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Trevor Blake: Three Predictions Part Two, Same Sex Marriage

Some groups and individuals oppose legal access to same sex marriage.  This includes homosexual groups and individuals, some from the left, some from the right.  I predict they will be displeased if legal access to same sex marriage occurs in the United States.  There is no right to happiness.

According to the General Accounting Office [pdf], “as of 31 December 2003 [there are] a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges.”  Due to the Defense of Marriage Act, these federal statutory provisions are available only to hetero married couples.  If legal access to same-sex marriage occurs in the United States, some or all of these federal statutory provisions will have to change.  I predict they will not change at the same time. I predict that they will not change to the same degree or in the same way.  I predict that sometimes a federal statutory provisions will cease to exist rather than be extended to same-sex couples.  I predict that they will not all change at the federal level, but rather at both the state and the federal level and that they will not be uniform in all states.  During the time these federal statutory provisions change, some same-sex couples will lose out while other same-sex couples will benefit.  Attentiveness now to these benefits, rights, and privileges might make their transitions more smooth.

Interracial hetero marriage was banned in some states as late as 1967.  The Loving v Virginia decision of the Supreme Court that year found miscegenation laws to be unconstitutional. Interracial marriage has been legal for over forty years. But it is not the case that interracial marriages occur with the same frequency as same-race marriages. According to the US Census for 2000, around 97% of whites married whites and around 96% of blacks married blacks. I predict these statistics will remain constant if legal access to same sex marriage occurs in the United States.  The State has no role in encouraging or discouraging marriage diversity.

Citizenship in the United States can be conferred by marriage.  I predict that legal access to same sex marriage will confer citizenship to some men and women who otherwise could not be citizens.  I predict this will be a small number and will not influence society much at all.  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Domestic violence occurs among same-sex couples as well as hetero couples.  According to the American Bar Association [pdf], “seven states define domestic violence in a way that specifically excludes same-sex victims.” I predict that legal access to same sex marriage will include an increase of reports of domestic violence.  This increase in reports of domestic violence may be caused by a change in the ability to report domestic violence as much as or more than an increase in actual domestic violence. Domestic violence among same-sex couples does not occur with the same frequency among all sexes.  According to the U. S. Department of Justice, 11.4% of same-sex cohabiting women report being victimized by a female partner while 15.4% of same-sex cohabiting men reported being victimized by a male partner. Men raping men occurs much more frequently than men raping women.  According to the U. S. Census Bureau, 78.3% of murder victims are male and 21.4% of murder victims are female.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics [pdf] 65.3% of murders involved a male offender and a male victim while 2.4% of murders involved a female offender and a female victim.  I predict that legal access to same sex marriage will show more domestic violence among men than among women.  Acknowledging a difference between men and women and funding State services accordingly might lessen the problem of domestic violence.

Same sex couples cannot conceive children.  Same sex couples who wish to raise children are limited in their ability to adopt in the United States.  Some states allow it, some forbid it, and federal law has said only that an adoption in one state must be recognized in other states.  (Compare this with the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law stating same-sex marriage in one state need not be recognized in other states.)  Many states that forbid adoption by same sex couples base their law on same sex couples being unable to legally marry.  I predict legal access to same sex marriage in the United States will cause changes in adoption laws.  I predict some states will make it no more or less difficult for same sex couples to adopt than for hetero couples to adopt, while other states will make all adoptions more difficult to make adoption more difficult for same sex couples.  Same sex couples who wish to raise children are limited in their ability to use birth surrogates or artificial insemination in the United States.  Legal limits on birth surrogates exist for hetero couples as well and vary by state.  There is no legal limit on artificial insemination but some insurance companies will not compensate single women who use artificial insemination.  I predict some states will make it no more or less difficult for same sex couples to use birth surrogates or artificial insemination, while other states will make using birth surrogates or getting artificial insemination more difficult to make these procedures more difficult for same sex couples.  I predict the number of children adopted will increase if legal access to same sex marriage occurs.  State by state differences in adoption, birth surrogates, and artificial insemination will be similar to the legality of abortion.  Abortion is legal at the national level but access to services varies by state and is not a service the state is compelled to offer.  Adoption laws should be inclusive of same sex parents.

Advocates of legal access to same sex marriage want treatment under the law identical to hetero marriage, and that includes legal access to divorce.  Making predictions about legal access to same sex marriage must include predictions about legal access to same sex divorce.  Statistics relating to hetero divorce have a limited value in making predictions about same sex divorce. According to the National Center for Health Statistics [pdf] “Approximately 61 percent of the divorces in 1988 were petitioned by the wife, 32 percent by the husband, and 7 percent by the husband and wife jointly.” More hetero couples are divorced today than in the past, and differences exist between the percentage of divorced men and divorced women.  According to the US Census Bureau: “Of the first marriages for women from 1955 to 1959, about 79 percent marked their 15th anniversary, compared with only 57 percent for women who married for the first time from 1985 to 1989. People born in the leading edge of the baby boom experienced high divorce rates in the 1970s and 1980s. About 38 percent of men born from 1945 to 1954 and 41 percent of women in the same age group had been divorced by 2004.”  The trend for women to initiate divorce more than men is also found in Denmark, where legal access to same sex marriage has been available since 1989. Male same sex married couples in Denmark seek a divorce 14% of the time, while female same sex married couples in Denmark seek a divorce 23% of the time. I predict legal access to same sex marriage in the United States will reveal that women seek divorce more than men in both hetero and same sex marriages.  According to the US Census Bureau [pdf], among hetero divorced couples in 2008 56.9% of mothers were awarded child support and custody while 40.4% of fathers were awarded child support and custody.  I predict custody and child support issues among divorcing same sex couples will incur less legal fees and occupy less court time among men than women.  I claim that some discontent to legal access to same sex marriage is caused by discontent with hetero marriage.  Discontent with hetero marriage comes in part from the prevalence of divorce.  No-fault divorce has existed in every state since 1985.  Discontent with hetero marriage comes in part from the disparity of who initiates divorce and who benefits from divorce.  Women initiate divorce more often than men, and benefit from divorce more often than men.  Divorce and women’s rights are largely spoken of as having only benefits, never any cost.  Divorce and women’s rights are largely spoken of as bringing about only equality, never inequality.  For these reasons, what might have been a debate about women and divorce has become a debate about homosexuals and marriage.  I predict legal access to same sex marriage will not bring about the former debate.  Acknowledging a difference between men and women and funding State services accordingly might lessen the problem of divorce.

See also: Three Predictions Part One, ‘Who’s That Girl?’