You may have read that 10% of the population is homosexual. The number comes from Alfred Kinsey’s pioneering 1948 study, where he found “10% of males were more or less exclusively homosexual and 8% of males were exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55”.
However, other studies produce lower numbers. For example, the 1990-1991 National Health and Social Life Survey found that 2.8% of men and 1.4% of women identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. On the other hand, some studies have been higher, such as a September 2006 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine that found 12% of New York City men reported having sex with other men. So what’s going on?
The answer is that some studies look at if the subject has *ever* had homosexual sex, or whether they were exclusively homosexual for a given period of time (sexual behavior). Other studies examine lifelong sexual orientation, or current status. All of the studies are “self-reporting”, and rely on the subject to tell the truth as to their sexual identity. It’s a numbers game, and the value you choose from 2 to 15 percent simply reinforces you want to believe.
The religious right has always been confused by a definition of homosexuality. They tend to have a “one drop” octoroon rule where if a man engages in homosexual sex even once, they are permanently gay, unless they undergo a 6-year “restoration” therapy. To the fundamentalist christians, there is no such thing as a gay man or women, just a straight person who has been temporarily led astray by the devil.
The point I’d like to bring out, is that even if the number of openly homosexual people is 2.8%, that still amounts to nearly 4 million men and almost 2 million women.
That’s more than the number of jewish people in America (5.2 million) or mormons (3.8 million).
More than the number of farmers (0.8 million), lawyers (0.9 million), and truck drivers (3.3 million) combined.
The bottom line is that gay marriage is important, and there is a huge segment of our population that is lacking legal and medical rights. If there was any other group in the US with as many numbers and political clout, they would have lawmakers fighting over their votes. Hopefully, the religious right will stop bickering over numbers, and provide millions of Americans with basic human rights.