Host of HBO's The Sex Inspectors and author of Meet The Hottie In The Corner.

Gay Marriage: How it Strengthens Heterosexual Marriages

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How these two ………….will help………….these two.

As outrageous as it may sound, heterosexual families will become stronger and stronger as more states follow the New York gay marriage proposal, Iowa’s gay marriage ruling and Vermont’s veto override. Gay marriage will reduce the number of divorces caused by fraudulent marriages, ensure that more orphaned children grow up in stable homes, raise the standard of living for children with gay parents, make neighborhoods safer for families, and boost the economies of struggling communities.

It’s not the license to marry that will create these benefits; it’s the massive shift in attitude that’ll result from it. The more gays are accepted as equal citizens the more stable heterosexual marriage will become. Why? Because there are an untold number of “traditional” marriages that break up because one of the spouses comes out.

Homophobia drives fearful gay men and women into fraudulent marriages. The pressure to conform, the weight of discrimination, the potential loss of cherished dreams (serving in the military, worshipping in church, getting job promotions, raising kids) propels many into marriages they otherwise wouldn’t commit to. Like my friend Cooper.

Cooper is 64 and recently divorced. He was married for 38 years before he came out. He left behind him a woman whose life was shattered by a truth that tunneled its way out of the mounds of shame, hostility and hatred that society heaped on it. The woman is 62. What is she supposed to with her life now the he’s found his?

Homophobia has a way of wounding gay and straight alike.
It creates two classes of victims: People who are forced to lie and the people they lie to. As homophobia decreases, so will the pressure for gays and lesbians to enter into fig leaf marriages. Which in turn, prevents children from being hurt by divorce and helps heterosexuals, like Cooper’s wife, create authentic, stable marriages.

Homophobia punishes heterosexuals, too. For every gay man and woman that gets punished by the legal system there are straight mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters who suffer with them.

According to my calculations (see box below), 57.6 million people are either directly or indirectly affected by homophobia. Since demographers believe there are only about 6.4 million self-identified gay people, that means 89% of the people affected by discrimination against gays are heterosexual.

No matter how they feel about homosexuality, no parent wants to see their children hurt, no brother wants to see his sister in danger, no uncle wants to see his nephew suffer. One of the intangible costs of homophobia is the excruciating emotional pain felt by everyone related to the gay family member. Lessen homophobia, as gay marriage will, and you lessen the strain on millions of families.

Estimated Numbers:
6.4 million gays and lesbians
6.4 million siblings of gays and lesbians (assuming each gay person has one sibling)
12.8 million parents of gays and lesbians (assuming each parent is alive)
25.6 million grandparents (assuming two sets of living grandparents)
6.4 million uncles and aunts (assuming one per gay person)

Total: 57.6 million

How Gay Marriage Helps Your Neighborhood

Ferndale, Michigan’s downtown was once lined with abandoned buildings. After years of courting gays to live and start businesses, it had a vacancy rate of less than 3 percent (before the recession hit.

Ferndale followed the theories in the bestselling book, “The Rise of the Creative Class.” Civic leaders across the country pay over $10,000 to hear the author, urban planner Richard Florida, talk about the best way to revitalize their communities. His thesis: If cities want to jump-start their economies they must attract the dominant economic group in America–people who think for a living (doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and computer programmers). Dubbing them the “Creative Class,” Florida points out they’re the most dominant economic group, making up nearly 30% of the workforce.

Florida produced a number of indexes measuring characteristics of successful cities. There’s a High-Tech Index (ranking cities by the size of their software, electronics and engineering sectors) and an Innovation Index (ranking cities by the number of patents per capita).

But one of Florida’s most talked-about ranking is the Gay Index. He told “Gays are the canaries of the creative economy. Where gays are will be a community that has the underlying preconditions that attract the creative class of people. Gays tend to gravitate toward the types of places that will be attractive to many members of the creative class.”

Florida, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, boils it down to this: If you want economic growth one of the things you must do is attract gays. Not because there are disproportionate numbers of gays in “Thinking Jobs” but because their presence signals the values the creative class are attracted to: Diversity, open-mindedness, variety, eccentricity.

Examples of Florida’s theories: Minneapolis’s Lorin Park, Boston’s Jamaica Plain, Chicago’s Boystown, Atlanta’s Midtown, Washington’s Dupont Circle and Adams-Morgan. Though each have the reputation of being “gay meccas,” any demographer will tell you that the vast majority of residents are heterosexual.

Disposing the Problem of Disposable Children
There are too many kids in foster care and not enough parents to adopt them. There are plenty of gay and lesbian families willing to adopt some of the 568,000 kids languishing in institutions, but statutory bans and local judiciaries refusing to grant gay adoption petitions impede them. According to the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute’s latest national survey, only 40% of public and private adoption agencies have placed children with gay adoptive parents. The same survey showed that a majority of childless gay men and women would like to become parents.

