Thursday, July 13, 2006

Latest divorce data undermines claim that gay marriage hurts families

By Diane Silver

Hat tip to Bruce Wilson at Talk To Action for pointing out that Massachusetts -- the only state with legalized same-sex marriage -- is also the state with the lowest heterosexual divorce rate in the nation.

Even more interesting is the data showing that many states hostile to same-sex marriage have high, or even the highest, divorce rates for heterosexuals. Wilson writes:
The preliminary data from 2004 and the first 11 months of 2005 -- from the 17 US states which have provided data on divorce for 2004 and 2005 and whose voters also passed state constitutional amendents prohibiting same sex marriage -- presents a striking picture : the group of US states arguably most hostile to divorce, those which have passed both state laws and also state constitutional amendments prohibiting same sex marriage, lag dramatically in terms of divorce rate improvement when compared to same sex marriage friendly states.
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Among those US states that are most opposed to same sex marriage which have also provided divorce data for the time period -- ( alaska ? ) AR, KS, KY, MI, MS, MO, NE, NV, ND, OH, OK, OR, UT, TX -- the average divorce rate ( unadjusted for population changes ) for 2004 and the first 11 months of 2005 increased 1.75%. This group contains 4 of the 5 states with the highest divorce rate increases in the US during 2004 and the first 11 months of 2005.
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If leaders of the religious right are correct that there is a connection between same sex marriage and the health of the institution of marriage, then they will certainly want to become advocates of marriage equality. The continued lead of Massachusetts as the lowest divorce rate leader in the US would indicate that same sex marriage helps to preserve rather than destroy traditional heterosexual marriages.

Wilson's article has charts, data and the usual gay-bashing quotes from the religious right. My favorite piece is the bit from the Daily Show putting an opponent of gay marriage in the hot seat.

If I were truly snarky, I'd argue that the best way to save the institution of marriage is to legalize it for same-sex couples, but I won't go there.

More seriously, I wonder if the hysteria over same-sex marriage doesn't come, in part, from people who are foundering in their own marriages and desperate for a solution. This must be particularly difficult when folks are told all their lives that there can only be one model for a family.

A wife may be trapped in a loveless marriage or an abusive relationship. Perhaps the father-rules-all model of a family is destroying her, and she feels like the only way to be an obedient wife is to ignore her own needs. Perhaps a husband is facing the normal psychological conflicts that occur in any relationship, but his church says there is only one solution and, so far, that solution hasn't worked.

If good people feel their own lives are crumbling, or if they are surrounded by the debris of their friend's marriages, then they may search for scapegoats out of desperation. Lesbians and gays are easy targets. Stereotypes and misinformation about our lives continue to overwhelm reality.

The sad truth is that until heterosexuals stop focusing on lesbians and gays and start looking at their own relationships, they will never solve the problems within their own families.

The more energy heterosexuals put into attacking their neighbors, the more they will neglect their own problems, and the more their own families will suffer. It is a self-fulfilling, downward spiral for the heterosexual family.

If you are a gay-marriage opponent and reading this post, may I give you some advice?

The only way to solve your problems is to deal with them directly.

Working to destroy me won't help you.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Nice try to link these data together. However, you'll have to provide some evidence that gay marriages will not face the same fate (at least statistically speaking) as heterosexual marriages. Indeed this will be difficult to do, but rightfully so as gay marriage referendums have failed over and over in the US.

Furthermore, if you wish to single out religious opponents to gay marriage and criticize their divorce rate, I would suggest using a more accurate metric: divorce rate among Christians. I think you will find this to be significantly lower than the national average.