Reading my letter to the editor (full text included below) of the San Francisco Chronicle correcting an misrepresentation of my research on monogamy and gay groups which appeared in an Op-ed that paper published last Thursday reminded me yet again how few gay advocates of gay marriage understand the institution they’re advocating.
They not only repeatedly misrepresent the meaning of marriage, but they also fail to represent the expectations of nearly all lesbians pursuing marriage — and those of a great majority of gay men. They really don’t get the social meaning of the institution. They just see marriage as just another in the panoply of “rights” they believe the government should provide.
To be sure, this has been a theme of many of my posts on marriage, particularly this one. Yes, I understand their goal is getting state recognition. But, if they really want that recognition, shouldn’t they make clear what it is they want recognized?
Indeed, their reluctance to discuss the meaning of marriage makes it more difficult for them to convince skeptical citizens of the social benefits of extending the government protections of this ancient institution to same-sex couples.
At the same time, they offer treacly definitions of marriage and refuse to promote monogamy (as a defining aspect of marriage as it has been for at least the last twenty-five centuries), many gay people, who seek the benefits of state-recognized marriage, do recognize its obligations. When he studied a group of gay and lesbian couples for his book, Together Forever: Gay and Lesbian Marriage, Eric Marcus found the overwhelming majority elected monogamy.
As I wrote, in reviewing his book:
He was struck at the “seemingly one-sided numbers,” that most of the couples had chosen monogamous relationships. All twenty female couples were in monogamous relationships and only three (out of twenty) of the male couples were nonmonogamous. (Three of the other male couples had, at one point, been nonmonogamous.)
In an e-mail exchange following about my monogamy post, a reader (in a monogamous same-sex relationship himself) wrote of an “advanced search” he and his partner did on meetgaycouples.com. He found that 55% of nearly 1,600 couples identified as monogamous. (The number may actually be higher as over 10% declined to state.) And as this site may attract gay couples looking to play, the real world percentage of monogamous gay couples could be higher still.
And we haven’t even discussed lesbians who account for over 60% of same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses in one California county.
Why is it, I wonder, when it appears a majority of same-sex couples choose monogamy that our gay leaders are so unwilling to even discuss the issue? Is it that they don’t seem the benefits of sexual exclusivity? Or that they want to rip marriage away from all of its religious moorings?
The leading advocates of gay marriage may seek to do that, but it does seem that a great majority of gay people only want to change the gender-difference aspect of marriage, but otherwise want keep the institution as it is–and has long been defined.Â They understand the meaning of marriage.
While gay people understand its meaning, those who claim to represent us in public seem more afraid of offending the sexual liberationists who once dominated the gay movement than in convincing mainstream Americans who will, in the end, decide this issue.
My Letter appears below the jump:
Editor – David Benkof’s “Monogamous same-sex adultery” (June 26), included a misrepresentation of my research on gay groups and monogamy.
The pre-publication version I had seen accurately summarized my research where David had observed that I had “searched ‘marriage equality’ Web sites and found very few positive mentions of monogamy.”
As I stated on my blog in describing the nature of my project, I did word searches at the Web sites of several groups (the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Freedom to Marry, Equality California (EQ CA) and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center) and one individual (Andrew Sullivan), all of whom support “marriage equality.”
My project consisted of plugging the following two-word combinations (without quotation marks), “marriage monogamy,” “marriage monogamous,” “marriage fidelity” and “marriage adultery,” into each site’s search engine and reviewing the pages that came up. I did not do a global search for “marriage equality” as Benkof’s editorial, as published, suggests.
B. DANIEL BLATT