NOM’s Hilarious Incompetence

Rob Tisinai

June 12th, 2013

Hi all, I’m home from the AIDS/LifeCycle. Thanks again for all your support. I’ll be writing more about it soon (I’d planned to tweet the event, but discovered — too late — that my backup batteries for my old Galaxy S don’t work in my new Galaxy S3. Sorry.)

Anyway, maybe it’s just the “love bubble” that envelops us during the event, or perhaps it’s just that we’re so clearly winning the fight for our rights, but ridiculous statements from NOM that would have once outraged me now just strike me as hilarious. For instance, this headline:

New Danish Study of 6.5 Million: Health Benefits of Marriage are Unique to Male-Female Unions

NOM earnestly quotes this commentary about the study:

During 2000 to 2011, Danish male-female married couples were the healthiest and least likely to die at various ages compared with individuals who were unmarried, divorced or widowed. In contrast, same-sex married men in Denmark were no healthier than unmarried men. Same-sex married women had much higher mortality rates than other women, including the ones who were unmarried, divorced or widowed.

What were those dates? 2000 to 2011?

Denmark didn’t legalize same-sex marriage until 2012.

Heh. It’s dangerous to underestimate your opponents, but to me right now NOM seems just so damned cute. They’re the little engine that couldn’t.

Of course, Denmark did legalize civil unions in back in 1989. That means this data isn’t a slam against same-sex marriage, but a suggestion that civil unions aren’t a just substitute for the real thing.

Which is what we’ve been saying all along. NOM is just helping us spread the word.

They’re cute, I’m telling you, cute.


June 12th, 2013

Isn’t this the same study y’all wrote about on this site a couple of months ago? ( )

And doesn’t it say, IN THE VERY SECTION THEY QUOTE: “Of note, mortality among same-sex married men has declined markedly since the mid-1990s…”? And isn’t that exactly the time period that civil unions have been legal?

Seriously, the ability of those people to ignore reality continues to astound me.

Way back in March, Timothy said “What do you bet NOM mentions this study… but only the part about married lesbians mortality beginning to increase.” He didn’t quite nail the specific way they would be delusional, but he sure was right that they would have their own special reading of these stats.

Timothy Kincaid

June 12th, 2013

That “English Manif” blogsite they quote… yeah, that would be self-loathing Robert Oscar Lopez.


June 12th, 2013

Also, the valid comparison would be gay and lesbian married couples vs gay and lesbian singles. That would tell you whether marriage benefited gay people, and you could compare that benefit to how much marriage benefits straight people.

The comparison they’ve done here, in addition to being wrong for the reasons you said, isn’t controlling for the fact that there may be health disparities between gay and straight people — married or not.


June 12th, 2013

Good point, esurience. The study doesn’t have data about its subjects’ sexuality. I accessed the study through my university, and I’m reading it right now (though it’s not my field at all, so I welcome anyone else to read it!). The closest they can get is comparing “same-sex cohabiting men” (which they use as a rough proxy for gay men, see p. 571) with same-sex married men (and, as Rob points out, those are really men in civil unions). And on page 571, they write that “among same-sex cohabiting men those in same-sex marriages had the lowest mortality.”

So the study does suggest a “marriage benefit” for male couples, and (big surprise!) the NOM folks are wrong.

It’s also interesting to note that, according to figure 2 on page 571, the mortality rates for married (civilly united) lesbians declined precipitously throughout the 1990s and just started ticking up in 2005. They’re still nowhere near as high as they were throughout the 90s.


June 13th, 2013

While the criticism in Tsinai’s post is correct, he misses the main problem with NOM’s claims. NOM says that there was no marriage benefit because gay couples are no more healthy than unmarried people. But to determine whether or not there has been a benefit, the relevant comparison is between gay couples before marriage was allowed and gay couples after. Alternatively, we might compare a current snapshot of gay married couples with gay singles or gay cohabitants.

But what NOM does is compare gay marrieds to all unmarrieds (which would be 96% straight). Whatever that comparison shows, it won’t tell you whether there has been a marriage benefit.

As the study’s own abstract indicates, there has been a significant benefit to gay male couples. However, because gay health outcomes before marriage were so poor (for a variety of reasons), the improvement now has just drawn married gays even with straight singles. They are the healthiest gays around. This is what it has accomplished even though it has only been around for a couple of decades – and for most of that time as an odd component of Danish law rather than a real cultural norm – and even though it hasn’t even been genuine marriage until 2012. Let real marriage bloom and let it become a cultural norm and you will only build on the health benefits that we have already seen.

Rob Tisinai

June 13th, 2013

Folks, the reason I haven’t focused on the gains in gay male health since the mid-90s is that there’s another clear explanation: protease inhibitors. I don’t want to make NOM’s constant mistake of assuming that marriage is the reason behind every social development, especially when other factors are clearly in play.


June 13th, 2013

Totally reasonable, Rob. But protease inhibitors don’t explain why “among same-sex cohabiting men those in same-sex marriages had the lowest mortality.” Or why mortality rates for married lesbians plummeted in parallel with those of married gay men until 2005.

It’s interesting data, anyway. But you’re right that it’s best to approach it with caution.

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