who run and post on VC are not bigots. I think, on the whole, they are thoughtful and openminded, albeit with a particular ideological bent with which I frequently disagree. Commenters who express anti-gay feelings are generally anonymous, so its hard to tell what motivates them. Some may be closeminded bigots, some may use unnecessarily provocative rhetoric to make their points or to inspire reactive comments, some may be unduly hasty in the way they compose their thoughts.

Blogs are interesting venue for expressing beliefs that we might not express in person and might not express again based on reactions to our comments. I personally think we should encourage people to express their gut-level fear and anger and offense freely here where we at least have a chance to rebut and rethink and sometimes recant. The rhetoric may sometimes seem too vitriolic, but at the end of the day, I think its a healthy (voluntary) exercise.

I also think Profs. Carpenter and Volokh are engaging in a noble task by raising gay issues in non-inflammatory empirical, theoretical and legalistic contexts so that people who otherwise would be too far apart to find any common ground have a place to start a healthy exchange of perspectives. I think we have to expect to tread through the stereotypes and uninformed prejudices and misunderstandings about gays and lesbians before we convince the largely conservative readership of a blog like VC of the merits of our side of gay issues.
4.30.2006 3:45pm
Josh_Jasper (mail):
Joseph - thnk you for taking the time to respond thoughtfully. I think we're in disagreement here.

Minorities know what coded language directed against them looks like. Hell, even Christians are learning what it looks like from some of the more ideological anti-religious propoganda out there.

My concern isn't that people are not free to express "ut-level fear and anger and offense", it's that certain types of offense are treated differnly than others.

Take a step back, and put yourself in the historical position of watching 'educated' people discuss seggregation back in the 1950s. Imagine a 'reasoned' debate at a school that wouldn't allow a person to slander Christ, but allowed for people like Bill Buckley to use coded racist language, and gave him a platform to do so.

And now see yourself as explaining to a black person why giving Buckley a station from which to support seggregation is important.

This is pretty much the position you're in now, only we can switch black civil rights with gay civil rights. You're talling me that it's important to let people vent what I call coded and not so coded hate-speech

Check Frank Drackmann's posts. Explain to me exactly why it's important to give a platform to the equivilant of someone making N-word jokes, <b>because that is what is going on here</b>

So far, it's been tolerated, and this is not the first case of it.

Should the VC postes tolerate the same disgusting bigotry on racial issues? Or do GLBT people get a special category?
4.30.2006 7:44pm
Josh_Jasper (mail):
Joseph - thnk you for taking the time to respond thoughtfully. I think we're in disagreement here.

Minorities know what coded language directed against them looks like. Hell, even Christians are learning what it looks like from some of the more ideological anti-religious propoganda out there.

My concern isn't that people are not free to express "ut-level fear and anger and offense", it's that certain types of offense are treated differnly than others.

Take a step back, and put yourself in the historical position of watching 'educated' people discuss seggregation back in the 1950s. Imagine a 'reasoned' debate at a school that wouldn't allow a person to slander Christ, but allowed for people like Bill Buckley to use coded racist language, and gave him a platform to do so.

And now see yourself as explaining to a black person why giving Buckley a station from which to support seggregation is important.

This is pretty much the position you're in now, only we can switch black civil rights with gay civil rights. You're talling me that it's important to let people vent what I call coded and not so coded hate-speech

Check Frank Drackmann's posts. Explain to me exactly why it's important to give a platform to the equivilant of someone making N-word jokes, <b>because that is what is going on here</b>

So far, it's been tolerated, and this is not the first case of it.

Should the VC postes tolerate the same disgusting bigotry on racial issues? Or do GLBT people get a special category?
4.30.2006 7:44pm
Bart (mail):
Joseph Hovsep (mail):

Bart: There is very little monogamy in male homosexual relationships

First, give us some evidence: what does "very little" mean? Is this from your personal experience? Otherwise, you must have some stats to back that up.


There have been several studies on this subject. Here is a recent one.

