Shocked About New York Gay Marriage

I saw on the news the other day that on the first day of LGBT couples having the right to get legally married in New York, the New York City Clerks Office (NYCCO) reported that a record 659 marriage licenses were picked up. The NYCCO, and the news outlet, didn’t explain what “record” meant, so I’m not sure what metric they were using to describe such a number being a record. What I do know is that 659 seems kind of low. I would have thought that for the city with the most people in the United States, and thus, a huge LGBT population, more than 659 couples would want to get married? I mean, that’s only 1,318 people total.

It’s a strangely low number to me for two specific reasons. First, the overwhelming majority of the LGBT community and its allies are hanging their hat on the marriage topic as the civil rights issue of the day. It’s about justice and oppression and fairness and equality and legality. That is why I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that only 659 couples went to get their license – especially since the major argument for gay marriage proponents is that the norm in the LGBT community is long term committed monogamous relationships. This is not to say that long term committed monogamous relationships are not the norm, but I am suggesting that logically, I would think there would have been more than 659 couples wanting to get their license on such a historic day in such a historic city.

Secondly, with so much build up as with the topic of gay marriage, many would have the world believe this topic is like water boiling to the top about to explode and overflow! If that is the situation, then why so few? I mean if heterosexual people were not given the right to marry, fought fiercely for it, and finally won in the city with the greatest amount of people, my guess is the line to get a marriage license would be miles long. Now I know the proportionate number of hetero vs. LGBT people weighs heavily towards hetero, but  I believe the percentages back up this point:

If there are 9 million people in NYC, and if the LGBT community makes up on average 5% of the population, that means there are about 450,000 LGBTs in NYC. That also means that 0.3% of the LGBT community in NYC were in enough of a committed monogamous relationship to physically go and get their marriage license on that day. 0.3% seems like an awfully low number to me.

I’m not making any judgement statements about gay marriage. I’m not trying to subliminally suggest anything. I am, however, reacting to a number I was shocked to see after all of the build up; because I believe that the baseline goal from within the LGBT community are committed monogamous relationships.

What are your thoughts?

Much love.

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  • Stephanie

    I have a handful of thoughts… I think what is important to tease out is that those 659 couples are couples that 1. didn’t want to wait to organize a wedding/event style marriage; 2. they wanted the marriage certificate. For a lot of same sex couples I know, the right to marry has been denied for so long that it seems silly to now go out and get something from the state, when they already know the truth of their relationship.

    I think, too, that for many folks the biggest issue isn’t marriage, unless it is to de-privilege marriage on the state level so that religious institutions are performing the marriages they feel they need to be a part of and the folks that would only get a marriage certificate for the tax benefits are no longer an issue at any level because there would be no tax breaks for married couples.

    I think your reasoning that if hetero-couples weren’t allowed to get married for a time, and then they were, there would be a rush, is too simplistic. Same-sex couple have been shoved out of most institutions, and so those relationships no longer need outside recognition… If the same could be said of opposite sex couples, imagine if the world were turned around and same-sex relationships were the expected, allowed norm. I don’t think you’d find many opposite sex couples rushing out after some state finally decided to recognize and “allow” those couples to exist.

    • Stephanie – Thanks for the comment. A few thoughts –

      1. I have heard similar things from older LGBT friends of mine about being denied marriage for so long why would it matter to get married now. I agree with you on that. The one thing I would add is that, the majority of my friends, who said that, also then said, “But we’d get married anyway to get all of the legal benefits.”

      2. I don’t think the argument is too simplistic because many LGBT marriage activists make it a simplistic argument about the legal, health, tax and estate benefits that come with such a status. Why then, would so many actively decide not to get those important equalities?

      I’d love to hear your thoughts…

      • Stephanie

        I don’t have much time, but the initial thought I have about the legal benefits is that you have to give it more time. If folks only want the benefits, I would imagine (at least, if it were me), that they would be just fine with waiting until the chaos dies down to go get a piece of paper. You know? If it’s not about recognition, then why bother with the crazy lines and lottery system?

        And I know the advocates have made it a really simplistic argument. I don’t think that you can still make a parallel argument about hetero marriage because it has been privileged, essentially since the dawn of time.

        And yes, to respond to you below… the whole life path expectation is ridiculous and absolutely not found in the Bible.

        • Thanks for writing back Stephanie! I totally hear you with being ‘bothered’ with the line and lottery, etc. If it were me in that situation, I would wait it out too! I definitely see the logic of that.

  • Adam

    It also has to do with how many people can logistically be married. Apparently the clerk’s office instituted a lottery do deal with the more than 2600 requests they had for that day as they simply could only handle a certain volume.

    Let’s give it a couple months and then see what the numbers look like.

    • Adam – Thanks for that link! I didn’t see it before!

      The thing that is running through my head is that even if there were 2,600-ish requests, that is still 0.01% of the estimated LGBT population in NYC.

