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But didn't Bhagwan Dan's 5-minute marriage skew & screw the data? Please discuss.

Posted by Mrs. Savage | October 17, 2006 8:42 AM

I'm not getting married even after gays and lesbians are allowed to marry. Gotta have some standards.


Posted by bill | October 17, 2006 8:46 AM

If your parents are on your back about living with someone while not being married to him/her, I kind of doubt they'd get off if you told them it was to protest the fact that gays and lesbians can't marry. At least, my mother wouldn't.

Posted by Megan | October 17, 2006 8:46 AM

For a lot of reasons, marriage seems old fashioned and out of sync with urban living and values, especially for couples who don't intend to have kids. That right-wingers have staked a claim on the definition of marriage and denied rights to gays/lesbians makes the whole institution even more of a relic.

Posted by Sean | October 17, 2006 8:51 AM

Defense of Marriage Act that is preventing Stubbs' husband from getting benefits was passed in 1996. We can thank Clinton for that one.

Posted by Papayas | October 17, 2006 9:04 AM

Can't it be a lightly held conviction and a convenient excuse?

We're not marrying because we don't want to and have no romanticized respect for the "institution" (which used to be some place people were locked into).

Posted by B.D. | October 17, 2006 9:06 AM

I wouldn't say excuse, per se, but the answer isn’t a black&white. A reason to one person is another person’s excuse. But if both people agree, it is as valid as any... not until homosexuals can legally marry, or waiting until the career takes off, or seeing how things work out with each other for a time period, or only if there are kids involved, or waiting until the Vatican/temple/tabernacle opens up, etc; reasons which are valid to the people in the relationship. Anyone who wants to say otherwise should butt out.

However, as the first anniversary moves to the fifth, to the tenth, and so on towards death, I think if it is not human nature, then it is still in the American's culture to look to a solid commitment, something both people can hold onto as making the relationship lasting, and more tangible then just a standard LTR. Something more then just "I Love You"; it could be wedding, buying a house, buying a car, getting a dog, getting a kid, something, any one thing, that can be pointed at and declared to be a substantial commitment. Sure, by real I mean to gesture to the family, to friends, to the world at-large to say “hands-off, eyes forward, WE, I & HIM/HER, ARE TOGETHER FOR THE LONG HAUL”.

Posted by Phenics | October 17, 2006 9:33 AM

Don't worry, conservatives have an answer to the pension inequity problem you describe: Eliminate pensions for everybody! Your retirement will be funded by "private savings." That way, gay and straight people who get too old to work will all be equally screwed. Yay, equality!

Posted by flamingbanjo | October 17, 2006 9:42 AM

My partner works for Amtrak and has a defined benefit pension waiting for him when he retires. I, on the other hand, have a shitty 401k that I hate, because I hate having to pay attention to shit like that. Investments are boring. People who talk about investments are even more boring. Sorry to say it, I'm sure many will say I have a character flaw and that I should "pull myself up by my bootstraps" or some crap like that, but that's just the kind of guy I am.

My mom is living very nicely on my deceased Dad's pension and Social Security. In fact, she probably makes more money than the average family in the town she lives in. Which is great for her, and I applaud it.

When I think about the whole pension thing, it makes me really mad, so I try not to think about it, deciding to focus instead on my old age eating cat food if I outlive my partner.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | October 17, 2006 9:57 AM

While protesting persecution of G&Ls, I think the reason for this is much simpler: women have rights. They no longer need to marry to move up in life.

Posted by Gomez | October 17, 2006 9:57 AM

er... while protesting the persecution of G&Ls is noble.. is what I meant to say.

Posted by Gomez | October 17, 2006 10:00 AM

Just to pick a nit, Dan, "No longer the majority" is not the same as "A minority". Married couples still hold a plurality of households.

Posted by BC | October 17, 2006 10:08 AM

Catalina Vel-Duray,

The recently enacted Pension Protection Act of 2006 may allow your partner to name you as a beneficiary of his pension savings.

Alternatively, it may be possible to roll your partner's defined pension benefit plan savings into an IRA when he separates from service. If that is an option, he could name you as the IRA beneficiary and the problem could be mitigated.

He can find out if these options are available to him by contacting his HR department.