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=17458

Second, there is plenty of monogamy in gay relationships and there is plenty of infidelity in apparently monogamous straight relationships.

The monogamy rates are not even close.

Third, who cares? Do we really want to start criminalizing adultery again?

You are offering a straw man here. We are not talking about criminalizing adultery or sodomy. We are talking about whether to change the definition most important relationship in humanity - marriage - to include homosexual unions.

Marriage is based on monogamy and procreation. Homosexual relationships are generally promiscuous and of short duration and by definition homosexuals cannot procreate.

Thus, I am having a hard time seeing why the definition should be changed.
4.30.2006 7:51pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Gays can already marry, as Rock Hudson, Governor McGreevey (D-NJ),and Michael Jackson have demonstrated.
4.30.2006 8:24pm
Joseph Hovsep (mail):
Bart,

First, I have conceded that gay men are statistically more likely to be nonmonogamous. However, a publication of the Southern Baptists is not a particularly reliable source for even-handed interpretation of data on gay men. Of course, you also leave out lesbians. If you can show that lesbians are also dangerously nonmonogamous, but you'd let them into the marriage regime but not slutty gay men, then we can talk about monogamy as relevant to who gets to get married.

Second, you say: "We are talking about whether to change the definition most important relationship in humanity - marriage - to include homosexual unions. Marriage is based on monogamy and procreation. Homosexual relationships are generally promiscuous and of short duration...."

In fact, the topic is more specific: why gays and lesbians do not take advantage of their limited opportunities to get married. In answering this question, a relevant consideration is why straight people do or do not get married and do or do not practice monogamy. A straight-pride person cannot in good conscience say that gays shouldn't be married because they switch partners too often when 50% of straight marriages end in divorce and plenty of surveys show that cheating on your spouse is far from uncommon in straight relationships.

"(/i>...and by definition homosexuals cannot procreate."

In fact, gay men and lesbians can and do procreate, and even adopt in 49 states. Those gay and lesbian parents are among the most adamant that the gay-marriage bans are bad, bad for them as a couple, bad for their kids, bad for a society that values children.
4.30.2006 8:48pm
Joseph Hovsep (mail):
Should the VC postes tolerate the same disgusting bigotry on racial issues? Or do GLBT people get a special category?

I agree that anti-gay speech seems to be much more tolerated by this community than would be anti-black, anti-Jewish, or, hell, anti-left-handed hate speech. It bothers me a bit that the posters don't interject in the comments more to at least express their disapproval, if any. On the other hand, if I were running a site like this, I'd be very reluctant to delete comments or ban commenters for any kind of speech other than threats of violence and the like. I do think that anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Jewish advocates should be free to try to convince the world they're right. However, they are losing and they know it. I think this kind of forum, which ultimately relies on the reader's intelligence, helps gay rights more than it hurt us.
4.30.2006 9:01pm
tioedong (mail) (www):
There are many cultures and many ways cultures have handled their "gay" members...the fact that few have "gay marriage" should give us pause.(some allow gays as "women" who marry, others wink at their sexual patterns, others look the other way when men have sex with men, since it is only sex)...
Marriage is about having someone support a woman and her children when they would have trouble supporting themselves emotionally and financially (something true today even with welfare). It has cultural meaning (men pressured to stay in marriages and not cheat so that the wives are protected) and meanings for the extended family (my husband supported his dead brother's kids...and many Filippina women support their extended families. We no longer see such family loyalty, instead relying on the government in place of family as social umbrella).
We have already weakened the protection of marriage by easy divorce, so women can no longer rely on husbands supporting them during times of pregnancy and child raising...
Gay marriage is only believable as a concept because we no longer discuss or recognize the many cultural reasons for marriage in the first place.
4.30.2006 9:37pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
What is "anti-gay" speech on this thread?
Apparently it is making statments of fact which may or may not be valid. I expect the statements would be even more loathsome if they turned out to be true.
Just as it's considered "racist" to mention, say, some crime stats.

