People of good will express visceral hatred for stereotypes. Lazy blacks, Italian mafiosos, drunk Irish. Which brings me to same-sex marriage. A bigot would say that guys aren't gonna get hitched, because they're too promiscuous to settle down. And many assume that gals will get married en masse, because we're hopelessly acculturated to dream about marriage our whole lives. In short, more into starry-eyed commitment than hot anonymous sex.
The numbers show that some part of this may be true.
"Initial statistics on same-sex marriage in two Canadian provinces show that more female than male couples have gotten married -- even though gay men outnumber lesbians," noted syndicated gay media reporter Rex Wockner
in a recent story. "Lesbian couples account for 63 percent of same-sex marriages in Saskatchewan and 57 percent in British Columbia -- despite the fact that Statistics Canada says only 46 percent of Canadian homosexuals are women."
There have also been two reported same-sex divorces in Canada -- one in B.C., one in Ontario. Interestingly, both were lesbian split-ups.
I did a quick straw poll of notables across Canada, asking why our weddings and divorces are so numerically lopsided. I received a fascinating mix of answers -- many thanks to those who replied.
"Dunno why lesbians are getting hitched and divorcing more than gay men," says Newfoundland's Gemma Hickey,
president of the board of the national lobby group Egale Canada.
"Perhaps the joke is true," she laughs: "What does a lesbian bring on the second date? A U-Haul. That may be a clue as to why they marry. As to why they divorce, well women do PMS at the same time when they live together."
More seriously, University of Windsor academic Barry Adam
says it's way too soon to analyze divorce numbers. "Previous studies of G & L relationships show that the length of relationships is similar for male and female couples. It is possible, though, if men are marrying less, that they are divorcing less as well."
As for why there are more woman-to-woman marriages, Adam wonders if it's about the kids. "We do know that lesbians are more likely to have children but I haven't seen stats yet that it is in fact women with children who are marrying more."
FOR THE CHILDREN
Mona Greenbaum, who runs Quebec's Lesbian Mothers Association,
says one in five lesbians is a mom.
"Some may not be parents yet but are planning to have kids in the future. There is the feeling out there that only marriage will guarantee full parental rights... in fact we are no different from heterosexuals, at least in Quebec, in that we can have these parental rights without necessarily tying the knot. Still even when I tell people this they still feel safer getting married." Including Greenbaum: "If it wasn't for the kids, after 16 years of being together, we would never have done it."
She adds that marriage has resonance for young'uns. The children of lesbians confront homophobia regularly, and legal marriage (which helps with societal acceptance) is a concept that all kids understand -- her own, as well as the bullies at school. (I could not find stats that indicate whether lesbian marriages overwhelmingly involve the parents of children, however. A future project for an enterprising social scientist?)
Calgary activist Stephen Lock
is another long-time uppity character. "Basically, and at the risk of perpetuating stereotypes, lesbians have tended to 'nest' far more than your average gay man. Even before equal marriage appeared on the horizon, the standard at least *appeared* to be that lesbians were far more likely to couple, even if serially, than gay men did.
"I don't know if it is a factor of gender differences or socialization or a combination of both, but gay men -- generally -- are able to distinguish between sex and love. Gay men rarely have had an issue with following their sexual desires and instincts. We tend to distinguish between 'fucking' and 'making love'; in fact, I think men in general make that distinction. Even your average straight guy knows when it's just about getting laid, regardless of what he might say -- in an attempt to get laid and get his nut a guy will say whatever it takes to have that happen....
"When gay men become involved in a relationship -- and here I am referring to long term, committed, loving relationships... partners, not just boyfriends/dating... I think (again, generally speaking) they continue to recognize the difference between SEX and LOVE.
"It is not at all unusual for two men in a relationship to allow for outside sexual activity, although there are often conditions or codicils attached to such activity....
MORE EMOTIONAL INVOLVEMENT?
Lock continues: "It appears to me that women, and by extension lesbians, invest emotionally far more -- or perhaps 'differently' would be a better way of putting it -- than men. SEX and LOVE are all tied up together and the female psyche has a difficult time separating the two. Again, whether this is societal or inherent, I don't know.
"Lesbians (generally generally generally) either remain together once the sexual interest wears off, as it inevitably does, because the emotional/social/economic/other needs are being met and live with the infamous Lesbian Bed Death syndrome, or they split up and quickly find someone else.
"Gay men channel the decrease in sexual interest differently... depending on the nature of the relationship, once the sex energy fades they split up or, if they've been in a relationship that could be characterized as something more than just dating, they adjust their sexual needs to accommodate.
"This could mean introducing threesomes into the relationship, allowing for sexual activity outside of the relationship, trying 'something different' to re-energize the sexualness....
"Now, as far as the marriage thing goes --- if gay men, generally, are less likely to automatically ascribe a need to form a traditional pairing to their respective relationships, recognize sex and love as being separate, albeit connected, then it follows I believe [that] they are less likely to want or need the verification marrying carries. They find, dare I say, more creative ways to validate their relationship."
So why are more lesbians getting married than are gay men? Pick your favorite gender-based stereotype. This is how we see ourselves.
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