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Marriage is being saved by gays -- in the District

During my speech at the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) brunch on Sunday, I blew rhetorical kisses at City Councilmember David A. Catania (I-At Large) for his strategic leadership in bringing marriage equality to the District. Afterwards, Catania thanked me for the shout-out. But then he told me something startling. More same-sex couples are getting married here than heterosexual couples. That's good news for an institution straight folks don't seem too keen on joining in lately.

"That's a story," I gasped. We journalists are prone to saying that when warranted. It's not quite "Stop the presses!" but it's pretty close. Anyway, I asked Catania for the data, since he is collecting it from the Superior Court for a report he'll release on March 3, 2011, the one-year anniversary of the law going into effect. Two things to keep in mind when looking at the bullet points he sent me. First, we're only six months into this. Second, these are back-of-the-envelope comparisons with last year. Catania points out:

  • In 2009, there were 3,096 licenses issued for the entire year (averages out to 258/month)
  • From January 1, 2010 to March 2, 2010 (the last day before marriage equality went into effect): 376 licenses issued.
  • From March 3, 2010 to Sept. 29, 2010: 4,789 licenses issued.*
  • Using the 2009 average of 258 licenses a month, then by this point in 2009 there were approx. 2,322 marriage licenses issued.
  • As of Sept. 29, 2010, there have been 5,125 licenses issued during 2010, an increase of over 2,800 licenses compared with this time last year

That's a difference of 150 percent. Or put another way, for every straight couple getting married in the District, there are potentially two gay couples tying the knot, jumping the broom, pick your metaphor. "While we can’t technically attribute all of the 2,800 additional licenses to marriage equality," Catania cautions, "it is a fair assumption that the vast majority were issued to same-sex couples." He also noted that the city doesn't "keep track of the gender of applicants, so there is no way to tally which licenses were issued to same-sex versus opposite-sex couples." Another thing that isn't known is exactly how many of the people saying "I do" in the District actually live here. "Couples applying for marriage licenses come from around the country, but mostly the DC-Maryland-Virginia area," Leah Gurowitz of the Superior Court told me. "We do not keep a list of the number of couples from each jurisdiction."

Each couple hands over $45 for the marriage application and license. So, the city has pulled in more than $126,000 in extra cash. While the overall economic impact isn't known just yet, the Williams Institute at the UCLA Law School estimated in an April 2009 report that same-sex marriage "will boost the District of Columbia's economy by over $52.2 million over three years, which would generate increases in local government tax and fee revenues by $5.4 million and create approximately 700 new jobs."

A couple of days ago, there was a story about how in 2009, for the first time in a century, the number of young adults who have never married outnumbered those who were married. The sour economy and more people deciding to shack up than wed are among the reasons for the decline. But given the stats we have so far, those concerns don't seem to be an issue here in the District.

The reason for the asterisk (*) after the third bullet point kind of illustrates the point. When Catania sent his e-mail yesterday afternoon, the number of licenses issued at that point was 4,779. I sent Gurowitz an e-mail later to confirm another data point. In her response she wanted to make sure I had the latest number: 4,789.

Wondering if Catania made a typo, I wrote back to Gurowitz, "Just double checking, you wrote 4789 applications. Catania wrote 4779. I'm assuming you're the correct one." She replied, "Apparently ten couples came in today! (but I appreciate your assumption, nonetheless)."

Again, we don't know how many of them were same-sex couples, if any. But given the crumbling foundation upon which marriage sits, anyone willing to shore it up by exchanging vows -- gay or straight -- should be welcomed.

By Jonathan Capehart  | September 30, 2010; 8:21 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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It is not factually correct that the gender of marriage applicantts is unknown. It is a question on the marriage application:

"Catania] also noted that the city doesn't 'keep track of the gender of applicants, so there is no way to tally which licenses were issued to same-sex versus opposite-sex couples.'"

Whatever problem that CM Catania has with getting that information from the Court; the Court is collecting it.

Posted by: bob74 | September 30, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"Marriage is being saved by gays" And, democracy was saved by Chavez in Venezuela.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | September 30, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

This was taken from another poster that shows why we need to legalize gay marriage. If you don't feel for this person after reading it, you simply aren't human.

"I am not sure what our President thinks of this dicission but coming from a poor family and knowing what discrimination is all about I would assume he would not care if "Gays" have equal rights. The whole reason why they are asking for rights to be considered married is from the same reason why I would be for it. My own life partner commited suicide in our home with a gun to his heart. After a 28 year union I was deprived to even go his funeral. We had two plots next to each other. But because we did not have a marriage cirtificate "(Legal Document)" of our union his mother had him cremated and his ashes taken back to Missouri where we came from. That is only one example how painful it is. His suicide tramatized me so much and her disregard for my feelings only added to my heartach. That happened on March 21 of 2007 and I still cannot type this without crying for the trauma I have to endure each day. Oh did I mention I am in an electric wheelchair for life? Yes I am and it is very diffacult to find another mate when you are 58 and in a wheelchair. "

Posted by: shadow_man | September 30, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Homosexuality is not a sin according to the Bible. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, prostitution, and rape, not homosexuality.

(Change *** to www)

Posted by: shadow_man | September 30, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Homosexuality is not a choice. Just like you don't choose the color of your skin, you cannot choose whom you are sexually attracted to. If you can, sorry, but you are not heterosexual, you are bi-sexual. Virtually all major psychological and medical experts agree that sexual orientation is NOT a choice. Most gay people will tell you its not a choice. Common sense will tell you its not a choice. While science is relatively new to studying homosexuality, studies tend to indicate that its biological.

(Change *** to www)
Gay, Straight Men's Brain Responses Differ

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that homosexuality is not a choice. Sexual orientation is generally a biological trait that is determined pre-natally, although there is no one certain thing that explains all of the cases. "Nurture" may have some effect, but for the most part it is biological.

And it should also be noted that:
"It is worth noting that many medical and scientific organizations do believe it is impossible to change a person's sexual orientation and this is displayed in a statement by American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, and National Education Association."

Posted by: shadow_man | September 30, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

The National Library of Medicine pubs confirm that sexual orientation is natural, biologically induced in the first trimester of pregnancy, morally neutral, immutable, neither contagious nor learned, bearing no relation to an individuals ability to form deep and lasting relationships, to parent children, to work or to contribute to society.

From the American Psychological Association: homosexuality is normal; homosexual relationships are normal.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Asociation and American Psychiatric Asociation have endorsed civil marriage for same-sex couples because marriage strengthens mental and physical health and longevity of couples, and provides greater legal and financial security for children, parents and seniors.

America's premier child/mental health associations endorse marriage equality.

Posted by: shadow_man | September 30, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: michal9632 | October 6, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

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