|RENE JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR|
They came to City Hall from Oklahoma, Hawaii, Labrador, northern Alberta and West Virginia. Some walked a short distance from downtown condos.
Two came from Cambridge Bay in the distant Arctic one February day when it was –41 with the wind chill back home. Two more came from Alliance, Nebraska, a tiny place where the nearest city is Cheyenne, Wyoming, three hours away. 580 came from the neighbourhood around Church and Wellesley.
They walked into the rotunda, filled out the paperwork and were handed an Ontario marriage licence.
When two men from South Riverdale married on June 10, 2003, it had only become possible that morning. For 344 Texans - 133 lesbians and 198 gay men - issued marriage licences in Toronto from 2003 to the present, it won't be possible any time soon.
Ontario doesn't distinguish between same-sex and opposite sex couples in its marriage statistics, but the City of Toronto does. Date, sex and partial postal code data for same-sex couples married in Toronto were released to the Star recently under access-to-information laws, opening the door to a large amount of new information about the over 5,500 gay and lesbian couples married here since June, 2003. Once again, thanks to the Star's Andy Bailey for helping to make sense of the data.
The data sheds light on the different neighbourhood patterns of Toronto's married lesbians and gay men, and also where people who came to the city to be married from across Canada and the United States came from.
From June 10, 2003 to May 5, 2009, the final date covered in the data the City sent us, 5,564 same-sex couples were issued marriage licences in Toronto. 2,326 marriages were of lesbians, and 3,238 of gay men.
Often, the members of the couple had different addresses, so the maps track individuals. It's a bit disorienting to track couples by the individuals in them, but we couldn't come up with an alternative.
5,435 individuals came from Toronto, 899 from Canada outside the city, and 4,651 from the United States. The remainder could not be identified by a Canadian postal code or U.S. zip code, though a handful were obviously British.
Married lesbians are most common in M4Y, Church and Wellesley's postal code, and in the east end – Riverdale, South Riverdale, Leslieville, the east Danforth and the Beaches. Rates are also high in the U of T area, Cabbagetown and Roncesvalles.
Married gay men are most common in M4Y, and in the neighbourhoods to the south. Rates are also high in the east downtown generally, the U of T and the neighbourhood to its west, South Riverdale and Rosedale.
Looking at the top U.S. cities represented, based on the first three digits of the zip code, gay men were weighted more to the South and California, while lesbians came more from communities in New York State and the Midwest.
The men's top 10 list includes Washington, Fort Lauderdale, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Atlanta and Miami, while the women's top 10 list includes Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Madison, mid-Long Island, Rochester, Columbus and Detroit. New York, Chicago and Minneapolis are on both lists.
Population density data shows that U.S. lesbians married here came from more rural communities, and gay men from more urban ones.
Perhaps not surprisingly, most gay and lesbian Massachusetts residents married here did so before a court ruling in October, 2003 brought in same-sex marriage in that state. Only three people from Vermont, where same-sex couples have had legal recognition since 2000, were married here in the entire period, and one of them married a Toronto resident.
This chart shows monthly totals of Toronto residents married in same-sex couples since June 2003. May of 2009 is incomplete. We see a dramatic spike in June of 2003, then annual spikes after that in June. There is also a spike in January of 2006, which I can't account for: (update: see reader comment below)
Here is the same chart for gay and lesbian U.S. residents married here. In their case, the 2003 peak came more in July and (more so) August. The number of American same-sex couples married here has been gently declining, presumably because of the increasingly liberal climate on the issue of same-sex marriage in several U.S. states. There does seem to be a drop-off after Massachusetts allowed out-of-state same-sex couples to marry there in mid-2008.
The great majority of Canadian gay men and lesbians from outside Toronto married here were from the 905 and elsewhere in Ontario. Two couples came from Nunavut. Here is the breakdown, based on the first character of the postal code: