Ironically, this weekend thousands of couples chose to tie the knot by entering into civil marriage, but of course, here in North Carolina, none of them were gay.
Many gay couples did indeed celebrate their love, but they weren't able to take part in any of the more than 1,000 rights given by civil marriage.
Still, the marriage equality movement is advancing. A couple of decades ago, it was unthinkable that gay couples would get married, and now we have five states (with D.C. pending) that treat LGBT couples like all other citizens.
Here are three things to note with regard to couple equality:
The conversation around marriage equality is first and foremost about real families, real couples, and real children, who need and deserve the security, clarity, and respect that comes with marriage.
In honor of black history month, the Freedom To Marry Coalition has produced a high-profile list of 10 African-Americans Who Support the Freedom to Marry. You'll recognize the names, and you'll be impressed.
Statistics and facts for same-sex marriage can be hard to find. Marriage equality is in the news a lot, but a lot of people just want unbiased information before deciding how they feel about it.
Here's what you need to know:
- 41% support marriage equality for gay couples
- 49% oppose it
- 10% say it depends/are unsure
- Public support for marriage equality has increased about 1% annually over the last two decades.
- Statisticians predict a majority of Americans will support marriage equality by 2012.
Places Where Gay Couples Can Legally Get Married:
- Massachusetts (2004)
- Connecticut (2008)
- Iowa (2009)
- Vermont (2009)
- New Hampshire (2010)
- Washington, D.C. (Coming in March 2010)
Places Where Gay Couples Married In Other Places Are Recognized:
- New York
- California (but only if you got married before Proposition 8 passed)
The most recent census did not count marriages gay couples directly, so the following are estimates based on how people reported their household. It counts households with 2 members of the same sex that are unrelated.
- Total Number of Gay Couples: 594,391
- Number of People in a Couple: 1.2 Million
- State With the Most Couples: California (92,138)
- State With the Least Couples: North Dakota (703)
- Highest Concentration of Gay Couple (% of all couples): Washington, D.C. (1.29%)
- Lowest Concentration of Gay Couples (% of all couples): North and South Dakota (.22%)
Highest Number of Same-Sex Couples:
- New York, NY: 47,000
- Los Angeles, CA: 12,000
- Chicago, IL: 10,000
Highest Concentration of Gay People:
- San Francisco, CA: 15.4%
- Seattle, WA: 12.9%
- Atlanta, GA: 12.8%
Lowest Concentration of Gay People:
- Detroit, MI: 1.5%
- Richmond, VA: 3.4%
- Cleveland, OH and Memphis, TN: 3.5%
State by State Map of Gay Marriage Laws. The Wall Street Journal compiled information from the Human Rights Campaign, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and other sources, to compile a user-friendly interactive map.
Text of State Constitutional Amendments Targeting Same-Sex Marriage. If you're one of those people who wants to read the laws themselves to see how exactly gay marriage is outlawed, check out this collection put together by Lambda Legal.
Year 2000 Census Information on Same Sex Households. Expect these numbers to increase in 2010 more than other types of families. The 2010 census will be the first to let gay couples report as married.
This video highlights the plight of binational same-sex couples who cannot get married. In a straight couple, the US partner can sponsor the other for residency. LGBT couples do not have that option, which means the non-US partner can be targeted for discrimination and kicked out of the country.
There are 36,000 lesbian and gay binational families in the United States, and half of those are also raising young children.
According to Rachel B. Tiven, Immigration Equality's executive director, "For every day that passes without action from Congress, another family faces separation and another child is put in jeopardy of losing a parent."
The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name, i.e., LGBT love, has come a long way, but there's still some distance to travel. Eventually it'll be The Love Where LGBT Couples Get The Same Rights As Straight Couples, then the Love Whose Children's Get The Same Legal Protections.
Finally, ultimately, it'll all just be Love. And that's what Valentine's Day - and Freedom To Marry Week - is all about.