      I do think, however, that the next generation’s LGBT marriage will match that of heterosexuals. I figured it would be lower this first time around because, as Stephanie said, many, because of being denied their whole life, won’t want to join such an institution. I was just shocked at how low that number actually was – even with the lottery.

      • ChadNYC


        You need to move your decimal point. It’s actually 1%, not 0.01% (2600 applications = 5200 individuals, 5,200/450,000 = 1%). Not a bad number at all for one day! At that rate, we’ll ALL be married by November 1st! I suppose this means all the gay bars will be closed by Christmas! 🙂

        • ChadNYC – Adam corrected me on my math below 🙂 Sorry!

          And you’re hilarious, for real!:

          “At that rate, we’ll ALL be married by November 1st! I suppose this means all the gay bars will be closed by Christmas!”

          Thanks for bringing that smile to my face this morning…

      • Lindsay

        Adam — Maybe it’s a moot point, but your math is quite off. By your “0.01%” calculation, you are stating there are 42 million members of the LGBT in New York City. The entire population of the state of NY is less than half that. But I digress.

        I think the important thing here isn’t numbers, but opportunity. Most people I know don’t just run out and get married the first day that is available. I’m sure some had weddings -or elopements, as it may be- planned despite the fact that they couldn’t legally marry, but I am also sure there are thousands of couples who are just now taking the time to thoughtfully plan the biggest day of their lives. Most people I know take a year or more to plan a wedding. Just remember: sheer numbers are not tantamount to success or failure, but only the chance for opportunity…. and, perhaps, equality.

  • Stephanie

    Sorry, one more comment.

    I’m not really sure why it is that we expect everyone to want to conform to the heteronormative standard. It seems rather presumptuous to assume that everyone wants our (normative, predominantly white, middle class, protestant, hetero) approval for their love. Like, really? Why do we expect people to want to prove themselves suddenly?

    I think the marriage push has simplified a complex issue of heteronormativity, homophobia, and heterosexism down to one piece of paper. When people are still regularly beaten on the street.

    • No problem Stephanie…love your thoughts.

      I couldn’t agree with you more on the expectation to a heteronormative standard! I don’t understand, even in hetero existence, why the acceptable norm is to grow up and get married and have kids and expect those kids to fall in line with the same pattern, etc. Who gets to dictate what is normal?

      Personally, I don’t see anywhere in the New Testament that says this way of live should be ‘normal.’ What it does say is that if one is too tempted and too weak, ok, get married then (1 Cor 7:9). That doesn’t sound like much of a pattern of normal to me?! I don’t mind if people get married, but getting married for the expectation that such a thing is the acceptable cultural medium of engagement… not so much.

  • Adam

    I’ll take issue with your math. You forgot that when calculating percentages, you multiply by 100. It was 0.3% of the NYC GLBT population that got married that day — about 1 in every 300 GLBT people.

    And given that your estimate of total GLBT people include all the singles, the partnered-but-not-engaged, and even the closeted — 1 in 300 isn’t a shabby figure.

    Plus, while that one day was special and all, if I were getting married, I’d want to do, y’know, a *wedding* — invitations, family, reception, the whole deal. All those weddings are still coming up.

    • Oh man! You’re so right. I’m sorry. It is 0.3%! I will change that now from 0.003%. This also means that the 2,600 mentioned above would be 1%. Thank you so much for that correction.

      And 1% is most definitely a bigger sounding number! I still, however, believe that even at 1%, the way media and politics and activists portray such a landmark decision in a landmark city, that number would have been much higher. But I am seeing where you’re coming from with the planning, etc. (See my previous comment to you above regarding the next generation).

      • Adam C.

        Heh… the Adam above is actually a different Adam. 🙂

  • Deb A

    If I am not mistaken, I believe I heard that both the state and the city put a cap on the number of licenses they could issue that day, due to the workload involved by city/state workers. Also, keep in mind alot of gay/lesbian etc folks want a very traditional wedding, just like their heterosexual peers. They don’t want to be one of a big bunch, they want to have time to plan it to make it special, to give their friends and families time to be there for the day.

  • Abi

    I do not know any better numbers, but I am aware that the state did a lottery for people applying for marriage licenses that day. They knew they could only process a limited number of licenses and marriages that day and limited that number. And the first day was a Sunday, so not even every city/county/town etc performed them on that day. I really don’t believe this number to be shockingly low but controlled based on what they could handle. It would be interesting to know how many more have been married this week during normal business hours throughout the state. So I respectfuly disagree with your shock and logic on the numbers seeming low.

    • Hey Abi! Thanks for commenting! It’s all good to disagree with me… I’m not right on everything 🙂

      It will be very interesting to see how the numbers progress over the next few months. I’m going to try and keep an eye on them because I would be interested to see if it was just a result of being a controlled situation. I do think that the next generation of LGBT marriage will probably match that of hetero marriage, and I figured this first go-around would be less. I was just a little shocked at the low numbers though. But, if it was as controlled as many of you are suggesting, I totally understand that, then.

