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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Facts on marriage for all sides in the HJR-3 battle

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With all the passion expressed by supporters and opponents of HJR-3, Indiana’s marriage constitutional amendment, nobody ever examined the actual state of marriage in Indiana and Indianapolis.

Behind the passionate, sometimes overheated debates on marriage lies a lot of misinformation about the status of marriage in America.

So, since I’m Indy’s data geek, I thought I’d share stats that no other Indy media has attempted to publish.

The cold fact is that married couple households are a minority of American households.

The 2012 Census American Community Survey (ACS) said that of America’s 116 million households, just 48.1 percent are married couple households.

Of white non-Hispanic American households, married households are still a majority; but barely at 51.2 percent.

There’s a perception that marriage is a bedrock among Hispanics; but nationally, just 47.7 percent of Hispanic households are married ones.

And while marriage remains a desirable and esteemed institution in the African-American community, only 27.4 percent of the nation’s 14.1 million African-American households are married households.

Think married households are the majority in Indiana? Think again. Of Indiana’s 2.49 million households, 49.6 percent are married couple ones.

Among white non-Hispanic Hoosier households, 52.4 percent are married couple households, according to the 2012 Census ACS.

Of Indiana’s Hispanic households, 47.3 percent are married. Among Indiana’s Black households, just 24.8 percent are married.

In Indiana’s largest city-county, the stats differ than those for marriage statewide and nationally.

Of Indianapolis-Marion County’s 363,157 households, the 2012 Census ACS says just a third (36.9 percent) are married couple households; the 11th highest percentage of America’s 25 biggest cities. If you’re shocked by that 36.9 percent figure consider this. In 18 of America’s 25 largest cities, less than 40 percent of those city’s households are married ones.

Married couple households are a minority among Indy’s three major racial-ethnic groups. Married couples are 22.7 percent of all Indy Black households; 34.4 percent of Hispanic households and only 43.5 percent of white non-Hispanic households.

The data are clear that as an institution, marriage doesn’t occupy majority status among American households. And for several decades, marriage hasn’t even come close to being the majority type of household in Black communities here and nationwide.

The Census ACS doesn’t collect data on same sex marriages. But beginning in 2006, the bureau did start collecting data on “unmarried partner households.”

The Census defines an unmarried partner household as one “In which the householder reports having an unmarried partner – a person with whom they share living quarters and have an intimate relationship.”

In 2012, according to the Census ACS, there were 6,928,231 unmarried partner households in the nation; 6.0 percent all American households. Of that number, only 639,440 were same sex unmarried partner households; 0.6 percent of all households.

By far the largest number of unmarried partner households are those with opposite sex partners. In 2012, there were 6,288,791 opposite sex unmarried partner households; 5.4 percent of all American households.

In Indiana, there’s 12,069 same sex unmarried partner households; just 0.5 percent of all Hoosier households. But another 5.5 percent of Indiana households, (137,524) are male/female unmarried partner households.

Indianapolis-Marion County has a slightly higher percentage of same sex unmarried partner households as 0.7 percent of Indy households (2,412) are in that category.

Another 23,102 of the city-county’s households (6.4 percent) are opposite sex unmarried partner households.

Unmarried partner households are 6.0 percent of all households nationally and in Indiana and 7.0 percent of Indy’s households.

Census data on unmarried partner households aren’t broken down by race-ethnicity. But I suspect there’s a far higher percentage of opposite sex unmarried partner households than same sex ones in African-American communities.

The perception is that gay couples make up a large segment of these unmarried partner households. But, male-female unmarried households comprise 90.8 percent of American; 91.9 percent of Indiana and 90.5 percent of Indianapolis unmarried partner households.

That’s why the infamous second sentence of HJR-3 had to be removed. Though HJR-3 supporters thought it would curb same sex households, the restrictions, including on domestic partner benefits by companies and institutions, would’ve impacted far, far more opposite sex couples than same sex ones.

The marriage battle in the Legislature is over for this year. If, and when, it returns, let’s not forget that centuries ago marriage was a universal institution. Today, it’s embraced by less than half the population.

Maybe the battle should be in increasing marriage overall, than in fighting over who the civil government should or shouldn’t recognize as married.

What I’m hearing

in the streets

Charles Parkins, who has headed the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center since last May, finally talked to our Black community.

Appearing on our WTLC-AM (1310) program, Parkins tried to portray himself as an enlightened juvenile jailer with more compassionate views on dealing with incarcerated juveniles awaiting trial.

Some Juvenile Center volunteers called in complaining of a lack of information and response from the center since Parkins took over. Parkins admitted he’d done no outreach to volunteers to introduce himself and assured that the center’s positive outreach programs and volunteers would continue.

In response to a direct question on whether the Juvenile Center’s lost top Black managers, Parkins at first hedged. After I pressed, Parkins admitted there was now just one Black out of the four top Juvenile Center managers. Parkins later in the interview admitted there “used to be two more.”

Meaning of three Black top administrators, the center’s down to one.

Parkins’ 10-month tenure was plenty of time for him to reach out to our Black community, shore up volunteer morale and explain his policies.

The fact he’s playing catch up now, after reported incidents at the Juvenile Center, doesn’t give me comfort about my initial concerns that Charles Parkins doesn’t have sufficient experience dealing with minority youth from a major urban area for him to be successful in Indy.

See ’ya next week!

You can email comments to Amos Brown at acbrown@aol.com.

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