The campaign for “marriage equality” rarely, if ever, considered how many homosexuals wanted to get hitched in the first place.
The answer cannot be gleaned from strictly looking at the United States as a whole; the Supreme Court imposed nationwide same-sex marriage only this year. One must look to individual states, as well as to other nations to get better data.
Within the United States, Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2004 and Vermont in 2009.
The Netherlands legalized gay marriage in 2001. Belgium did the same in 2004. Spain and Canada legalized it 2005.
In order to get meaningful information to answer this question we need to know approximately what percentage of adult populations identify as homosexual and what percent of that population married since the legalization.
Finding and comparing the number of adult homosexuals who get married relative to the adult homosexual population as a whole depends on a variety of factors. How does the data define the term “homosexual”? Do all nations use the same definitions? Is the data from official sources or studies even available? Are they all from the same year?
In light of the fact that key data is not available, we will be looking at the adult gay population and the number of gay marriages in the last recorded year for each location.
This is not an ironclad analysis. In fact, due to lack of data and the variety of definitions for the word “homosexual,” one could argue that no such ironclad study exists yet. The goal here is to create a microcosm of what we hope to be a fair presentation of the whole based off available data.
So what do we know?
A 2011 study of the Netherlands defined the term “homosexual” as someone who had sex with someone of the same-sex within a year prior to a 2001 psychological survey. Under this definition, homosexuals ages 18-64 comprised 4.2% of the population.
The World Bank pegs the total 2013 population at 16,804,432. However, we are only interested in the adult homosexual population (18 and older).
Finding the precise percentage of citizens over the age of 18 outside the United States is tricky. Most sources break the population down by Ages 0-14 years and 15-24 years, making it very difficult to discern how many are 18 or older.
At least 76.7% of the United States population is 18 years or older. However, European nations typically have less children than the United States. Therefore, we will assume that 80% of their populations are 18 or older. We will assume the same of Canada.
Provided our assumption holds true, 13,443,546 (80%) of the Dutch population is 18 years or older.
This means there about 564,629 (4.2%) Dutch adult homosexuals.
According to the most recent stats from official Dutch data, there were 16,262 same sex marriages (32,524 partners) from 2001-2013 or as of 2013.
One must be at least 18 years old to be married in the Netherlands. This is also the “age of majority” or age of adulthood in the Netherlands.
This would mean that about 5.8% of adult homosexuals were married as of 2013. This is a 2.2% decrease from the 2011 study itself, which found that 8% of homosexuals were married.
The most recent marriage stats for Canada are from 2011, when a census found there were 64,575 same-sex couples, of whom 21,015 (3/10) were married.
A 2009 General Social Survey on Victimization found that only 1% of Canadians 18 and older were homosexual.
As of 2011, Canada’s population was 33,476,688, of whom about 26,781,350 (80%) were 18 or older as of 2011.
Based on the 2009 General Social Survey on Victimization statistics, this means that the Canadian homosexual population age 18 and older rests at about 267,814 (1%).
Since there were 21,015 married same-sex couples (42,030 people) as of 2011, that means only 16% of Canadian homosexuals ages 18 and older were married as of 2011.
Information supplied by the Canadian Community Health Survey (which defines the term “homosexual” as someone who identifies as such), says that 1.7% Canadians aged 18 to 59 in 2014 self-identified as gay or lesbian.
Assuming about 26,781,350 Canadians are 18 years old or older, there are about 455,283 homosexuals among the adult population, according to this survey.
In light of the fact that there were 21,015 married same sex coupes (42,030) in 2011, that would mean only 9% of Canadian adult homosexuals got married as of 2011.
It is worth noting that some marriages may have been missed in this analysis. This latter statistic says that 1.7% of Canadians aged 18-59 are self identified homosexuals. However, this number is multiplied by 26,781,350, the estimated population ages 18 and older. This means the number of homosexuals is likely higher than the 1.7% reports. If true, this would mean that the percentage of homosexuals who got married is actually lower than 9%.
There is another factor to consider as well. According to this source, it is possible to get married as early as 16 with parental consent from both parties. The official law on the books forbids any marriage under 16 years of age.
The criteria of “adulthood” or “age of majority” varies among Canadian provinces. Some say 18 year olds are adults, while others say one is an adult at 19 years of age. In any case, the analysis of the 18 year-old population remains intact.
I could not find surveys or data estimating the homosexual population of Spain.
As previously noted, 1-1.7% of the Canadian Population identifies as homosexual.
Other findings revealed that 1.6% of the US population ages 18 and over identified as homosexual.
A recent study of UK found that 1% of its population identified as homosexual.
The Netherlands Study, which used a different definition of “homosexual,” is an outlier with 4.2% of its population being homosexual.