  • Karen Bowlby

    hey friend – as someone who lives in nyc, I feel like I can prob speak a little to this. There was, apparently, a cap put on the number of licenses that could be issued, as well as a waiver that people had to get for that first day so certain paperwork could be rushed, etc.

    Also, knowing New Yorkers – not everyone is going to want to rush their weddings… there are going to be some massively big parties coming up in the next year or two – we take every opportunity to celebrate, and a wedding is no exception. Everyone in NYC wants to go to a wedding, to be a plus one at a wedding, etc.

    There have also been events planned for more weddings that people may be waiting for – there is a “free wedding” in Central Park on Saturday that will include vendors, etc.

    Trust me, the weddings are coming – have no fear – but we New Yorkers don’t do things half-assed 😉

    • Hahaha! So true! You NYCers know how to do things big! I get the actual wedding celebration and how in many situations that would have to wait. I just thought that the number of people getting the symbolic piece of paper would have been greater. But as I said above, if it was very controlled with a cap on the number, then I understand why it was so low.

  • 659, huh? Actually, I’m surprised it was that many. I have long said that I do not believe activists when they say this is about marriage “rights” (we can have another discussion about whether or not there is such a right). I believe about this issue what I believe about so many other issues, both right- and left-wing. It is a strawman. It is a convenient excuse to demand they (we, whatever) be heard.

    I’m just as gay as a goose and, frankly, I couldn’t care less about marriage. I’ve seen enough marriages of family and friends deteriorate in front of my eyes that I say, “who needs it!” The state has no business being in the marriage business…period! Let churches handle that and let the government collect taxes from everyone, married or not.

    Marriage is only the issue until it’s not the issue anymore. As soon as marriage “rights” are granted universally, which they one day will be, there will be a new issue. There is always a new issue because people get bored with the old ones.

    …in my humble and clearly very cynical opinion…

    • Thanks for the comment Sans! Great to hear from you again!

      When I first saw the 659 number I thought that was high as well, until I thought about the millions in NYC and then it didn’t seem so high anymore. I do fully agree with you regarding the right- and left- arguments about “issues.”

    • Sans: You have control over your own marriage. Not anyone else’s. If you (hypothetical you, not you you) make the commitment to marry, you focus on enhancing, building up, and maintaining your own family, not the families of others.

      • Jon, you’re absolutely right and I understand that. My point about not caring about marriage is a completely personal opinion. However, I can never accept state sanctioning of an institution that is obviously a spiritual one. I feel the same way about non-profit organizations paying taxes. If I were king of the world, everybody would pay the exact same amount of taxes and nobody would be exempt for any reason.

        I understand also that this issue isn’t just about taxes, but that is the “benefit” of marriage I chose to highlight. 🙂

  • Andrew: How many marriage licenses does the city of New York usually process in one day? Especially on a Sunday? Just because those couples got married on Sunday doesn’t mean that other couples haven’t been marrying on other days following that.

    Many people don’t want to get married with a crowd of strangers and reporters and protesters gawking. Some people want to plan a nice wedding and need more than a month to get things together. They want a personal wedding. Not a public spectacle.

    Don’t forget, Mark and I waited nearly a year to marry when it became legal. We might’ve done a quicky wedding if we didn’t have the kids, but beyond that we didn’t have time to do anything sooner because of work schedules and wedding planning and money and a few other reasons.

    • You’re always so balanced and level-headed Jon. Thanks for always putting things in perspective for me through your personal experiences. Seriously.

    • Thanks Jon! I just found this blog and as I browsed through reading, I had to comment on this one. I’m gay, and I live in New York (state) and I’ve had many a conversation with people about this very topic. Many scoffers love to bring up that the day came and went without a flurry of gay weddings, and so my support of the marriage equality movement must have been based on manipulative lies to pass a law. Other allies were frustrated, expecting to see gay weddings on every corner all across the state. My response is always the same: what if it were your son or daughter? Your friend? Your parent? Someone from your close circle?

      Weddings are extremely meaningful, personal, and detailed events to pull off. The dates usually are chosen with care, as are all the details of the event. So give us a break, and extend to us the same grace everyone wants: to plan their wedding on their terms, in their time, in the way that means the most to them and their community.

      Jon nailed it.

  • Alex

    If it’s any consolation, we had 3 couples come up to Binghamton from NYC to do the paperwork (smaller town, less line, though it still took awhile). Who knows if that was true in other parts of the state. Also remember, by executive order NYS has been recognizing SSM performed in other juristictions, so many couples have been married in Vermont and Canada prior to this ruling.

