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Same Sex Marriage States Have Had Fewer Divorces

Lately, we’ve gotten a bit of attention here at Irregular Times for some of the analysis we did earlier this year, using various state statistics of well-being and the American Religious Identification Survey, to show that the claims of Prosperity Gospel preachers are not supported by the facts, that states in which rates of Christianity are high appear to be prospering less than than states where rates of Christianity are lower. In response to those articles, and the current trend of legalization of same-sex marriage, some readers have asked for articles exploring the association between religious identification and divorce rates.

That article is coming soon, but while I’m preparing that analysis, I thought I’d offer the following quick fact about divorce rates and same-sex marriage: The five states that have legalized same-sex marriage have had lower rates of divorce.

The five states that have legalized same sex marriage are: Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine. They have an average divorce rate that is almost 20 percent lower than the average for the rest of the states for which the latest divorce statistics are available.

The average annual divorce rate for the five same-sex marriage states is 3 per 1,000 inhabitants. The average annual divorce rate for the other states for which statistics are available is 3.954 per 1,000 inhabitants. (Source: Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC) *

* I have to acknowledge that the statistics are not as up-to-date and complete as I would like. First of all, the latest divorce rate statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control are from 2004. Second, statistics from several states are not available from that year: California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, and Louisiana. Still, the difference in divorce rates, given the information available, strongly contradicts the claims made by right wing activists that legalization of same-sex marriage weakens marriage in general. The available statistics suggest that legalization of same-sex marriage is actually associated with communities where marriage is strong. When new, more complete divorce statistics are available, I’ll offer an updated analysis comparing the patterns in those statistics with the information currently available.

3 comments to Same Sex Marriage States Have Had Fewer Divorces

  • Tom

    Oh come on, states only recently adopted the same sex policy so surely you aren’t suggesting that it has any effect on marriage in general. Why don’t we wait ten years or so and check back then?

  • Tom, the reason we shouldn’t wait 10 years is that the assertion that same sex marriage destroys heterosexual marriage is implausible to start with, and in the 10 year interim large numbers of couples will be deprived of equal rights.

    I never mentioned EFFECT, Tom. Read carefully. What these numbers do suggest, however, is that those states that are reacting negatively to the idea of same sex marriage are those very states that already have the worst state of marriage, and they seem to have a pretty bad idea about how to manage society so as to support marriage.

  • lll

    i need real statistics

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