In April of 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage would henceforth be legal in the state of Iowa. Since then, gay and lesbian people in Iowa have had the same right to marry as their straight peers.
Straight through this year’s arguments in court regarding California’s Proposition 8, opponents of same-sex marriage have continued to assert that the legalization of same-sex marriage will devastate heterosexual marriages by “deinstitutionalizing” heterosexual marriage. The prediction of self-professed expert David Blankenhorn and others is that where same-sex marriages are legalized, divorces will rise as people throw up their hands, decide marriage doesn’t mean anything anymore, and leave their former spouses twisting in the wind.
But a funny thing’s happened since the Iowa Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in April 2009. The CDC has released divorce statistics for the state of Iowa through November 2009. From May 2009 (the month after legalization) through November 2009 (the latest month for which divorce stats are available), there were 4322 divorces in Iowa. During the same May-November period in 2008, there were 4574 divorces in the state.
That’s a drop in the number of Iowa divorces since the legalization of same-sex marriage there. That’s the opposite of what the anti-gay forces said would happen. Reality simply isn’t matching the rhetoric.