The Vermont legislation to redefine marriage goes into effect today, so same-sex couples can access marriage licenses there. As with other jurisdictions, the actual interest in marrying has been underwhelming. Last year, the Williams Institute issued a report on the number of same-sex couples who have taken advantage of same-sex marriage laws. Even with the optimistic spin of the Institute, only 52% of same-sex couples in Massachusetts (using Census data as a baseline) had married. If the Census data is an undercount, as often claimed by gay-rights groups, the proportion would, of course, be lower. An Institute for Marriage and Public Policy analysis compares marriage uptake to the total number of gays and lesbians in a jurisdiction and finds an extremely low interest in marriage. This lack of interest among same-sex couples and gays and lesbians in actually being married in states that have redefined marriage provides little support to the argument that redefining marriage is going to change the behavior of same-sex couples. This is especially true for male same-sex couples who are significantly underrepresented in marriage statistics (according to the Williams Institute, 64% of Massachusetts same-sex marriages involve women though 51% of same-sex couples in the state are female couples). On the other hand, lack of interest in marrying by same-sex couples does not seem to have any impact on other effects of redefining marriage (noted by Maggie Gallagher), such as declining support for the idea that children need a mother and father and an increasing sense that it is unsafe to oppose same-sex marriage openly.
In Washington, the Secretary of State has announced that Referendum 71, a measure that would repeal the quasi-marital status created by the legislature last session, has qualified for the ballot. The vote on the referendum would take place November 3.