IMO, one reason there are fewer gay marriages than expected is the presumption that getting married was the primary issue here.
I don't think so. The institution of marriage has been under attack from various points of view for some time. The institution of gay marriage has been said to weaken the appeal of straight marriage for the marginal prospects (change always takes place first at the margin). If true, then those who oppose marriage at all (some femnists, some social engineers with radical ideas) would have been pushing it for other reasons than a sincere concern for gay rights.
Remember, it is not a cosmically valid law that activists always tell truth about their goals.

In addition, some advocates have stated in advance that gay marriages aren't going to look like straight marriages. Andrew Sullivan talked about modifying the institution to take into account "the complicated lives of gay men." With sufficient modification, it may modify itself away from being necessary. So when you look at a proposed, highly modified marriage institution, you may find people saying, the hell with it.
Or, if gay marriages are socially sanctioned to have adultery built in, possibly to the marriage vows, will this adversely affect traditional marriages?
5.1.2006 1:19am
dweeb:
I suppose none of you married folks who think gays can get the substantive benefits of marriage without actually getting married have never been a participant in the health insurance plan provided by your spouse's employer or vice versa.

Many employers now disallow sousal coverage if the spouse has coverage available from theit own wmployer. This will likely become more common as companies seek to control benefits costs.

I suppose your spouse has never been too sick to work.

And single people don't get sick?

I suppose you've never had to declare bankruptcy.

In bankruptcy, I would think the ability to exclude your partner's assets from the court's jurisdiction would be an advantage, not a liability.

Misogyny is not needed to view marriage cynically. In a divorce, both sides lose the financial and personal autonomy that is the primary reason people flock to the USA, and some judge assumes control.
5.1.2006 2:56am
Steven Crane (mail):
Consider:

1. As others have stated here, straight men can and do cruise for anonymous sex in large numbers; any trip to a college campus or straight nightclub in a large city will illustrate that.

2. The public image of gay male culture is very youth-centric; except for a few celebrities, I'm fairly sure most people here would be hard-pressed to think of any gay men they know over the age of 40... and in the case of some of the more obnoxious commentors, I would be surprised if they were personally acquainted with any actual gay men of the non-straw variety.
5.1.2006 3:24am
raj (mail):
Bart 4.30.2006 6:51pm

Apparently, you did not read the article that you cited.

You said There is very little monogamy in male homosexual relationships

You were asked First, give us some evidence...

You responded There have been several studies on this subject. Here is a recent one.

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=17458


That article said nothing about monogamy in male homosexual relationships. It only purported to describe a survey, in one predominantly gay section of Chicago, that purported to show that gay men might be relatively promiscuous. It made no mention of whether those gay men were or were not in relationships.
5.1.2006 9:01am
mythago (mail) (www):
Misogyny is not needed to view marriage cynically.

You might consider viewing marriage realistically, rather than cynically. That is, it's a legal commitment with costs as well as benefits. To assume that it's merely a vehicle for women to exploit men is misogynistic, not "cynical".

I'm surprised the original post didn't address the legal problems at all. Right now, it's very unclear whether a legitimate same-sex marriage will be treated as such by the federal government or by other states--which can lead to confusion about marriage rights, custody, and property. Of course same-sex couples are being cautious.
5.1.2006 10:32am
Lanceraider:
Think of the income tax implications. Why would a couple with above average earning potential want to give the government any more than they have to. The marriage penalty is really draconian. It seems to me that filing separately keeps more of your earnings where it belongs --in your pocket.

I grant that when you get older and are more at risk for health problems, it is probably to your benefit to have the legal protections for estate planning and hospital visitations, but after that, if you are not going to procreate, why get married?
5.1.2006 11:38am
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):
What is "anti-gay" speech on this thread?

I'd say Frank Drackmann's gay jokes ("His D*** tastes like S***") are inappropriate and offensive in the context of this discussion.

