Fridays USA Today included an article noting that despite moves toward legalizing civil unions in states like New Hampshire and Oregon, fewer gay couples are choosing to enter civil unions or register as domestic partners (Andrea Stone, Some say civil unions dropping off, April 20). For example, in Connecticut, the number of same-sex couples who entered into civil unions in the first 15 months that they were legal was only 18% of the number of same-sex unmarried partner households counted in the 2000 census. (By contrast, 92% of opposite-sex couples who live together in Connecticut are legally married.)

The article quotes one homosexual activist as suggesting that same-sex couples are waiting for marriage. But it certainly undermines the argument that same-sex couples are being seriously harmed by lack of access to the legal and financial benefits of marriage, if 82% dont even bother to access those benefits once they are granted them under state law.

The article says that in Massachusetts, where they do have same-sex civil marriage, about 9,000 such marriages have occurred since 2004. However, it fails to note that this is barely more than half the number of cohabiting same-sex couples identified in the census (again, in contrast to heterosexuals, among whom the married outnumber the cohabiting by a ratio of more than 10 to 1). These figures constitute empirical evidence that a majority of homosexuals do not need the benefits of marriage, and relatively few even want to participate in the institution of marriage.

What they really want is the official government affirmation that homosexuality is identical to heterosexualityperiod. But by winning marriage and then not participating in it, they advance the deinstitutionalization of marriagethat is, they destroy any social norm suggesting that marriage is the preferred context for living together in a sexual relationship (even more than heterosexuals have). This is one of the ways that same-sex marriage harms the institution of marriageyes, even for heterosexuals.

See also FRC InFocus: How many benefit from same-sex marriage in Massachusetts?