    I also ditto both points about not planning a wedding in 2 months and the critique on heteronormitivity. It’s not like those “short Christian engagements” my sister’s joked about before their weddings where there is going to be some revelation on the honeymoon. I, personally, tend resonate with some of the feminist’s critique of marriage as well as the whole muddled issue of how current marriage procedure is too much of meshing of church and state. I went with my partner to get a license anyway, though, choosing to submit to her definition of marriage.

    • Alex – Thanks for sharing your story about that! A few thoughts:

      1. I was only working off of the reported numbers, so thanks for reminding us that there were other suburbs that such licenses could get picked up.

      2. I feel you regarding some of that feminist critique. I mentioned some of my thoughts on it above in reply to Stephanie.

      • Alex

        btw, Binghamton is like 3 and a half hours from the city

  • Hey Andrew,

    I think others have already covered most of this, but frankly, the numbers don’t surprise me at all. Out of all the same-sex-attracted (gay or bi) people living in New York City, there are surely:

    – Some who see their attractions as something to be fought against, and/or who do not accept themselves as gay;
    – Some who accept themselves but are in the closet for personal or career reasons and so must keep their relationships private;
    – Some who are out but are not seeking a romantic relationship;
    – Some who are seeking a romantic relationship but not one that is long-term and monogamous;
    – Some who are seeking a monogamous, long-term relationship but are currently single;
    – Some who are in a committed relationship but it is with someone of the opposite sex (quite a few bisexuals);
    – Some who are in a committed same-sex relationship but haven’t been together long enough yet to make a marriage commitment;
    – Some who have been together long enough but choose not to call it “marriage” or aren’t interested in state recognition for personal reasons;
    – Some who are ready to get married but wish to plan a ceremony first;
    – Some who aren’t planning a ceremony first but whose schedules did not permit them to apply on the first day;
    – And some (probably quite a few) who could have applied but wanted to avoid the predictable media spectacle and chaos and thus decided to wait until things quieted down.

    So it’s not just a matter of “those who applied on the first day” versus “those who don’t actually believe in marriage after all.” There are lots of people who presumably weren’t ready but want to have the option in the future, and even then there were still more applications than the state could handle. (I’d guess that plenty of people expected that and so decided not to try to apply for the first day anyway, to let others work out the kinks in the system first.)

    For those who were most passionate about the fight, especially those with strong political views on the subject, being in line on the first day was likely an important symbol. But for many, there’s no rush, either because they view it as a personal step they’d rather do quietly once the media has gone home, or because they view it as a mere paperwork formality for something they’ve had for a long time. (And how many of us rush to do our taxes on January 1?)

    As for me, I definitely want to get married when the time comes. I just have to meet the right guy first.

    Justin Lee
    Executive Director
    The Gay Christian Network

    • Yes, most definitely! You make some amazing points! Thanks for those Justin. I was not trying to suggest that out of the 450,000 people (250,000 potential couples), and numbers of others who have a same-sex attraction and are currently trying to find their place, or those that are in any one of the things you listed, I didn’t expect the majority to all line up. I don’t actually know what number I expected. All I know is that when I saw 659 I was surprised. This current post came out of that initial reaction. As always, I appreciate the level, and full spectrum in your communication. And yes, I will accept the invitation to your wedding now, in advance 🙂

  • Wes

    Our government offers tax credits for having children. Not everyone is rushing off to get pregnant, though. Just because the benefit is there, doesn’t mean that everyone is ready for it or SHOULD do it.

    • That is so true! The reason I brought that point up was because that has been the main argument for why gay marriage should become legal.

  • I’m sure someone’s already said this, but many people were fighting for the right to get married so that it could actually be a legitimate part of their future.

    By that, I mean, many people were fighting to have the right to get married when they find the person they want to love, give of themselves to and serve. They may not have that person yet, or they may be working towards that goal with someone, but they fought so that the it could become a reality at some point in their future.

    Also, I’m sure there are plenty of people who want to host an event wedding and sign their license there. Honestly, I would rather do that myself.

    And lastly, I’m sure there are some couples who have been surviving without the benefits and living in union without the states consent for long enough that they don’t really mind. I wouldn’t say there are necessarily a ton of people who feel that way, but after a long while, I’m sure they are content and happy with the life they’ve built through hardship.

    Just some thoughts. 🙂

  • Sandra

    I know that this has been covered partly in the previous comments, but why is there so much interest in the first day of licences! It was a lottery and a record was granted.

    Surely the attractiveness of having the right to marry and the option of taking this up needs to be looked at over a year then five years. ( Isuppose then we will see statistics on longevity of LGBT marriages)
    The other obvious comment is whether one would want the media circus around your wedding as what occurred. Most people, (both straight and gay) would prefer it to be a “private, intimate event” with family and friends!
    I think it is wonderful that States and countries (not Australia yet unfortunately) are granting these civil rights to all adults! I think the time for discrimination should end as it has in areas of employment and other civil issues.
    Interesting take Andrew and I have enjoyed the threads!

