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FIRST-PERSON: A few thoughts on the gay non-monogamy study

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–“Forsaking all others, I pledge myself to you,” is a phrase — a vow, a promise — that has been uttered by every couple in marriage ceremony I have ever participated.

I suspect that some variation of the aforementioned phrase has been, and is still, included in the vast majority of wedding vows. There is, however, one notable exception: Many homosexual “wedding ceremonies” do not include a vow of faithfulness.

The New York Times recently previewed on its website a yet-to-be-released study by San Francisco State University that has found monogamy is not a central feature or expectation for about half of male couples.

The Gay Couples Study followed 556 San Francisco Bay area male couples for three years and found, in the words of The Times, that “about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.”

A myriad of studies have found that homosexual men in general are quite promiscuous. That said, I would suspect that a significant percentage of “the other” 50 percent involved in the San Francisco State survey are, shall we say, less than faithful. According to Baptist Press, “the San Francisco research is not the first one to show a lack of monogamy among male couples. A study by University of Vermont researchers showed that only half of male couples who had entered into civil unions in 2000-2001 believed monogamy was important.”

The revelations in The Gay Couples Study come as no surprise to the homosexual community. The EdgeBoston.com website, popular among homosexuals in Massachusetts, commented on the findings with its editor in chief writing, “Some may put this into the category of ‘studies that confirm the painfully obvious.'” The story ran under the headline “Surprise! Lots of Gay Marriages Are ‘Open.'”

Andrew Sullivan, an author and cultural commentator who also is homosexual, wrote in the 1990s book “Virtually Normal” that “there is more likely to be greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman…. The truth is, homosexuals are not entirely normal; and to flatten their varied and complicated lives into a single, moralistic model is to miss what is essential and exhilarating about their otherness.”

While homosexual activists have tried to pawn off on the American public that their relationships are no different than heterosexuals, The Gay Couples Study reveals otherwise. When it comes to marriage the vast majority of heterosexuals come to the altar with the expectation of monogamy. That is not the case with the homosexual community.

While it is true that there are heterosexual couples that practice what is known as “open-marriage” where monogamy is not an expectation, these relationships are the rare exception and not the rule.

Some will argue that “homosexual marriages” are simply more honest in their expectations. After all, we are told, the stats indicate that 50 percent of all heterosexual marriages end in divorce.

There is no doubt that heterosexual marriage needs strengthening. However, the 50 percent divorce stat is more myth than fact. The New York Times published an article in 2005 titled “Divorce Rate: It’s not as high as you think.” In the report the Times wrote, “The figure is based on a simple — and flawed — calculation: the annual marriage rate per 1,000 people compared with the annual divorce rate. In 2003, for example, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 7.5 marriages per 1,000 people and 3.8 divorces, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

“[R]esearchers say that this [the 50 percent divorce rate] is misleading because the people who are divorcing in any given year are not the same as those who are marrying, and that the statistic is virtually useless in understanding divorce rates.”

The method preferred by social scientists is “to calculate how many people who have ever married subsequently divorced.” Doing that, The Times said, the divorce rate has never exceeded 41 percent.

Research conducted by George Barna in 2001 estimates that about a third of those who have ever been married have ever been divorced.

One in three marriages ending in divorce is not good, however it is quite a bit less than 50 percent. And the causes for heterosexual break-ups are usually not infidelity: A British survey from 2005 showed affairs caused one in four divorces.

The bottom line reality is that heterosexuals come to marriage with an expectation of monogamy. Many homosexuals do not. The Gay Couples Study confirms the latter, but it apparently does not try to explain it.

Why do heterosexuals and homosexuals come to marriage with such different expectations? From my experience, most heterosexual couples do not get married primarily for sexual reasons. While sex is an expectation in the relationship, it is not the driving force.

Compatibility on a variety of levels — including future goals and aspirations, and the desire for children — are all motivations for the vast majority of heterosexuals who marry. While these motivations might also be true for homosexual men, the driving force for their relationships is often sexual.

The Gay Couple Study — and others like it — all but confirms that the primary motivation in (apparently) a majority of homosexual male relationships is sex. Why else would they reject the idea of monogamy? For so many homosexual males, if promiscuity is not part of marriage, they aren’t interested. As a result, most are unwilling to repeat the vow: “Forsaking all others, I pledge myself to you.”
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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  • Kelly Boggs