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Gay Marriage Facts & Statistics

Find facts and statistics surrounding gay marriage including some gay marriage firsts.

1. Hawaii's Gay Wedding Attempts

Between March 1990 and June 1990, gay rights groups planning a lawsuit to gain legal marriage were involved in planning for the 1990 Hawaii Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade. As a form of protest, the group proposed that a large group of couples gather at the parade and be married by licensed ministers, before the beginning the lawsuit the next day. Thirty same-sex couples were recruited for the mass ceremony. Rev. Eugene Moore, pastor of the Ke Auenue O Ke Aloha Metropolitan Community Church and Rev. Troy Perry were lined up along with several others to perform the ceremonies. Because it was felt necessary to have legal support before the couples filed for marriage licenses, the mass wedding was scrapped.

Couples involved in the planned gay wedding attempt in Hawaii planned to be united by ordained ministers with traditional vows and exchange of rings.


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2. Schwarzenegger on Gay Marriage

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has attempted to give an impression of personal neutrality on the issue of gay marriage, but an examination of gay marriage facts indicate that he does not approve. The Governor vetoed California's same-sex marriage bill in 2005.

Schwarzenegger explained his action by stating that he believed that the bill was in essence illegal as it would have reversed the voter-backed 2000 definition that only a marriage between a man and a woman is legal in California. As California's gay community continues to fight for marriage, it remains to be seen whether the Governor will make is real stance clear.

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3. Gay Marriage Statistics

Opponent widely blast gay marriage as a detriment to the family unit, while at the same time declaring marriage to be the foundation of society. This contradiction implies that same-sex couples would, somehow, fail to succeed in marriage or benefit from the recognition given to heterosexual married couples by the government and society. Gay couples, it seems, disagree.

In the first six months since the legalization of gay marriage in New York State, more than 2,300 same-sex couples walked down the aisle outside of New York City, according to The New York Times. That number accounted for more than 7 percent of marriages that took place in the state, outside of the New York City metro area, during that same period.

Nationally, the first American Community Survey (ACS) reports on gay marriage from 2008 indicated that gay couples declared themselves married at a rate more than five times higher than the number of marriage licenses issued for gay marriages, according to “The Huffington Post.” This indicates that long-term gay couples view themselves as married – with the same commitment and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples, minus the perks – whether the law honors their relationships or not.

Statistics from the ACS also showed that a substantial number of same-sex households include children – nearly 27 percent of female same-sex household and nearly 14 percent of male same-sex households. So, if marriage is the foundation of society and the cornerstone of family life as gay marriage opponents claim, their position against it is as contradictory as their arguments.

Sources

“The New York Times” (2012)

“The Huffington Post” (2009)

U.S. Census Bureau (2011)

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4. Same Sex Marriage No Tax Break

In all, a same sex wedding provides few of the tax exemptions heterosexual couples are entitled to. As taxes are a state as well as federal issue in the US tax becomes more, rather than less, complicated for married American gay couples.

Although gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts gay couples still must pay their federal taxes as singles. Other taxes from which heterosexual couples are exempt, gay couples are still required to pay: heterosexual spouses can inherit each other's estates estate-tax-free and can give each other any amount tax-free while they are alive while gay married couples are limited to an $11,000 gift every year plus a total of $1 million in gifts over a lifetime. These discrepancies are due to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

There are ways that same-sex couples can provide for each other in the event of a death. Buying a life insurance policy and assigning it to a partner is considered a gift, so the giver can use the $11,000 annual gift to pay the yearly premiums. Gay spouses can also give some of the equity they have in a house to enable their partner to be a joint-owner, incurring no gift tax if the gift of the equity is diverted through a domestic partnership agreement. Inheritance taxes can be avoided by setting up a charitable remainder trust. Couples should speak to their accountant to explore the options available.


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5. Gay Marriage Firsts

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon have been in the forefront of the gay rights movement for decades, but they never thought they'd take their place in history because of it. In February of 2004, the couple had been together as a couple for more than 50 years. They lived together most of their adult lives and worked together for decades on lesbian rights issues. Although they are in a committed lifetime relationship, they never thought about marriage, considering it out of the realm of possibility.

On Wednesday, February 11, 2004, Phyllis Lyon got the call that would propel the couple into gay rights history. Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, called to ask if the couple would be willing to stand up and be known as the first married gay couple in America. Lyon asked her partner and together they agreed to step up and take the plunge.

About 20 friends and family members gathered to watch the wedding ceremony, held at San Francisco City Hall on February 13. At 11:06 a.m., the two women were legally pronounced "spouses for life" to the cheers and tears of the attendees. The ceremony was small and quick to prevent adverse publicity and to avoid possible legal problems from gay rights opponents. This small beginning with a loving couple has today blossomed into a growing movement to require marriage equality for every person in every state in the union.


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6. Gay Sex in America

Gay male sex was criminal in nine states of America until 2003. In Lawrence v. Texas the Supreme Court accepted the argument that if heterosexual couples were allowed to engage in sex that wasn't penis-vaginal, it was discriminatory to ban two men from doing the same. The court found that grounds of moral disapproval were insufficient to criminalize sex acts between two consenting adults.

This argument opened up the issue of gay marriage. Justice Antonin Scalia suggested in his summation that if banning a sex act was discriminatory, the same argument applied to the social act of gaymarriage. The New York court found that Lawrence concerned 'private activity,' whereas one of the gay marriage facts was that marriage is an inherently public act.


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7. Interracial Marriage and Gay Marriage

The struggle for gay marriage has clear parallels to the former interracial marriage ban that was once in place in America. Groups supporting interracial marriage ban talked about the divine law regarding marriage and the immorality and unnatural unions of interracial marriage.

Forty American states, including Massachusetts, once prohibited interracial marriage. Massachusetts banned interracial marriage around 1705, removing the ban in 1843 after a three year debate in government. In 1948, the California Supreme Court was the first state supreme court to declare a ban on interracial marriage unconstitutional. The decision was controversial, with the judgment stating that banning races from intermarrying was an offence against human worth and dignity. At that time, 38 states still forbade interracial marriage. The remaining bans were struck down by the US Supreme Court in 1967.

The struggle for interracial marriage was won on an argument for civil rights, one very similar to arguments used by those striving for a same sex wedding.


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