Would children in foster care be better off living in loving gay homes or institutions that warehouse and shuffle them from one home to another until they turn eighteen and “age out” of the system? Ask The American Academy of Pediatrics, The Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers. Their conclusion: Gay and lesbian homes.

What’s the best way of making that happen? Giving gay couples automatic adoption rights. And the most effective way to do that? Allow them to marry.

Gay marriage wouldn’t just improve the lives of orphans; it would also improve the lives of children who have parents that happen to be gay.

Let’s say two women with average incomes have a child together named Billy. Because the women aren’t allowed to marry, Billy doesn’t get the financial and emotional safety nets other kids get.

For example, if Billy has a serious accident while his biological mother is away, the hospital can deny him the right to see his second parent, effectively torturing the child at the time of his greatest need.

If Billy comes home to recuperate, the boss isn’t legally obligated to provide sick leave to Billy’s second parent, effectively preventing a child from being soothed by his nurturing parent.

If Billy’s biological mother dies, the surviving parent has no legal rights to Billy, effectively allowing the state to rip him from the arms of a loving mother and throw him into the foster care system.

If Billy’s parents separate, the departing parent is under no legal obligation to provide alimony or child support, effectively plunging Billy into poverty.

From his parents’ inability to get joint health, home and auto insurance policies to his own inability to access his second parent’s Social Security survival benefits, Billy suffers. Allowing same sex marriage would eliminate the unfair penalties children have to bear. Ultimately, the greatest benefactors to gay marriage are children. Over half a million of them.

Half a million? Yes, and that’s an undercount. Face-to-face surveys show that 1 percent of people identify themselves as gay. But random telephone surveys, which give more anonymity, produce numbers around 3 or 4 percent of the population. And online surveys, which give the most anonymity, consistently show the number to be around 6%. If the range is somewhere between 1-6% of the population let’s split the difference and call it 3%. But remember, that figure represents only the people brave enough to publicly identify themselves.

Still, three percent of the total U.S. population of adults 18+ (215,474,215) means there are 6,464,226 men and women who self-identify as gay.

Apply that figure to a Kaiser Family Foundation study finding that 8% of self-identified gays and lesbians are parents or legal guardians of a live-in child under 18 and you come up with 517,138 gay and lesbian households with children.

Meaning, there are over half a million children growing up with same sex parents. It also means half a million children growing up with serious disadvantages caused by the prohibition of same sex marriage.

Marriage, as everyone knows, is a stabilizing influence on relationships and a platform for greater prosperity. The benefits of marriage would encourage gays and lesbians to take even more risks in distressed neighborhoods, turning them into places that attract the mostly heterosexual “Creative Class.” The payoff to cities is clear: Encouraging stability and prosperity among gay and lesbian couples results in a bigger tax base which can then be used to improve schools, streets, and parks for its mostly-heterosexual citizens.

The Iowa gay marriage opinion and its consequences won’t just benefit same sex couples; it will benefit everyone. It will reduce divorces by preventing sham marriages, provide homes to the orphaned, protect the children of gay parents and revitalize distressed communities. It’s one of those queer ironies: Gay marriage will strengthen heterosexual families.

Check out the witty “It’s Raining Maine” for an incisive look at gay marriage’s momentum.

Where does gay marriage rank in the top ten reasons why heterosexuals divorce?

Where does gay marriage rank in the top ten reasons why heterosexuals divorce?

For an explosively emotional site that helps conservative parents come to terms with their gay children (

I’m gay and not sold on gay marriage

pixel Gay Marriage: How it Strengthens Heterosexual Marriages

31 Responses to “Gay Marriage: How it Strengthens Heterosexual Marriages”

  1. Mom Blogs – Blogs for Moms…

  2. “No matter how they feel about homosexuality, no parent wants to see their children hurt”
    – maybe that should be *most or some”? I think you’re applying some wishful thinking on that point. In response to my coming out, my father became a minister… and not the nice kind.

  3. Mike F.

    Excellent article Mike. Hopefully this will help convince people that gay marriage isn’t the end of the world. Hopefully the religious right wing zealots out there will lose their power as people see GLBT citizens deserver EQUAL rights that straights enjoy (and don’t appreciate). As a gay man, i experience the negative effects of homophobia all the time. It’s time this country moves forward on equality. We’re behind the times, Europe is much more advanced than us in many areas, such as gay rights, health care, etc.

  4. [...] How gay marriage strengthens heterosexual marriage [...]

  5. [...] a related note, read how one blogger believes gay marriage will actually strengthen straight [...]

