Editors note: This is the first in a series of articles about same sex marriage. The author, Doug Mainwaring, is a principled conservative residing in Montgomery County, MD who is gay. He is a cofounder of National Capital Tea Party Patriots and his commentaries regarding the Tea Party movement and conservative issues have appeared in The Washington Times, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Wall Street Journal, American Thinker and others.
Over the last few weeks Doug testified in Annapolis before the Maryland Senate Judiciary Committee and the House of Delegates Joint Committee (Judiciary and Government Operations) Hearing in opposition to same sex marriage, and spent many days lobbying individual legislators as well.
The big question which this series seeks to answer is: “Who is really behind the push for same sex marriage and what is their motivation?” The answer may surprise you.
Here is a link to a recording of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s testimony and Doug’s opposing testimony before the Maryland Senate Judiciary Committee on January 31 regarding the Same Sex Marriage legislation. (The Governor speaks during the first two minutes or so then Doug for the final 2 minutes — just click on “in this podcast”).
Conflating the issues of same-sex marriage and gay rights
When did it become controversial not to support same sex marriage? And why is there now such an enormous push across our nation toward its normalization?
The national conversation about the issue of same sex marriage has been aggressively fused with the issue of gay rights. Many media commentators, politicians, and lobbyists easily conflate the two issues, promoting the notion among the general public that those who oppose same sex marriage are unsophisticated, bigoted and homophobic. This is a disingenuous impugnment: One can be completely supportive of gays while being opposed to gay marriage.
The issue of same sex marriage has been hijacked by politicians and ideologues in the interest of pursuing broader political gain.
Sadly, at the same time it also has been turned into a faux-civil rights issue, diminishing the meaning of the centuries-long struggle by Blacks for equality. If this truly were a matter of civil rights, President Obama would have unhesitatingly championed same sex marriage throughout his presidency, knowing that he is on the side of right. In the President’s own words his views on gay marriage are “evolving.” Why? Because his support is the product of complicated political calculations, not a heartfelt sense of justice.
The same holds true for Maryland’s Governor O’Malley. Until a few months ago, Governor Martin O’Malley was content to stay in the background on same sex marriage, clearly revealing that he does not view this as a legitimate civil rights issue. If he did, he would have been out in front of this on both a state and a national level long ago. His current vocal support is nothing more than treading safely in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s larger footsteps, all in the name of political opportunism.
Judging by current statistics, a mandate to institute same sex marriage doesn’t exist — even among gays and lesbians. Not supposition, empirical fact.
Inflating numbers to win support
On November 10, I attended the US Senate Judiciary Committee’s meeting on the “Respect for Marriage Act” (S. 598), a bill which is intended to undo DOMA. At that hearing, Senator Diane Feinstein, author of the legislation, said, “There are 131,000 legally married same-sex couples.” This was false.
2010 U.S. Census figures reveal that 131,729 same-sex couples checked “husband” or “wife” boxes on their census forms, but this gives a snapshot of the states of mind of these gay and lesbian couples, not a true picture of the actual number of legal same-sex marriages.
A Census Bureau consultant, Gary Gates of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, puts the actual number of legally recognized gay partnerships at 100,000 — a number which reflects not the total number of same-sex marriages, but the sum of the number of marriages, plus civil unions plus domestic partnerships in the U.S.
In fact, according to a report issued by the Williams Institute in February: “Approximately 50,000 same-sex couples have married, based on the number of couples who have married in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire, according to administrative data from those states, (including) estimates for same-sex couples marrying in California and the District of Columbia.”
At this point in time, the actual total number is probably between 55,000 and 60,000 U.S. same sex marriages. Senator Feinstein’s claim was inflated by more than 100%.
The statistics tell a different story
After the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, attention immediately shifted to making same-sex marriage the moral and legal equivalent of heterosexual marriages. Was the shift due to a huge pent-up demand by gays to marry? If so, one would have expected massive stampedes to the departments of licensing in those states which have instituted same-sex marriage immediately after having become law. However, the mad dash to the altar by couples dressed in matching tuxedos or wedding dresses has never really materialized.
Heading into Sunday July 24, the first day that same-sex couples could legally wed in New York City, officials devised a lottery system to handle the projected 2,500 couples they thought would want to marry on that auspicious day. However, by the time the 48-hour lottery had closed on the preceding Thursday, only 823 couples had signed up, slightly less than one third (33%) of the anticipated demand. And of course that number is further diluted because it reflects the availability of same sex marriage not only to New Yorkers, but to anyone from another state.
In Massachusetts, more than 6,200 gay and lesbian couples were married during the first year that same sex couples were permitted to marry. That number dwindled to just 1,900 marriages the following year – about 5% of the total number of marriages performed in the state.
In Iowa, between April 2009 and March 2010, 2,020 same-sex couples were married, (about 10% of all marriages in Iowa during that time period). 815 couples were from Iowa (about 4% of all Iowa marriages), and the rest were mostly from surrounding states.
These statistics are not indicative of stampedes. With the number of same-sex couples now on a trajectory to cross over the one million mark, this means that only about 5 or 6% of same-sex couples have availed themselves of the ability to marry in this country. Further, if there are around ten million adult gays and lesbians in the US (about 3.5% of the population according to a Williams Institute Poll), then only about 1 in 100, or 1% have chosen marriage so far, statistically a fairly negligible amount. If the true number of gays and lesbians is closer to 10% of the population (as many have held for so long), then the number of gays choosing marriage is only 1 in 300, or about 0.3%. Wherever the actual percentage is on this spectrum, it seems that gay marriage is treated as far from mainstream even within the gay community.
Charitable giving by the LGBT community also tells a tale: The 2011 National LGBT Movement Report: A Financial Overview of Leading Advocacy Organizations in the LGBT Movement, (December 2011), states, “Even an optimistic estimate concludes that fewer than 3% of LGBT adults give to national LGBT organizations.” This means that more than 97% of self identified gays and lesbians haven’t made a financial donation toward the cause of same sex marriage. Since the Movement Advancement Project Report covers giving by gays and lesbians to all LGBT “social justice advocacy, legal, public education, research and academic organizations,” the actual percentage of gays and lesbians who have contributed specifically to same sex marriage efforts is far less than 3% of the LGBT Community.
As it turns out, the pent-up demand for same-sex marriage was never all that pent-up, and the demand in general for marriage among gays and lesbians appears to be quite anemic.
Since the gay community is not digging into its collective pockets to fund the battle to institute same sex marriage, and since gays and lesbians are not racing to get married, who then is actually behind the massive push for same-sex marriage in our country?
The answer, in Part II, involves true believers in the religion of big Government, such as White House Regulation Czar, Cass Sunstein.
Update: Part II is here.