Some may also be conditioned to think calling gays and lesbians "abnormal" is acceptable, but I think Josh Jasper's point (which I was responding to) is that the reaction of this community would likely be much less tolerant if a commenter called Jews or abnormal. The different and more tolerant treatment of anti-gay speech does not go unnoticed.

That said, I think you have to be thick-skinned if you want to engage conservatives on gay issues. Its not for everyone. My take on commenting here is that the number of people who read the posts and comments is much, much greater than the number who actually comment themselves. So, the views of the people who leave comments are not necessarily representative of the blog's readership. And when people say offensive things, it comes across as desperate and closedminded and ultimately serves to undermine their positions in the minds of the readers.
5.1.2006 11:43am
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
'Why so few gay marriages?' Gosh when did I stop beating my wife?

In the only jurisdiction that matters, Massachusetts, the question is leading and nonsensical - gay citizens are licensing contract at a rate 6+ times that of the straight ones!

Once again, the government does NOT marry people - it can no more make you 'married' than it can make you tall or smart. Marriage is a natural human condition deriving from our very nature - gays and straights already marry, all governments do is license a contract in support of marriage with a variable set of benefits and responsibilities depending on the jurisdiction issuing it.

Overseas the reason they aren't licensing the contract is probably the same reason straight couples are avoiding it - in a socialized nation with high levels of individual citizen government support there is no real benefit in licensing the contract if the couple is sans children and in some of them even that doesn't really change anything.

Here in the US whenever marriage contracts have been available to all citizens many of those with same gender spouses have run to the courthouse, and that's in-spite of the negative that the federal government refuses to acknowledge these valid state licensed contracts. With many critical contractual benefits being at the federal level what's amazing is that so many same gender married couples have bothered to license this essentially crippled version of the contract at all.
5.1.2006 11:49am
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):

That article said nothing about monogamy in male homosexual relationships. It only purported to describe a survey, in one predominantly gay section of Chicago, that purported to show that gay men might be relatively promiscuous. It made no mention of whether those gay men were or were not in relationships.

Statistical distortion is the heart and soul of the demagogue. Only the hard-core gays hang out in the traditional ghettos anymore - a recent survey found that 80% of gay men visit a 'gay venue' less than twice a year.

Why not go to the Vegas strip and find out what the typical American's gambling habits are too while we're at it? :)
5.1.2006 11:56am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
raj writes:

That article said nothing about monogamy in male homosexual relationships. It only purported to describe a survey, in one predominantly gay section of Chicago, that purported to show that gay men might be relatively promiscuous. It made no mention of whether those gay men were or were not in relationships.
And here you demonstrate the point that marriage doesn't mean the same thing to straight people as it does to gays. I know that there are straight people that don't stay faithful; I know that there are a few straight people whose notion of marriage doesn't include the concept of fidelity. You are acknowledging that for gay men, the notion of "relationship" simply does not include the concept of fidelity.

There's a legitimate question as how typical the surveyed population is of gay men. There are gay men who settle down and I will assume take fidelity quite seriously. (I would expect that these are the ones who are disproportionately HIV-.) But you have effectively admitted that you think of fidelity and "relationship" as unrelated issues for gay men.
5.1.2006 12:21pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):

But you have effectively admitted that you think of fidelity and "relationship" as unrelated issues for gay men.

He did no such thing, read what he said again:

That article said nothing about monogamy in male homosexual relationships. It only purported to describe a survey, in one predominantly gay section of Chicago, that purported to show that gay men might be relatively promiscuous. It made no mention of whether those gay men were or were not in relationships.

What he alluded to was this sampling because of its location might not be of'the marrying kind'. Gay ghettos are just that and now-a-days in most urban jurisdictions they appeal to only part of the local gay population. The referenced study was designed to identify patterns of social sexual organization in urban environments, NOT to find out what 'gay people' do as a population.

Over 13% of marriage contracts in the first year of equal access to all Massachusetts citizens were licensed to self-identified gay couples. That is over 6 times the out gay presence in the general population and that's even with it missing federal recognition.