  • OK…I truly don’t mean to cause a big stink here (even though in my mind I know this will), but would someone please point me to a document, ANY document, where there is granted a “right” to be married?? And, I’m not just talking about the right for a homosexual couple to be married, I’m talking about any governmental document in existence that grants any couple, be they hetero, homo, tripo, quatro…whatever sexual, the “right” to be married!

    You won’t find one. THAT is why I say there should be an end to the state sanctioning of marriage altogether!

    • Sans: What the heck is a “tripo sexual” or a “quatro sexual”?

      Marriage has been regulated by governmental entitities for thousands of years. In the US, the Supreme Court has repeatedly acknowledged the right to marriage, among other rights that aren’t specifically mentioned in our Constitution.

      Legal marriage does have a purpose. It bestows rights and obligations on married couples. It protects the children in those famiily units. It gives spouses control of each others resources and debts. It allows them to make life & death decisions for each other when the other is incapcitated. It allows the smooth transition of property between spouses following the death of the other. Etc, etc, etc…

      Ideally, marriage is difficult to get out of and frankly it should be difficult to get out of. It’s not in society’s interest for people to be legally irresponsbile for the debts and obligations of their spouses. It’s not in society’s interest for people to walk away from their spouse whenever. It’s not in society’s interest for children to have parents who aren’t legally related to each other. We’ve lived in this culture for the past couple decades of no-fault divorces and non-married cohabitating relationships and are experiencing the consequences of that type of loose familial obligations.

      I often hear people argue that government should get out of the marriage business. I hear it a lot. That is, I hear it a lot when the subject of gays marrying comes up. I never hear it when straight people get married. I almost never hear people discourage straight people from filing for a marriage license or questioning why they need one. I wonder why?

      • You take me too literally. Obviously, “tripo” and “quatro” sexual are words I made up to illustrate the point that obviously you missed. I am, in fact, not only suggesting the government get out of the marriage business because gays want to marry. I have discouraged a number of heterosexual couples from getting married. As a matter of principle, I discourage every couple I know be they homo- or heterosexual from marrying. I do this because I believe that the institution of marriage is a spiritual one and should remain such. There are plenty of legal means to protect assets, children, etc. that do not require a marriage license.

        As far as the Supreme Court of the United States is concerned, they have deemed many things “rights” that are not. The only “rights” we have are those granted us by the Constitution (that pesky document people like to ignore until it suits them not to), and the last time I checked there is no “right” to marry granted ANYONE by the Constitution. So, we can call anything we choose a “right” but that does not make it one. As my grandfather loved to say, “You can point to a pig all day long and say, ‘look at that dog’, but when you whistle for him, he ain’t gonna come!”

        There is no “right” to marry — for anyone! Not for heterosexuals and not for homosexuals, just as there is no “right” to privacy, no “right” to an education, no “right” to healthcare, and on and on. There are privileges granted by law, but there is not now, nor has there ever been a “right” to marry.

        • Actually, I got your “tripo” and “quatro” comments. I felt that they trivialized your original point.

          I assume that you actively encourage every married person that you know to divorce. Then again, I question how many gay couples you discourage from legally marrying given that I don’t believe that you live anywhere near a marriage equality state, from what I recall of your blogging. I could be mistaken though on that point.

          Regardless, I will leave you to your lonely campaign to destroy the legal institution of marriage. In my opinion, it’s a sad goal in life. But it’s your life.

          I will continue to celebrate the various families in my life. And I encourage others to celebrate the various families in their lives, too.

          • Wow…that’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?

            “I will leave you to your lonely campaign to destroy the legal institution of marriage. In my opinion, it’s a sad goal in life. But it’s your life.”

            My goal is not to “destroy the legal institution of marriage” but rather to make marriage the SACRED institution I believe it is. Of course I don’t encourage couples who are already married to get a divorce. What would be the point in that?? My desire that the goverment get out of the marriage business has nothing whatever to do with my feelings about divorce. I expect you know that, but are just irritated at my opinion so you want to trivialize what I’m saying….so be it.

            Actually, Jon, I don’t know any gay couples who are very desirous of marriage at this point. But, if I did, my encouragement to them would be the same as with the straight couples I know who are — get married in the church, synagogue, mosque or whatever other spiritual setting you choose because that is where marriage belongs.

            I, too celebrate the various families in my life. Nothing I said about marriage not being a “right” should lead you to believe otherwise. Please don’t put words in my mouth and I will afford you with the same respect.

            • Mrs T

              There is a columnist in the Chicago Tribune newspaper called Eric Zorn who advocates that everyone gets a civil union & that they go to their religious(or secular) institution of choice for a ceremony if they want to call it marriage. That makes a lot of sense from a legal as well as religious viewpoint. I think it would solve a lot of problems & stop arguments.

              • But if anyone can get married at any church that will marry them, why go through the extra step of changing the law to make every marriage license a civil union?

