It's the women, naturally. The media is noting that when enough data begins to accumulate on who gets married once marriage is legalized for same sex couples, lesbians outnumber gay men by a lot.
This doesn't surprise me at all. Women's first thought is often about coupling up; guys' ideas are more often about getting laid. I don't believe this is genetic, but it sure is what society teaches us from childhood. Actually, the stats are probably more equal than they would have been before contemporary feminism -- less women feel the need to marry right away and more guys have an inkling of the joys of reliable partnership than did 30 years ago.
What's interesting is that I don't think that it has been women who were the gay movement leaders who made marriage the central demand in the struggle for gay equality. That impetus came first from the lawyers because, better than most of us, they understood what material hits our partnerships were taking because we didn't enjoy the legal benefits of marriage -- all the 1138 federal benefits that we still lack, for example. Of course some of the lawyers were women; of the current crop, Kate Kendall from the National Center for Lesbian Rights comes to mind.
But some of the sharpest lawyers doing the strategic thinking about how to win gay equality were always gay men. I think of Matt Coles who wrote San Francisco's first Domestic Partnership law and who went on to be director of the national ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and AIDS Project. Many of the leaders of the DC advocacy outfits, notably the oh-so-Beltway HRC, have been guys, as have the leaders of Equality California and Marriage Equality New York This is not to say that women didn't and don't work in these advocacy and ballot measure campaigns, but when it comes to political maneuvering, men often still push out front. Look at Congress: still only 16 percent of members are women. Women are still more likely to be doing grunt work than thinking up the strategies.
The strategy that came from these male lawyers has proved not only successful legally -- with lots more to come -- but also tremendously appealing to mainstream straight folks. A couple of decades of work now has yielded majorities believing something like "oh -- they want to live the way we claim to think is good. They love each other. They're really not so different from us after all. It's only fair ...."
This has the advantage of being true, always good in a campaign message. The lawyers have put us in a position to erase many of our differences from straight folks.
But I still find it incongruous and maybe a little sad that it is gay men and lawyers who are leading us beyond the multiple injuries of exclusion and social derision. It took gender-bending fags and uncompromising feminist dykes to break the closet. But once our existence was shoved out into the open, it was some of those who needed liberation least who set the direction for trying to get it -- and are winning something the masses of gay folks seldom dreamed of.
All very curious ...
Photo of REUTERS/Phil McCarten