Gay people couple up and marry just fine, and when available they even license the state contract at much higher rates than their straight peers. It takes some might dedicated spinning to try and say that gay people don't want to couple up and settle down.
5.1.2006 1:07pm
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):
Clayton, I don't see how RAJ acknowledged that the concepts of "fidelity" and "relationship" are unrelated for gay men. The critique of the the article on the Chicago survey is that it conflates promiscuity and infidelity/nonmonogamy. Your conclusion only makes sense if you define monogamy as only having one sex partner for your entire life, which is pretty rare for both gays and straights.

The survey looks at gay men's sexual behavior without considering whether they are single, in long-term relationships, or in open relationships. Thus, the survey does not enlighten us on whether gay men form long-term monogamous relationships. It only shows that urban gay men have more casual sex than straight people. That fact does not mean that gay men as a group reject monogamy. Some gay men do reject monogamy. Other gay men wholeheartedly embrace monogamy. I'd hazard a guess that a lot of gay men have promiscuous youths and later settle into monogamous relationships. But monogamy is certainly not a foreign concept for gay men.
5.1.2006 1:37pm
dweeb:
You might consider viewing marriage realistically, rather than cynically. That is, it's a legal commitment with costs as well as benefits.

And those costs and benefits have their greatest impact in modern times at the termination of marriage, where they have a grossly disparate impact based on gender.

To assume that it's merely a vehicle for women to exploit men is misogynistic, not "cynical".

It is not so by design, but divorce as administered currently effectively makes it so. There have been numerous commentaries on the reluctance of men to marry and women's consternation over this. Clearly, the men don't see the cost-benefit analysis working for them. In any event, there is no rational reason to marry except where childbearing or traditional moral precepts are a factor, neither of which apply to the demographic in question.
5.1.2006 1:59pm
raj (mail):
Clayton E. Cramer 5.1.2006 11:21am

You are acknowledging that for gay men, the notion of "relationship" simply does not include the concept of fidelity.

This is a joke, right? What I stated, and thereby acknowledged was that the survey mentioned in the article made no mention of whether the gay men who had been surveyed were or were not in relationships. If they are not in relationships, there is no issue of monogamy in male homosexual relationships, which is what Bart alleged that the article was supposed to relate to, is there?

There's a legitimate question as how typical the surveyed population is of gay men. (Emphasis added)

Aside from the fact that you will never know--because of the difficulty of identifying the gay male population--it is also irrelevant to the issue that was being addressed.

One final comment. It is interesting that much of the anti-equal-rights-for-gay-people crowd appear to fixate on what they believe to be short-comings among gay men, and pretty much ignore gay women (a/k/a "lesbians), as illustrated by the part of Cramer's comment that I bolded above. I have several theories about that--which are generally supported by evidence that I have adduced by chatting with people in the anti- crowd, but it would take too long to expound on them at this point.

Actually, one further comment, which I posted on a thread below. I have observed Cramer's comments regarding gay people off and on for several years, and he seems to have an unhealthy fascination with what gay people do. That is very strange for a presumed heterosexual.
5.1.2006 2:42pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Isn't it Ironic that gays kill each other by transmitting HIV to each other much more often than they are killed by homophobic gay bashers?
5.1.2006 9:22pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):

Isn't it Ironic that gays kill each other by transmitting HIV to each other much more often than they are killed by homophobic gay bashers?

No more so than heterosexual men kill women by transmitting the cervical cancer causing HPV (in far greater prevalence and far greater numbers). That is when they aren't beating them to death.

Isn't demagoguery fun? Let's all play...
5.2.2006 2:37pm
raj (mail):
Bob Van Burkleo 5.2.2006 1:37pm

It's never a good idea to feed the troll.
5.2.2006 3:36pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
ah its dead thread ;)
5.2.2006 6:27pm
Justin Cox (mail) (www):
Has everyone seen former Senator Jack Danforth's recent comments on the proposed Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? Danforth called it "silly". Inspiring stuff.
5.2.2006 9:53pm