                Besides, it’s not like religious and social conservatives aren’t trying to get rid of civil unions where they exist, and domestic partnerships where they exist, and domestic partnership benefits where they are offered to gay couples.

                It just seems like a lot of people are trying to come up with a way to prevent gay people from getting legally married. I guess I find it ironic that people want to dismantle the institution of marriage in order to save it from the gays.

                Our state and federal laws recognize “marriage”. Most states and our federal government don’t recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships. We never had a problem having people filing marriage licenses in the past when it was just straight people. Christian, Buddhist, Jews, Atheist, Muslims, Wiccans, whatever. It didn’t matter. People applied for marriage licenses and planned their own weddings and people respected each marriage regardless where it was officiated.

                Now gay couples are getting married (actually, we’ve been getting married for many years in at least one state) and people are still looking for a way to protect marriage from the gays. “It’s not a legal institution. Marriage is the property of the Church.” Except, it’s not been treated as such by our government or any other government.

                It’s just sad that people want to eliminate civil marriage in order to protect it from the gays.

              • Jon,

                Are you purposely ignoring what I’ve written or have I not explained it well enough?? Once more, my attitude toward marriage and the state sanctioning of it has NOTHING TO DO WITH GAY PEOPLE WANTING TO BE LEGALLY MARRIED!! Period, end of story. I’m not trying to “save marriage” from anyone. If anything, I’m trying to save people from an institution I believe to be flawed and unsalvageable!!

                I understand that you have a family and are happy and blessed and all that other good stuff and that’s fantastic! I’m happy for you!! I celebrate the fact that you have achieved what most people in this country, gay or straight, cannot. Congratulations!

                Again, though, please stop putting words in my mouth and in other people’s mouths! Just because I believe that the government should not be in the marriage business does not mean I’m trying to deny gay people the ability to legally marry. That’s just silly and anyone who has read what I’ve written with any degree of an open mind understands it is not true!

                For someone who is usually so reasonable and understanding when it comes to people with opposing views you’re being uncharacteristically unfair about this!

              • Sans, my last response wasn’t to you and it was specifically about your comments, but the general atttude that we should all have civil unions — an attitude that was almost never expressed until gay people began seeking the abilty to legally marry.

                Lastly, you acknowledged in your first post in this particular conversation that this topic will cause a big stink. It did, at least with me. Maybe nobody else shares my opinion on the subject. But don’t complain about causing a big stink when you start off a conversation admitting that there will likely be a big stink raised from that conversation.

              • I don’t mind the stink, Jon. What I mind is the intellectual dishonesty you display when you put words in my mouth.

  • Adam

    Don’t forget that NY before legalizing gay marriage recognized same-sex marriages from other states. Many gay people living in NY already got married in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

  • Erp

    First the record was for the number of state recognized marriages in a single day in New York City.

    Second, some couples who would like to get married have one member who is not a legal permanent resident of the US. For opposite sex couples in that situation, getting married would make it relatively easy (at least if the US member was a citizen) to get permanent residence. For same sex couples in that situation getting married would probably mean no chance of a temporary even for visiting visa for the non-US partner on the grounds that the non-US partner likely did not intend to return to his/her home country.

    Third, one member might be in the US military and so they can’t marry until DADT is completely removed as US policy (not too long for that).

    Fourth, some intend to get married in a religious ceremony which is less likely to happen on a Sunday (at least Christian religious ceremonies) and many of those require pre-marital counseling and more than a month’s lead time.

    Fifth, some may be very worried about the legal limbo they will be in with their marriages recognized by New York but not by the Federal government (think income taxes).

  • According to one article:

    “…Initially, New York City officials had projected that about 2,500 couples might show up at the city clerk’s offices hoping to get married on Sunday, but by the time a 48-hour lottery had drawn to a close on Thursday, 823 couples had signed up — 59 more than the city had planned to accommodate. The city said it would perform ceremonies for all of them.

    At the end of the day Sunday, the mayor’s office said 484 couples had gotten married at city offices while another 175 picked up their licenses in order to marry elsewhere.”…

    So, apparently 20% of the couples who registered for the marriage lottery decided against get married that day. We can only speculate. Maybe some couples were caught-up in moment, but got cold feet. Others may have just wanted to have the option of winning the lottery, but eventually decided against marrying in the midst of media and/or protesters.

    If my partner and I could get married, we would want to invite family and friend — some of whom are out of state — so signing-up for a 48-hour lottery wouldn’t make logistic sense.

  • Hyhybt

    I suspect that, aside from all the reasons already given (and especially the lack of any need, in most cases, to marry the *very first day it’s possible*) that, if New York had the same political system as California where this could (and was) reversed within months, and after having seen that happen, a lot more people would be in a hurry. But it’s not just a one-day event, or even a five-monther: it’s every day for the foreseeable future, and that matters.

