Friday, July 11, 2003

A recent study on homosexual relationships finds they last 1-1/2 years on average — even as homosexual groups are pushing nationwide to legalize same-sex “marriages.”

The study of young Dutch homosexual men by Dr. Maria Xiridou of the Amsterdam Municipal Health Service, published in May in the journal AIDS, mirrors findings of past research.

Among heterosexuals, by contrast, 67 percent of first marriages in the United States last at least 10 years, and researchers report that more than three-quarters of married people say they have been faithful to their vows.

Same-sex “marriage” has gained new attention since a Supreme Court decision last month struck down state laws against homosexual behavior. Conservative activists say they expect the state Supreme Court in Massachusetts to rule this weekend on whether to recognize homosexual “marriages.”

The Dutch study — which focused on transmission of HIV — found that men in homosexual relationships on average have eight partners a year outside those relationships.

Earlier studies also indicated that homosexual men are not monogamous, even when they are involved in long-term relationships.

In “The Male Couple,” published in 1984, authors David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison report that in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting anywhere from one to 37 years, all couples with relationships more than five years had incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity.

“Fidelity is not defined in terms of sexual behavior but rather by their emotional commitment to each other,” the authors said. “Ninety-five percent of the couples have an arrangement whereby the partners may have sexual activity with others.”

Such findings show how recognition of same-sex unions would “erode the ideal” of traditional marriage, Pete LaBarbara, senior policy analyst at Concerned Women for America’s Culture and Family Institute.

“They’re redefining what it means to be monogamous,” Mr. LaBarbara said. “It’s just preposterous to claim that these relationships even approximate normal, steady relationships.”

The Amsterdam study is “proof positive that these relationships … will never be as stable as a normal heterosexual relationship regardless of what institutions or laws are changed,” Mr. LaBarbara said.

But homosexual groups say recent data indicate that homosexual relationships look increasingly like heterosexual marriage.

About 40 percent of homosexual couples had been together in a household for at least five years, compared to roughly 60 percent of married heterosexual couples who had been together at least that long, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data produced for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation.

The HRC analysis found that relationships were shortest for unmarried heterosexual partners living together, only 18 percent of whom had been together in the household for at least five years.

“Anecdotally, there’s quite a bit of evidence that as gays and lesbians are becoming more accepted, you’re finding greater levels of stability,” said Gary Gates, a researcher for the Urban Institute who compiled the data for HRC, which supports same-sex “marriage.”

Mr. Gates said 25 percent of male homosexual couples had children in the household and 38 percent of lesbian couples had children in the household, compared with 48 percent of heterosexual married couples. And 66 percent of the male homosexual couples and 68 percent of lesbian couples owned their home, compared with 81 percent of heterosexual married couples. He said these are signs of increasing stability.

David Smith, spokesman for HRC, dismissed the Amsterdam study, saying he personally has been in a monogamous relationship for 10 years and, “most gay people I know have been in relationships many, many years and they’re absolutely monogamous.”

He said his personal experience is that homosexuals settle down just like heterosexuals.

He also said those throwing out “wild charges” that homosexuals are promiscuous are hypocritical because they will not let same-sex couples have marriage rights, which would provide even more stability under the law.

But Mr. LaBarbara said marriage would not change the promiscuity he called “rampant” among homosexuals. He said on the contrary, same-sex “marriage” would just “erode [marriage] further.”

The state of Vermont has allowed civil unions between same-sex couples since 2000, and a study by two University of Vermont psychology professors compared homosexual couples in civil unions with homosexual couples not in unions, and married heterosexual couples.

Among the Vermont findings, the overwhelming majority of women — both lesbians and married heterosexuals — felt it was not acceptable to have sex outside of their primary relationship. However, 79 percent of married men felt sex outside marriage was not OK, compared to 34 percent of homosexual men in committed relationships and 50 percent of homosexual men in civil unions.

But such open relationships — in which homosexual men accept that their partners will have sex with others — are not harmful, said Anne Peplau, a psychology professor at the University of California at Los Angeles.

“There is clear evidence that gay men are less likely to have sexually exclusive relationships than other people — but this is not typically harmful to their relationships because partners agree that it’s acceptable,” said Miss Peplau. “Many heterosexual men also are non-monogamous, but may be more secretive about their behavior.”

However, Peter Sprigg, director of Marriage and Family Studies at the Family Research Council, pointed to a 1997 national survey published in the Journal of Sex Research that found 77 percent of married men and 88 percent of married women had remained faithful to their marriage vows.

According to 2001 data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), 67 percent of first marriages last 10 years, and 50 percent last 20 years. Marriages involving teenagers are more prone to divorce; for marriages in which the bride is at least age 20, about 60 percent last 20 years, according to NCHS data.

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