Hey Massachusetts — How's That Same-Sex Marriage Thing Working Out?
On May 17, 2004, same-sex couples became legally able to marry in Massachusetts. What's life been like in New England since then? Here are some statistics from Newsweek's May 23, 2005 issue:
Number of same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts from May 17, 2004 until February, 2005: 6,142
Number of male couples: 2,170
Number of female couples: 3,972
Number of heterosexual marriages in Massachusetts during that time: 30,872
Okay, so the first thing we've learned is that there have been a good number of same-sex marriages in the first year. Just under 20%, actually, which is quite a bit higher than the high-end of estimates I've seen of the gay population in the U.S. This might imply that gays are more committed in relationships than heterosexuals, or it might just be a high number because being able to marry was (and is) still fairly new in Mass.
Public support in Massachusetts for marriage equality in April, 2005: 56%
Public support one year ago: 35%
Whoa — you mean to tell me that as gay marriages have occurred, people seem to be lightening up about them? You think maybe it's because same-sex marriage isn't the beginning of the end like so many people claim?
Percentage of Massachusetts voters who believe gay marriage has had a positive or no impact on the quality of life in Massachusetts: 84%
Holy cow! Now you're telling me that not only do people realize it's not that bad of an idea, but 84% believe that it's either been good for the state or had no effect at all. Oh man, don't show these statistics to G.W. Bush.
But then we're brought back to the other 49 states.
Public support across the nation for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman: 53%
Number of states that have amended their constitutions to ban gay marriage since 2004: 14
So, there's lots of work to be done on the rest of the nation. I can't help but feel a tad bit optimistic that the numbers turned around so much in Mass over the past year, though. Granted that state skews pretty far to the left, but they do have a Republican governor now.
Even if same-sex marriages aren't allowed in any other states, if we can at least stop current efforts to flat-out ban it — and roll back laws and amendments in states that currently ban it — it's a step in the right direction. After all, even if the Founding Fathers wouldn't approve of gay marriage themselves, I think they would have recognized the inherent danger in removing or restricting any citizen's rights.