    (Meanwhile, it’s high time I got started planning my own wedding. Step 1: find potential husband. Step 2: wait until it’s legal to marry him in Georgia, or at least until the state will recognize one from elsewhere…. until then, there’s no point in even beginning to plan beyond that, so far as weddings go.)

  • Steven

    We’re not queuing up in our thousands to marry because most of us have no interest in marriage.

    It was important to address the inequality of the marriage laws and give those who wanted it the right to marry, but now that’s been done (at least in New York), you shouldn’t think that every gay couple will rush out and tie the knot. Most of us are happy the way we are because most of us don’t see the point of marriage. Most of us aren’t Christians. Our lives are not ruled by the idea that a cranky and demanding God needs to be appeased at every turn. So why would we choose to regulate our lives according to Christian principles?

    Most gay couples won’t marry because most gay couples have no desire or need to marry. It’s as simple as that.


  • Clarknt67

    Keep in my you are only talking about the first day. Let’s not presume every couple that would like to marry (and that is not all of them) wants to throw their wedding together in 30 days, and marry at City Hall.

    I have two couple friends who have been together over 10 years. They have homes they’ve bought together, and are very close to one another’s families. They have not expressed to me the desire to “make it legal.” I guess they are running on their own time table, not the state’s.

    (BTW, the “record” that was declared was the most in a single day in NYC.)

  • Andrew: Saw this on the WSJ website today and thought of this blog post: New York city has seen a significant increase in marriage licenses since gays and lesbians gained the ability to marry. Like a 14% increase. You can read more about it here (

    • Thanks for pointing this out Jon! The forthcoming months is as many suggested it would be. Good to have facts in all cases.

      • What’ll be more interesting longer term are the divorce stats. Places like Massachusetts and Iowa have seen lower divorce stats. To be fair, Iowa’s had been decreasing for a while before marriage for gays became legal.

        • Super interesting about Iowa. It will be fascinating to see what happens in the coming years. My guess is that there will be a really low divorce rate for gay marriage, especially at the beginning. But like everything else in this world, things will probably get corrupted and even themselves out on a level plane with everything else. For instance, the divorce rate is the same whether Christian or not… Who knows though, I could be totally, totally wrong?!

  • Kim

    Ive been with my partner for over 30 years, and I see no reason to have “the state” validate me. Most of my hetero friends are divorced, and very few lesbians my age are bothering with this. The tax implications for lesbian couples are severe, and we just aren’t interested in the state at all. Its a civil rights issue, but a mainstream one. i’ve met ex-hetero women who were so horrified by their marriages to men, that they want nothing to do with that institution. Military and marriage seem like conservative assimilaionist issues for mainstream… not the vision of a gay or lesbian world free of that oppression.

    • Kim: Mainstream or not, gay and lesbian couples should have the right to choose to get legally married or not. Just because you find the insitution too mainstream for your family, doesn’t mean that others should be denied the ability to enter into legal marriage. Obviously, not all lesbians find marriage too oppressive since female couples tend to marry each more in higher numbers than gay male couples.

  • John Michael

    Why are “only” 659 couples getting it on the first day? Because those are the only people that want to snatch up the marriage license on day one without a proper ceremony. If I lived in New York, as a gay man, I want my own special day, and I don’t want to rush into marriage. I’m fighting so hard for marriage not because I am with someone I want to marry right now, but because LGBT people need the same hope for love as everyone else. The day it gets legalized would be a day I’d spend celebrating/partying/whatever. It’d be later on down the road that I’d actually get the license and the marriage.

  • Elaine Shaw

    I may be repeating some comments already made, I haven’t read them all yet, so if so, I apologize. I find it not surprising that the number is low. I think it demonstrates the lack of trust that is growing in the GLBT community. Why get a marriage license when it is entirely possible it will get yanked out from under you before or shortly after you get married? Who wants to be in the same situation as those in California trying to figure out how to file their taxes? No thanks! I’d fight for the right, yes, and then wait many years after it’s granted to see if it sticks.

    • Elaine: I agree that many gay people who are married or who want to get married are terrified that our marriages will be involuntarliy nullified by our neighbors.

      On the other hand, as was discussed in this thread there are only so many people who can get married in one day. New York State ended up seeing a 14% increase in new marriage licenses compared in 2011 compared to the previous year. So it’s not that gay and lesbian couples didn’t get married in New York. They just didn’t all get married on the first possible day that they could.

  • Elaine Shaw

    Jon – yes, understood that many chose to marry or at least get a license to do so. I’m happy for them. The original post spoke to the “low” number. I understand the issue of the cap being the major factor. I was simply offering an opinion as to why some people might choose not to be in that first number.

