March 04, 2010
Rising tide of gay relationship recognition
Posted by: Chris
The Washington Post editorial page had it right yesterday when they wrote, "the tide of history is moving … toward a recognition that gays and lesbians, no less than heterosexuals, are entitled to sanctify their love in marriage, and that society will be better off when that right is universally extended." I wouldn't use the word "sanctify," since it conflates civil and religious marriage, but the tide, she is a-rising.
A new analysis of existing laws by Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin shows that nearly half of all Americans live where there is at least some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Some 140 million Americans (46% of the total U.S. population) live where gay couples can either marry or enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships:
- 5.1% (15.5 million) live in jurisdictions with same-sex marriage: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and (as of yesterday) the District of Columbia.
- 19.2% (58.4 million) live in states with either civil unions or their domestic partnerships equivalent, offering basically all the rights and responsibilities of marriage without the name: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington.
- 8.3% (25.2 million) live in states that recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere: New York and Maryland.
- 4.7% (14.2 million) live in states that offer domestic partnerships with limited, itemized rights: Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine and Rhode Island.
- 4.7% (14.2 million) live in dozens more counties and cities with some form of limited local recognition and benefits: Salt Lake City, UT; Phoeniz AZ; Tuscon AZ; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Lawrence, KS; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Louis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Cook County, IL (Chicago); Urbana, IL; Cleveland, OH; Cleveland Heights, OH; Toledo, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Harrisburg, PA; El Paso, TX; Travis County, TX (Austin); Eureka Springs, AR; New Orleans, LA; Carrboro, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Clarke County, GA (Athens); Fulton County, GA (Atlanta); Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale); Key West, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL.
Add up the first three categories and fully one-third (32.6%) of the U.S. population is located in jurisdictions where gay couples can either marry or have their marriage recognized or enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships with basically all the same rights and responsibilities of marriage without the name. That's still inversely related to public opinion surveys, which repeatedly show that two-thirds of Americans support marriage or civil unions for gay couples, but it's impressive nonetheless.
Still, let's not forget in all the excitement one more important statistic: 0%
That's the percentage of Americans who live in places where the federal government offers any form of recognition whatsoever for gay couples who are married or have entered into civil unions or domestic partnership. That final statistic is why repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and enacting federal civil unions ought to be at the very top of "the gay agenda" in Washington.
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