Marriages Surge in CA Post-DOMA
Data just recently released has shown that in July, just after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), more California couples were married than in any other month since 2006.
According to data from the California Department of Public Health about 30,800 couples received marriage licenses in California this July, a near 35 percent increase compared to July 2012.
California doesn’t make distinctions between same-sex and heterosexual marriages which make it difficult to identify how many of the marriages involved same-sex couples.
Matt Conens is the spokesman for the California Department of Public Health.
“The marriage applications don’t ask about the gender so we don’t have that information,” Conens told the Associated Press (AP).
With the increase of new marriages happening just a month after the striking down of DOMA, a large percentage of the 30,000 marriages are being contributed to gay couples who hurried to get their marriage licenses knowing they were to now receive federal recognition.
The California Department of Public Health’s statistics also showed an increase of 12 percent in June of 2008 when the California Supreme Court struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage. The case which was called “In re Marriage Cases,” included six appeals and the court held that laws treating classes of persons differently based on sexual orientation should be subject to strict judicial scrutiny and same-sex couples’ access to marriage is a fundamental right under the state constitution. The court’s ruling was the first in the United States to establish sexual orientation as a suspect classification but only lasted a limited time.
On Nov. 4, 2008, Proposition 8 was approved by California voters which limited marriage to heterosexual couples only under the state constitution and temporarily banned same-sex marriage in the state. Proposition 8 was later found unconstitutional and same-sex marriage resumed in California.
Gary Gates is a University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) scholar who specializes in the demographics of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender populations.
“About 30 percent of existing same-sex couples in a state would be married within the first year after marriage was legalized,” Gates told AP citing a study published by colleagues the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute in November of 2011. “Within three years, it was about half.”
Within the 30 percent of the same-sex marriages the first year, the study shows just 18 percent of gay couples entered into “civil unions or broad domestic partnerships,” and only 8 percent of same-sex couples entered into other “legal relationship statuses with limited rights.”
The demographic researchers presume the results are based on the fact that same-sex couples “prefer marriage over other non-marital legal statuses,” because “it comes with an important symbolic meaning in our society.”
At the time of the study in 2011, only Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont could provide marriage date but as of now 16 states and DC allow same-sex marriage.
“You’re not just getting California recognition,” Gates told AP. “You’re getting federal recognition.”
Gates says the 30 percent mark may turn out to be even more same-sex couples within the first year in California since marriages include higher stakes and benefits than before.
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