Must we do everything? By we, I mean “the gays.” We’re like modern-day Pilgrims who move into previously owned neighborhoods and houses, rehab them and turn them and the shops and restaurants that follow into the “it” destinations. And now it might be up to gay men and lesbians to save yet another neighborhood of sorts — marriage.
A Pew Research Center studyreleased yesterday shows that the proportion of married adults 18 years and older dropped from 57 percent in 2000 to 51 percent today. The number of new marriages between 2009 and 2010 dropped 5 percent. Startling statistics, for sure. But as I read The Post story on married couples at record lows I couldn’t help but wonder about all those same-sex couples eager to join the dying institution and make it their own.
According to the Census Bureau, “A married couple, as defined for census purposes, is a husband and wife enumerated as members of the same household.” But during the 2010 census the agency also did a count of same-sex couples. According to an AP storyin September, about 650,000 gay men and lesbians reported living with a same-sex partner, and more than 130,000 said they were married.
When those numbers were released marriage equality was legal in just five states and the District of Columbia. New York became the the sixth state in June. Same-sex marriage became legal in the District in March 2010. Six months into the new law’s effect, D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) told me that data from D.C. Superior Court suggested that more same-sex couples were getting married here than heterosexual couples.
In 2009, there were 3,096 licenses issued for the entire year (averages out to 258 a month). From January 1, 2010, to March 2, 2010 (the last day before marriage equality went into effect in the District), 376 licenses were issued. From March 3, 2010, to Sept. 29, 2010, there were 4,789 licenses issued. Using the 2009 average of 258 licenses a month, then in that same time period in 2009 there were approximately 2,322 marriage licenses issued. By Sept. 29, 2010, there had been 5,125 licenses issued during 2010, an increase of more than 2,800 licenses compared with the same time the previous year.
Now, according to the latest numbers provided by Catania’s office from D.C. Superior Court, from the date same-sex marriage became legal (March 3, 2010) until Oct. 21, 2011, there were 10,751 applications for marriage licenses filed. In the 365 days ending March 2, 2010, the court received 3,101 applications. In the year ending March 2 of this year, the number of applications more than doubled to 6,604.
I made you plod through those numbers to hammer home what should be an obvious point. Marriage is a revered institution that many gay and lesbian couples are eager to belong to. They want the rights, responsibilities and societal validation that come with it. And they want the respect and dignity it gives their families. Why those who claim to care about such a highly regarded institution would deny members who want nothing more than to help keep it alive is beyond comprehension. No, I’ll be blunt. It’s stupid.