Remember that New York Times article a few days ago on that study that showed that half or more of all same-sex marriages were “open”?
A study to be released next month is offering a rare glimpse inside gay relationships and reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage ‚Äî one that might point the way for the survival of the institution.
Okay…now you have to look carefully there to even notice that they’re lumping “relationships” in with with marriage…which is just barely defensible I suppose in a study that took place in a state where same-sex marriage was rendered null and void by proposition 8. If your subjects cannot legally marry, then where do you draw the line between deeply committed couples and those who may or may not reach that point in the future, but who at any rate aren’t ready for the “M” word just yet?
But that’s assuming the mistakes here are honest ones. They’re not. Timothy Kincaid over at Box Turtle Bulletin does a sharp analysis of what this study does, and does not actually say about same-sex couples.
And the first thing you notice…of course…is that the focus of the study wasn’t about marriage…
For several years, Sean Beougher and Colleen Hoff of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University have been looking sexual agreements among gay men. This interest was generated by incidences of HIV transmission within relationships and a desire to understand how sexual agreements relate to this phenomenon.
Dig it. Sexual agreements among gay men. That could be marriage, it could be Friends With Benefits, it could be Mr Right or Mr Right Away. And they were interested in HIV transmission between gay men, not how same-sex marriages either succeed or fail. This study was not focused on same-sex marriages, but the much broader scope of same-sex Relationships. Yet the New York Times decided to headline their story on this study: Many Successful Gay Marriages Share An Open Secret. Gotta love that journalmalism stuff they do there in the Times Building.
This reminds me very much of how the anti-gay right distorts the study Bell and Weinberg did in the late 1970s, titled Homosexualities. That study is frequently cited as proof that gay men have hundreds of sexual partners in their lifetimes, even though the authors themselves take pains Right In The Book (I have a copy) to tell people their sample population is not only unrepresentative, but that the study itself was not intended to be a tabulation of what percentage of gay people engaged in which sorts of behaviors. It was intended to illuminate the diversity of gay lives and it is one of the great feats of anti-gay propaganda that it became instead a tool for bigots to justify their cheap bar stool stereotype of The Homosexual.
But you expect that sort of thing from the kook pews. You don’t expect it from the New York Times. Here is what “sexual agreements” looked like in this study…
To be eligible participants had to have been at least 18 years old, have been in a their current relationship for at least 3 months, have knowledge of their own and their partner’ HIV status, be fluent in English, and be residents of the San Francisco Bay Area.
And it gets better…
The study was conducted in several phases and the details of each is not available, but the sampling methods were consistent. The breakout for Study 2 found that only 13% of participants identified as being married (perhaps the 2004 San Francisco variety) and only a third had made any sort of public commitment.
Go read the rest of it. Try not to keep asking yourself why after all these years we are still seeing dishonest crap like this offered up as proof that homosexual relationships are nothing more meaningful or noble then brief, barren assignations.