American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage Myths

Resources > Myths and Facts

Myth: Civil unions and domestic partnerships give gay and lesbian couples the same rights as marriage.


  • Prop. 8 case, Federal District Court: “The evidence at trial shows that domestic partnerships exist solely to differentiate same-sex unions from marriages. A domestic partnership is not a marriage.
  • Supreme Court of Connecticut: “the segregation of heterosexual and homosexual couples into separate institutions constitutes a cognizable harm.
  • Vermont Commission of Family Recognition and Protection: “clear, significant differences between the benefits, privileges, and responsibilities attached to a civil union versus a heterosexual marriage.”
  • New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission: “separate categorization established by the Civil Union Act invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children.”
  • California’s had domestic partnerships since 1999, and nearly every year they have to pass new laws to close loopholes that prevent gay and lesbian couples from being treated equally.
  • At this point in our country’s history, we can say with confidence that separate is not equal. And it never will be.

Myth: Marriage exists solely for heterosexual procreation.


  • Straight couples aren’t the only ones raising children. Gay and lesbian couples have families too, and they need the protection that marriage offers.
  • According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, at least 110,000 gay and lesbian couples are raising children. These couples live in all 50 states.
  • Professor Lee Badgett testified that laws like Prop. 8 have “inflicted substantial economic harm on same sex couples and their children.”
  • Professor Michael Lamb, a Cambridge psychologist, testified that “for a significant number of these children [raised by gay and lesbian parents], their adjustment would be promoted were their parents able to get married.”
  • During the Prop.8 trial, David Blankenhorn testified that the freedom to marry “would extend a wide range of the natural and practical benefits of marriage to many lesbian and gay couples and their children.”

Myth: In other states, people were punished for opposing marriage equality.


  • Nobody gets punished simply for disagreeing with a law. People only come under scrutiny if they break the law or abuse their position of authority.
  • Most of the cases cited by equality-opponents actually happened in states that didn’t even have marriage equality.
  • Republican San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, during the Prop. 8 trial: “if government tolerates discrimination against anyone for any reason, it becomes an excuse for the public to do exactly the same thing.”

Myth: There are practical reasons for opposing the freedom to marry.


  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Prop. 8 case: “Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Prop. 8 Case: “It will not do to say that Proposition 8 was intended only to disapprove of same-sex marriage, rather than to pass judgment on same-sex couples as people. … [T]he elimination of the right to use the official designation of ‘marriage’ for the relationships of committed same-sex couples send a message that gays and lesbians are of lesser worth as a class-that they enjoy a lesser societal status. … By withdrawing the availability of the recognized designation of ‘marriage,’ Proposition 8 enacts nothing more or less than a judgment about the worth and dignity of gays and lesbians as a class.”
  • Federal District Court in Prop. 8 case: “Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples … Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”