Posted by Andrew | October 17, 2006 10:11 AM

Catalina, dear: cat food is more expensive than cheap canned meats like store brand tuna. You won't be shopping in the pet food aisle; you'll be living it up at Big Lots.

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2006 10:40 AM

"Or easy out, a convenient way for some straight folks to permanently get their parents off their backs?"

Hmm...somehow I don't see this argument convincing Ma and Pop out in Toppenish that the shackin' is okay.

Like somebody said upthread, I can see where it's more likely a bit of conviction and a bit of convenience. As you pointed out, even those couples can and do marry if they so desire.

Posted by laterite | October 17, 2006 10:42 AM

Well, lots of progressive parents want their kids to marry. Saying "not until the homos can!" might not work on fundy 'rents out in the sticks, but it will shut up your tree-hugging parents in Wallingford pretty quick.

Posted by Dan Savage | October 17, 2006 10:49 AM

I don't think it's so much an excuse as another feature that makes marriage less attractive. Also, with the stunning rate of divorce, it's kind of like, why bother? If you've got a 50/50 chance of divorce, you might as well save yourself the legal hassle. Honestly, gay marriage may be the only thing that will bring straight people back into it. After all, we're supposed to be the trend setters.

Posted by Gitai | October 17, 2006 10:50 AM

Another thing that may skew the numbers:
I live in Massachusetts.
I am gay.
I am legally married.

So whenever I fill out those pesky surveys, I check the box that says "Married", not a "cohabiting" or "Shacked up" or "Domestic Partnership". And I know others do was well, even if they aren't legally married. So, some (small) percent of that 49.7% of married people is married gay folk.

Bottom line: it's not gay marriage; it's just marriage.

Posted by BostonBear | October 17, 2006 11:04 AM

Whoo-Hoo! Maybe I can have Tuna Helper Sundays in my one room apartment with the kitchen along one wall.

(Actually, I'd be quite happy with that, as long as the room was large and I had a balcony. A real balcony, none of this "Juliet" bullshit. Senior Citizen housing planners, please take note.)

Thanks for the tip, Andrew.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | October 17, 2006 11:07 AM

I see marriage as a symbol, similar to the American flag. It may have been a powerful and inclusive force at one time, but it has been so twisted and stripped of meaning by fools and demagogues that it has become less than meaningless. Just as I can be a good citizen and exemplary neighbor without ever flying the stars and stripes, I can be a good partner and exemplary boyfriend/girlfriend without ever signing the marriage papers.

Posted by Gurldoggie | October 17, 2006 11:09 AM


At last, something we agree on across the great divide of sports fan/sports-nonfan.


Posted by bill | October 17, 2006 12:17 PM

I don't plan on getting married, and that's part of the reason, but not directly. Mostly, I'm put off by all the sanctimonious baggage that goes along with the word "marriage". The legal recognition of a long-term relationship would be worthwhile, but although I don't know the details except that there would be severe disadvantages, I'd rather get a civil union and create all the powers of attorney, etc., and have it explicitly be just a legal arrangement and not part of the outdated religious tradition of marriage.

And Catalina, one way I've found to make investment seem less boring is to think about what it's actually accomplishing in the grander scheme of things. Investing money somewhere is exerting some control over how the world's productive effort is spent. At the level of personal investing, it's only a tiny bit of control compared to say, what a venture capitalist can do, but still, doing it responsibly can be considered a civic duty analogous to voting. Along those lines, I put my 401k in a fund that tracks the Calvert Social Index, which is an aggregation of the value of companies like the Dow, etc., but it excludes companies that have to do with weapons, tobacco, gambling, unfair labor practices, bad environmental records, and some other no-no's. So, I knew that the little bit of money I'm putting into the capitalist machine is used in a way that reflects how I think about the world.

Posted by Noink | October 17, 2006 1:18 PM

read your own damn paper!

love, annie

Posted by annie | October 17, 2006 3:35 PM

That was a great piece, Annie : )

LOL at this section: "my free time was spent exposing hypocrisies."

That is awesome.

Your brain must be melting given the state of US society today -mine sure is.

Posted by Andrew | October 17, 2006 4:28 PM

I kind of wish we had more modern approach to relationships, like in Scandinavian countries, where marriage is seen as the outmoding institution it is.

Posted by cite | October 17, 2006 8:54 PM

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