cover image Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: Focus on the Facts

Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: Focus on the Facts

Sean Cahill. Lexington Books, $16.95 (159pp) ISBN 978-0-7391-0882-6

Bookstore and library shelves are now buckling under the weight of tomes about same-sex marriage, but Cahill's book promises to avoid the tedious emotional rhetoric typically associated with this debate by offering concise observations based on the 2000 census. Cahill, director of the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, wisely begins by drawing distinctions between civil union, domestic partnership and civil marriage before introducing the reader to statistical information relating to both the pro and anti-gay marriage movements. He also reveals information about the legal and economic status of the many segments of gay culture: couples, parents, senior citizens. For example, Cahill's revelation that gay men reportedly earn roughly 20 to 25% less than their heterosexual counterparts succinctly refutes the widely held ""privileged gay playboy"" myth--a tenet of the ""no special rights"" mantra of many anti-gay ballot campaigns. Germane illustrations and margin notes (""anti-gay groups outspend gay rights organizations by at least a four-to-one ratio"") help deliver statistics and the author's comments. The book concludes with profiles of two lesbian and gay couples who, following the death of their life partners, were denied basic benefits and services afforded to couples who are legally married. These are thoughtful and sobering narratives, but the intended audience for this book, chatterati and ""policymakers on both sides of the debate,"" will no doubt gravitate towards the volume's legal and economic statistical data.