  • JLynne

    Kim, loved your comments above. I’ve met so many ex-het lesbians who had horrifying marriages to men. They want no part of that institution and consider it assimilationist, enslaving, anti-feminist to the core. And traditional marriage as we know it— 50-60% failure rate, we have men raping their wives, beating them, killing them… what is marriage really? What is it really about? And I think we know what it is about, it is very simply the male ownership of women. It is a legal contract so men can have sexual access to women. It’s history is sordid, it is slavery, it is a prison. What would be a radical solution would be to treat individuals as individuals— that means all benefits are for each human being, and couples, families, all of that would not matter. Is the individual completely free? Are women free in marriages to men? And I think we all know the historical answer to that.
    If we held individuality supreme, everyone would be equal under the law, every individual would choose a social security survivor beneficiary, every person would have an estate exclusion free of taxes. And everyone would be told in advance what the social costs would be. If you “reproduce” children, you pay higher taxes because those children cost more. If you “reproduce” a rapist, perhaps your property becomes the property of the girl raped by somebody’s son. Make rape such an economically punishable crime, that men stop doing it— they’d lose all their assets, all their social acceptablity, and they would never be allowed marriage again.
    The marriage contract is a male invented contract, it has nothing to do with the freedom of women, and in fact, it is all about the confiscation of labor of women. If you are a man, and your wife took your last name, well think about it. What is the origin of the enslavement of women, the ownership of our bodies, the poverty of women worldwide? And marriage is the very heart of male supremacy. Why would any lesbian want anything to do with this? A lack of imagination explains everything.

  • ruth

    I thought thsi was a Christian site!? What are you doing promoting LGTG “marriage” santioned by the state or the church? The Bible is quite clear Sexual relationships between same sex men & women is forbidden in both the Old testament and the New. It is sin!

    Stop leading folk astray.

    • Ruth: Not sure which sir you’re referring to here. But my understanding is that TMF is about discussions between people who are Christian and who are not.

      The marriage being discussed here (no quotes) is secular marriage rights and responsibilities. America does not require adherance to a Christian faith in order to apply for a marriage license. Churches (as well as synagoges and mosques and other houses of worship) remain free to decide whether or not to officiate others’ weddings and which marriages to honor. Classic example: the Roman Catholic Church refuses to perform marriage rites for people who are not Catholic or who have been divorced. Meanwhile, a Jewish divorcee is free to apply for a marriage license within her community even though the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize that marriage.

      That said, there are Christian churches and denominations that gladly welcome gay people and our families to God’s table. Your own church might not be at that place and that’s its right, but not all agree that gay relationships are clearly and always forbidden in the Bible.

  • JLynne

    The very heart of male supremacy lies in the actual ownership of women, and the origin of this is patriarchal marriage. I see no clear evidense that women prosper to the degree that they could under this system. It is a male invented system, with the church ceremonies also male owned and controled. It is not an innocent little system Jon, it is an international outrage.

    Under the system historically, men could rape, beat, and enslave their “wives”– under this system the individual is subsumed under it. The most radical thing would be to have all individuals be equal under the law, with no social security etc. benefits being dependent upon marriage at all, for example.

    It is a system so out of touch with reality, that it has a 50-60% failure rate in the U.S., and the greatest numbers of heterosexuals getting divorced… the people who actually instigate the divorce are women in their 50s. Now we have to ask ourselves, why is this? And what is it about this hetero – patirachal institution that is so toxic now? Will marriage create two classes of lesbians and gays— ? Will lesbians lose financially in this mess of a system? I’m already seeing the divorces Jon, and it’s very economically damanging for the lesbians in them. And I’ve seen the less damaging aspects of lesbians who have split up with their partners without any state involvement at all. Imagine that, a life with no state sanction or interference at all.
    In the rush to the conservative gay politics… the rush to get into the military, the rush to the altar, I would seriously take a look at what marriage is, what the theft of women’s bodies and labor is under this system, and that’s where I part seriously with that institution. All these so called “rights” have a way a backfiring. They blow up in hetero women’s faces all the time, and I think there is something inherently wrong with this system, just as there is something inherently wrong about a government in which women have a pathetic 17% of the seats in congress. We need to take a harsh look at the entire system, and I don’t believe all the propaganda out there Jon, and I’m not drinking the hetero immitative cool aid. We are not hearing all the lesbian objections to this, and those radical voices are actively silenced all the time. And when I don’t see the opposite arguments put out there front and center, I believe this will not work well for lesbians.

    • I’ve seen divorces too. At least with divorce, there is some process for assisting couples with breaking up and dividing up the joint property and for assisting with division of child raising and support. That’s painful, but truthfully it should be a painful process to terminate the relationship IMHO.

      There are peopel without the benefit of a marriage license who break up painlessly. But I’ve seen some bitter, nasty break up with people (gay straight/gay male or lesbian) who’ve been just as nasty without the benefit of an actual divorce and people are just as likely (if not more likely since there’s no oversight) to be victimized by a vindicative former partner.

      I agree that people need to head into marriage with their eyes wide open. If you don’t want to marry or you don’t want to risk the possibility of divorce, then don’t marry. But people should be allowed the choice.