Of the same-sex couples who married in Utah after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage, most were lesbian and many were older than their opposite-sex counterparts in lines at county clerks’ offices.
Records from the 22 counties in which same-sex couples married after U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby’s Dec. 20 ruling indicate that 1,243 same-sex couples married — below widely publicized totals of around 1,350 that were based on county clerk estimates. Of those marriages, 761 (or 61 percent) were between women and 482 or (39 percent) between men.
Same-sex marriages by county
Salt Lake » 768 (319 male, 449 female)
Davis » 139 (51 male, 88 female)
Weber » 128 (41 male, 87 female)
Washington » 55 (25 male, 30 female)
Summit » 40 (10 male, 30 female)
Tooele » 31 (10 male, 21 female)
Utah » 15 (6 male, 9 female)
Cache » 13 (3 male, 10 female)
Grand » 10 (4 male, 6 female)
Box Elder » 9 (1 male, 8 female)
Uintah » 9 (4 male, 5 female)
Carbon » 5 (1 male, 4 female)
Iron » 4 (1 male, 3 female)
Wasatch » 4 (2 male, 2 female)
Kane » 3 (1 male, 2 female)
Sanpete » 3 (1 male, 2 female)
Duchesne » 2 (1 male, 1 female)
Juab » 1 (1 female)
Millard » 1 (1 male)
San Juan » 1 (1 female)
Sevier » 1 (1 female)
Wayne » 1 (1 female)
Source: County marriage license records
According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 8 percent of adult men and 7 percent of adult women identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. But the fact that more Utah lesbians married than gay men is consistent with national trends. A Pew Research study in June found that more than three-fifths of the nation’s more than 50,000 same-sex couples were lesbian.
Only a handful of Utah counties provided the full marriage licenses requested by The Salt Lake Tribune, while others sent lists with names and varying additional information. And because the marriage licenses and lists don’t have a gender field, The Tribune has made assumptions about common names (for instance, concluding that David and Robert are both males) and used records databases, Google and Facebook to determine the genders of those with unisex names (think Jordan and Taylor).
Bearing that in mind, here are some observations from the available statistics:
• Likely influenced by the fear that the state would stop recognizing same-sex marriages, 775 of 920 couples (for which the data are available), or 84 percent, had their marriages officiated on the same day they received their licenses.
• Just 3 percent of 927 couples (for which the data are available) who received their licenses, or 31, did not marry. Applying that percentage to the grand total, there are likely about 1,200 same-sex couples (1,243 minus 42) who not only received licenses but also were officially married during the 17-day window.
• The day of Shelby’s ruling, Dec. 20, 114 couples received licenses in Salt Lake County, and two in Washington County. Just four couples married Monday, Jan. 6, in the hourlong window before U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a stay.
• A fairly small sample size of 165 couples who married in Box Elder, Cache, Duchesne, Kane, San Juan, Summit, Utah and Wayne counties shows that same-sex couples — as you might expect, given that they could not previously marry — were quite a bit older than the rest of the marrying population.
The average age for a male couple was 43, and the average age for a female couple was 44. And, again with the caveat that this is derived from a small sample size, parties in the marriage had relatively wide age discrepancies. The average age difference in a male couple was 7.4 years, and the average age difference between women was 5.4 years.
According to state numbers, the median age at first marriage for opposite-sex couples is 26.1 for the groom and 23.5 for the bride. A nationwide 2011 Pew Research study pinned those averages at 28.7 and 26.5, respectively.
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