Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gay marriage by the numbers

During the whole "prop 8 hoopla" here in California I've heard a lot of seemingly wrong numbers to justify either position and I just thought I'd go through a couple of the numbers and go through where they come from (If I have been able to figure it out) and which are obviously wrong.

Gay marriages only last an average of 18 months

This is the biggest most obvious lie. As far as I could track it down this data comes from a Study performed in Holland. The study was on the relationships of HIV positive homosexuals and refers to their average relationship length. There are two obvious distortions here. First of all if you start out with a sample of HIV positives you will probably end up with a selection that is more promiscuous that the average. Secondly, it refers to relationship length. It has nothing to do with marriage length. Taking that into account I would have to say 18 months is actually pretty good. The fact is that since gay marriage is such a new occurrence there really isn't anywhere in the world where it has been around for long enough time to get statistics on this.

The divorce rate in the USA is 60%

This number is too high as far as I have been able to find it. The US Census Bureau has data on this and also the National Center for Health Statistics makes projections on the data. Depending on how you measure it they give estimates somewhere between 43% and 50%. The National Center for Health Statistics estimate found that 43% of first marriages end in separation or divorce within 15 years. The 50% estimate is based on just measuring the number of marriages and divorces for each year and dividing the two.

Gay people don't have enduring relationships

There have been tons of studies on this which indicate that between 40% and 80% (With lesbian women being slightly better at this than gay men) of interviewees at any given point are in a stable relationship. According to the information I've found it seems that this corresponds pretty well to the statistics of heterosexual people as well.

When gay marriage is allowed less heterosexuals tend to get married

This is the weirdest one and I have to say I have simply found nothing to back this up or debunk it (I'm guessing it is just so off the wall that nobody who actually does studies like this has found it worthwhile to investigate). I can sort of guess that it refers to the increasing tendency in certain parts of Europe for people to not get married even though a couple live together and have children. This was a tendency that started long before gay marriage has been allowed (For instance it is very common in Sweden and they don't have legal gay marriage yet). I know several of these couples at home and I usually the reason I hear for it is that the people involved in them just feel that marriage is just a piece of paper so why would they bother. I have never heard anybody use the reason that if gay people can get married they don't want it.

Domestic partnership is the same as marriage

This obviously varies from state to state but here are the major differences int the state of California as far as I've figured it out.

  • The biggest area of inequality was in regards to employment benefits for spouses. Many employers refused to offer same-sex couples the same health insurance benefits as married couples.
  • It is a lot easier to dissolve a domestic partnership than a marriage. Specifically to dissolve a marriage at least on of the two people involved need to have been living in California for at least 6 months.
  • You don't need witnesses to create a domestic partnership (You do to form a marriage).

No comments: