Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Solemnization, Maybe a Trend

I guess that some announced trends have a slimmer basis than comparing five years. So, let's pretend that my $15 bought insight into the available information on one-day designations of solemnization.

five-year solmenization chartI may well be the only one in Massachusetts, or the nation or world for that matter, who cares at all about this. For example, Governor's office can't figure out how to count the requests for designations. The Secretary of State's office has never tracked the numbers.

The pleasant Supervisor of Commissions for the commonwealth said they are only required to keep such records for one year. This is odd, as according to the Massachusetts record retention rules, such records are in the G4 class. Everyone else handling those has to keep them for six years. I bet the commonwealth does too, but in fairness, it has likely never gotten a request.

So, as I am so fond of asking my kids, what can we learn from this? In this case, from this tiny set of numbers, what's the word?

Disclaimer: The figure for this year is extrapolated. Through October 26th, the commonwealth recorded 1,424. At that rate, the yearly total will be 1,738.

The felt sense at the Secretary's office before the count was about 1,000 a year issued. In fact, this is close enough for 2001 through 2003. It averaged 1,021. For all five years, the average is 1,298.

We can assume that the Governor's office tosses a few, but that the ratio of requests to certificates approaches 1:1.

We cannot know the previous totals. Nor can we know why there was a big sag in 2003. Then, the big upturns come in the past two years, with this 2005 headed for nearly twice 2003's total.

The state is not gaining population, there are no big population groups suddenly reaching marital age. Thus, the causal finger points to the only substantial change — same-sex marriage. Evoking Occam's razor, we can assume that this accounted for the surges.

A possible, but unlikely, corollary is that straight couples we so offended by same-sex marriage that they rushed to wed, and in so doing, opted not for a religious or standard civil ceremony, but to have a friend or family member do the deed.

Far more consistent with the known facts is that a substantial number of those 6,000-plus gay couples went the route of asking a friend to solemnize their marriage. That was certainly the case with my second solemnization. That makes sense, is rather wholesome, and makes me glad to be a small part of this trend.

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