Therefore, in light of available data, it seems generous to estimate that 1-2% of Spain’s population is homosexual.
In 2014 Spain’s population was at 46,404,602, and about 37,123,682 (80%) was 18 or older.
This means that the adult Spanish homosexual population is between 371,237 (1%) and 742,474 (2%)
Provided our assumptions hold true, 9-17% of adult Spanish homosexuals were married as of 2013.
It is worth noting that until July 2015 Spain allowed people as young as 14 years old to get married. It is now 16 years of age. Despite this, Spain still considers 18 years of age to be the earliest mark of adulthood. Therefore the analysis of adult populations remains intact.
Belgium saw 23,531 “people involved in a marriage with someone of the same sex” as of 2014.
This means there were 11,766 gay marriages as of 2014.
We will assume that 1-2% of Belgium’s population is homosexual, as like Spain, the official information could not be found.
Furthermore, we will carry the assumption that all nations outside the United States have an adult population rate of 80%.
Belgium’s population in 2014 was 11,225,207. Following our assumption, this would indicate that about 8,980,166 (80%) Belgians are 18 or older.
Provided that 1-2% of its population is homosexual the numbers play out as follows:
Anywhere between 89,802 (1%) and 179,603 (2%) of the adult population is homosexual.
Provided our assumptions hold true, this means that anywhere between 13-26% of Adult homosexuals were married as of 2014.
A Gallup study found that 4.4% of the Massachusetts population is LGBT. However, we seek only the gay and lesbian demographics. In light of unavailable data on the homosexual population directly, we will assume that Massachusetts’ homosexual population will reflect the 1.6% national average.
As of 2013, Massachusetts had a population of 6,708,874. It had an adult population of 5,313,428 (79.2%).
Provided the homosexual population in Massachusetts reflects the national average, we can say that there were about 85,015 homosexual adults as of 2013.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health / Registry of Vital Records and Statistics says there were 25,739 homosexual marriages (51,478 people) as of 2013.
Provided our assumptions hold water, this would indicate 61% of Massachusetts’ adult homosexuals were married as of 2013.
There is conflicting data on this subject. According to American Community Survey Data in 2013, based on federal census info, there were 14,267 same-sex households that were same-sex spouses in Massachusetts. This means that there were about 28,535 homosexuals who were married as of 2013.
If this is true, then married adult homosexuals constitute only 34% of the adult homosexual population.
This means that there is a 27% difference between the finding of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the American Community Survey Data.
Bear in mind, the American Community Survey Data should be approached with great caution, as it comes from a source that documented gay marriages in states that did not legalize the practice at the time of the study.
In 2013, Vermont had a population of 626,855.
According to census data 503,991 (80.4%) of Vermont’s population is 18 years or older.
Assuming that Vermont’s homosexual population matches the national average of 1.6%, there were 8,064 adult homosexuals as of 2013.
According to American Community Survey Data, based on federal census info, there were at least 2,881 Vermont same-sex households in 2013, of which 1,413 were “same-sex spouses.” This would mean that there were 2,826 homosexuals who were married as of 2013.
With this in mind, provided the assumptions hold true, 35% of adult homosexuals in Vermont were married as of 2013.
Bear in mind, this data should be approached with great caution, as it comes from a source that documented gay marriages in states that did not legalize the practice at the time of the study.
A review of our assumptions in order.
We assumed in this study that 80% of the populations of nations outside the United States is 18 years or older.
We also assumed that homosexuals comprised 1-2% of Spain and Belgium’s population.
We further assumed that the homosexual populations of Massachusetts and Vermont reflected the national average of the United States (1.6%).
Provided these assumptions hold true, this is what we are told by the numbers in light of available data.
Despite 14 years of time since the Netherlands lead the way in legalizing gay marriage, not one nation outside the United States has even a 30% marriage rate among its adult (18 years or older) gay population. Furthermore, the actual rate of marriage among homosexuals in these nations could be less than 13 percent
The two states surveyed in this study tell a different story: seemingly about 34% and 35% of the Massachusetts and Vermont homosexual populations respectively have gotten married. Why are these numbers higher than in Europe or Canada?
It is possible that these states, which are socially liberal, and have had same sex marriage the longest, have a higher percentage of homosexuals in their populations than the 1.7% estimated for the U.S. overall. If so, the actual percentages of married homosexuals in these states would potentially be much less.
If Massachusetts, for example, has a homosexual population commensurate with the Netherlands, at 4.2%, there would be about 281,773 homosexuals in Massachusetts, of whom 10% are married. This higher number would align with the Gallup study. If the same were true for Vermont, 13% of its homosexual population would be married.
In the end, until new data can prove otherwise, one is forced to conclude that the percentage of adult homosexuals who acted on the chance to get married remains below the 1/3 mark in most places around the world.