Statistics represent gay, straight marriage differently

To the Editor:

Gregory DuBoff fingers as “cause for concern” a University of Vermont finding that 34 percent of gay men in committed relationships and 50 percent in civil unions feel it unacceptable to have sex outside a primary relationship. As a typically fashion-conscious gay man, I know statistics — like black — never go out of style. But I’d like to mention another study, Atwood & Schwartz 2002, which found 45-55 percent of married women and 50-60 percent of married men have had extramarital sex. Would a similar percentage of married heterosexuals condone such behavior? Doubtful. Far from being less committed than straight unions, it seems gay relationships are more honest.

If one buys that commitment equals exclusivity, DuBoff’s statistics show gay men in government-sanctioned relationships are less likely to have sex with other partners. This causality is debatable, but it could hardly be argued that those civil unions make their participants less committed. If anything, a legal union and its responsibilities bring a couple closer together — a trend that should be embraced by those who feel committed relationships strengthen society.

According to the Department of Justice (2000), black men and women suffer domestic violence rates 62 percent and 35 percent, respectively, higher than whites (with both values about 22 times higher than those of other races). Domestic violence probably harms society far more than extramarital sex does, but does that mean we should withhold marriage certificates from black couples? I don’t think so.

Jacob First ’07

March 22, 2006

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