Gays on Stamps

Social change happens all the time and in no area of American life has change been greater than in the status of gays and lesbians. Only thirty years ago the idea of gay marriage was considered so ridiculous that pollsters didn’t even ask the question. Today, New York has been added to the list of jurisdictions that permit gay marriage. Gallup tells us that a majority of Americans approve of gay marriage and as the polling breaks down significantly by age (with younger people approving by a wide margin) it is only a matter of time until gay marriage is allowed de jure in most states and de facto in all states. Gays have been well represented on US Postage stamps. If you eliminate politicians (who make up a disproportionate number of commemoratives and definitives) my count is that between 1980 and 2010 the United States issued about 500 stamps commemorating non political men and women. About 30 were for gays and lesbians which is 6% of the issued stamps (and since many of these people lived years ago, when no doubt many were closeted, this number underestimates the number of homosexuals commemorated on US stamps). As homosexuality is usually estimated at 2%-4% of the population it seems that our Post Office at least has been in the forefront over the last thirty years in recognizing the mainstrean non political achievements of gay people.

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