Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gay marriage hurts families? There's no evidence : Speak Your Piece : Redding Record Searchlight

Gay marriage hurts families? There's no evidence : Speak Your Piece : Redding Record Searchlight

Donald Yost
Sunday, September 21, 2008

James Wilson, in his Monday piece stating his opposition to legalized same-sex marriage, comments, "None of this is opinion; let readers fire up search engines and see for themselves." So, I researched the Internet for confirmation or denial of his statements. Wilson wrote, "Repeated studies show that heterosexual marriage becomes less frequent and shorter lived in the wake of legalized marriage." An Internet search reveals how inaccurate the predicted "death" of heterosexual marriages by Focus on the Family board Chairman James Dobson really is. Conservative writer Stanley Kurtz incorrectly asserted that gay marriage helped to kill heterosexual marriage in Scandinavia.

According to a May 20, 2004, article on by M.V. Badgett, associate professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst: "In Denmark, for example, the marriage rate had been declining for a half century, but turned around in the early 1980s. After the 1989 passage of the registered-partner law (No Scandinavian country has legalized same sex marriage in place, yet. Legalization will begin in Norway on January 1, 2009) the marriage rate continued to climb; Danish heterosexual marriage rates are the highest they've been since the early 1970s. And the most recent marriage rates in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland are all higher than the rates for the years before partner laws were passed.

"Furthermore, in the 1990s, divorce rates in Scandinavia remained basically unchanged."

What about conditions in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been legal since May 17, 2004? The commonwealth has had the lowest divorce rate of any state in the union: Compare 2.2 for every 1,000 residents each year in Massachusetts, 3.8 for the national average. The divorce rate in Massachusetts declined in the first two years of legalized same-sex marriage. (Divorce Rates by State, 1990-2005 —

Wilson asserted that same-sex marriage causes more children to be raised out of wedlock. Badgett states: "[T]he nine countries with partnership laws had higher rates of unmarried cohabitation than other European and North American countries before passage of the partner-registration laws. … The fact that rates of cohabitation and non-marital births (in Scandinavia) either slowed down or completely stopped rising after the passage of partnership laws shows that the laws had no effect on heterosexual behavior."

Wilson writes that Thomas Elias displays prejudice "of the most incredible and unreasoning type" because of his position that "legalized gay marriage detracts from the rights of traditionally married couples or that any harm comes from the practice." I have not been convinced by Wilson. There is no documentation of his statements that start, "Repeated studies show." Proposition 8 is a vindictive effort to take rights away from a minority group. A no vote on proposition 8 will ensure that that minority will be able to retain those rights.

Donald Yost is a volunteer field leader of Equality California and a member of Shasta County PFLAG (Parents Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

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