  6. luzmejor

    I know a lot of gays and have gay relatives too. Without a doubt they are more educated, more thoughtful and ethical than many of my heterosexual acquaintances. One thing I do know from experience is that the flap over sexual orientation is wilfully false and predicated on eliminating competition for mates, jobs and all other goods, in demand, and often in short supply.

    All of the gossip and hate speech around gays has been manufactured deliberately in the same way as the hate speech around sex, pregnancy and abortion. They have as little moral currency as the Nazi’s “purity” laws did and all the same cruel motivation.

    Unfortunately, Americans love gossip, sexual innuendo and all lurid forms of libel. People who publish such stuff can and should be challenged in our higher courts.

  7. [...] How gay marriage strengthens heterosexual marriage [...]

  8. Mike – I only wish my father has lived to see my wedding. My husband and I were married on our 16th anniversary, and you cannot underestimate the power of a room full of family and friends celebrating your love for another person. Politics, anger… all flew out the window because it was about love. Doesn’t every parent want to se their child that happy? We can teach non-gay friends and family a lot about marriage. Let’s start with patience.

  9. JrzWrld

    If I ever have children, the person I would want to be the guardian of those children should anything happen to me (and my children’s father) is one of my closest friends – who is also a gay man. He wants very much to have the right to marry, and although I would support this desire in any circumstance, I find myself becoming VERY emotionally invested in this for partly selfish reasons. This is the man I would trust to raise my children above anyone else. I love my family and my good friends, but he is the person in my life whose values align the closest with mine, not to mention being the most responsible person I know. From my perspective, it is in my interests (and the interests of any kids I may have) for him to be able to form a stable long-term relationship and to marry – with all the legal benefits associated with that institution.

  10. Wow…. Thank you for that. I’m actually going to post this as an entry. You really made me think. Thanks.

  11. JrzWrld

    Hi Mike,

    Ummm, then one possible edit, if you please. There should be an “other” in front of “good friends”… My proofing skills are disastrous before 9 AM:D

    Glad you found it interesting. I don’t have kids yet, but I plan to, and I find myself thinking about this issue more and more. The interesting part about all of this to me is that I was always very dismissive of the concept of marriage, but my buddy’s strong desire to have that right (and all its associated benefits and responsibilities) has made me come to realize its importance. His respect for the institution of marriage has made me rethink my previous viewpoint that it was a dated institution or formality of no value to the modern, secular person. So I tend to be a bit bewildered by those folks who claim gay marriage will somehow devalue or make a mockery of straight marriage.

  12. [...] How gay marriage strengthens straight marriage [...]

  13. [...] How gay marriage strengthens straight marriage [...]

  14. christina

    Dear Mike, I find your article quite interesting but there is one major omission that really bothers me: the children of gay parents, or may I rephrase it, the adult children of at least one gay parent, often raised in what you label a “fraudulent marriage”. They are completely ignored in the paragraph “Homophobia punishes heterosexuals, too” and in the “Estimates Section”. I should think they (we) belong in both these paragraphs, unless as you seem to imply, the only thing that might really hurt children is their parents divorce, not the cause of the divorce, that somehow miraculously children could be immune to homophobia? Any particular reason why you omitted them (us)? Of course you talk about them (us) much later in the article, but let’s face it not many readers go past the first 5 paragraphs of any article. Anyway you give a good exposé, and I sincerely hope there will be a massive shift in attitude resulting from the license for gay people to marry. Best

  15. Christina, you’re right of course, just that I ran out of space! It IS a perspective that needs airing and I’ll remember that next time I write about the issue.

  16. De cómo el matrimonio homosexual ayuda a fortalecer la institución del matrimonio heterosexual [EN]…

    Aunque pueda encontrarse paradójico, la legalización del matrimonio homosexual ayudaría a fortalecer a las familias "tradicionales", al disminuir el número de divorcios causados por algún miembro de la pareja descubriendo o reconociendo …

  17. [...] How gay marriage strengthens straight marriage [...]

  18. [...] How gay marriage strengthens straight marriage [...]

  19. [...] How gay marriage strengthens straight marriage [...]

  20. [...] How gay marriage strengthens straight marriage [...]

  21. [...] As Maine voters hover in the voting booth reading the Proposal that will affect the lives of millions of their fellow citizens, I wonder if it will occur to any of them to think: “I shouldn’t have the right to vote on somebody else’s rights.” How gay marriage strengthens straight marriage [...]

  22. [...] How gay marriage strengthens straight marriage [...]

  23. [...] Accommodating differences always looks like the few creating a burden on the many, but it always ends up benefiting everyone.  It’s hard to see now, but once the transgendered get full worker protections in the same way women, African-Americans and the disabled have, the world will scratch its head and say, “What was the big deal?” How gay marriage strengthens straight marriage [...]

  24. [...] How gay marriage strengthens straight marriage [...]

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