Charles C. CookeNational Review
Announcing the results of his long-term â€œevolutionâ€ on the subject last week, President Obama revived the debate over gay marriage. In the widespread discussion, however, there is one question thatâ€™s rarely asked: How interested are gay couples in getting married?
Heretofore at least, the answer seems to be â€œnot really.â€ Since 1997, when Hawaii became the first state in the union to allow reciprocal-beneficiary registration for same-sex couples, 19 states and the District of Columbia have granted some form of legal recognition to the relationships of same-sex couples. These variants include marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, and reciprocal-beneficiary relationships; and the most recent U.S. Census data reveal that, in the last 15 years, only 150,000 same-sex couples have elected to take advantage of them â€” equivalent to around one in five of the self-identified same-sex couples in the United States. This number does not appear to be low because of the fact that only a few states have allowed full â€œmarriageâ€; indeed, in the first four years when gay marriage was an option in trailblazing Massachusetts, there were an average of only about 3,000 per year, and that number included many who came from out of state.
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