Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Liberals Protect Marriage By Example, Not Rhetoric

Since Republicans in D.C. have decided to go on a multi-day gay bash, I thought that I would repost a link to a Boston Globe story from 2004 that seems very relevant.

Most of the advocates of anti-gay amendments claim to be great defenders of marriage. They usually blame liberals for the current state of the institution. So how funny is it that "liberal Massachusetts" consistently ranks as the state with the least amount of divorce in the country? Yes, the only state in the nation to offer total equality to gay and lesbian couples has the lowest divorce rate! This from the Boston Globe story:

The state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation is Massachusetts. At latest count it had a divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 population, while the rate for Texas was 4.1.

But don't take the US government's word for it. Take a look at the findings from the George Barna Research Group. George Barna, a born-again Christian whose company is in Ventura, Calif., found that Massachusetts does indeed have the lowest divorce rate among all 50 states. More disturbing was the finding that born-again Christians have among the highest divorce rates.

The Associated Press, using data supplied by the US Census Bureau, found that the highest divorce rates are to be found in the Bible Belt. The AP report stated that "the divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average of 4.2 per thousand people." The 10 Southern states with some of the highest divorce rates were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. By comparison nine states in the Northeast were among those with the lowest divorce rates: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Massachusetts AND Vermont have some of the lowest divorce rates? My goodness! The two states that allow the most benefits to gay couples. All of this while many of the Bible Belt states are neck deep in divorce!

The story gives several possible reasons for this strange phenomenon. Some of the contributing factors that they cite are as follows:

  • More couples in the South enter their first marriage at a younger age.

  • Average household incomes are lower in the South.

  • Southern states have a lower percentage of Roman Catholics, "a denomination that does not recognize divorce." Barna's study showed that 21 percent of Catholics had been divorced, compared with 29 percent of Baptists.

  • Education. Massachusetts has about the highest rate of education in the country, with 85 percent completing high school. For Texas the rate is 76 percent. One third of Massachusetts residents have completed college, compared with 23 percent of Texans, and the other Northeast states are right behind Massachusetts.

It appears that threats to marriage are manifold, but clearly none of them have anything to do with same sex relationships. Perhaps the next time we talk about defending marriage we should address divorce, education, and poverty.

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