MA Gay Marriage Brings Perilous Drop in Divorce, STD, Teen Pregnancy Rates?
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun May 18, 2008 at 03:55:16 PM EST
Back in 2006, on July 13, I covered the outcome of approaching two years of legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts: "Major leaders of the American religious right made predictions that same sex marriage would cause the decline or destruction of the traditional family and the institution of marriage. Some warned of the destruction of Western Civilization or of a sinister conspiracy against Christianity. Some warned of the impending end of the world." Almost four years after the alleged civilization-destroying event, MA is second in the US with the lowest rate of divorce, slightly behind Pennsylvania (the MA rate is 2.27 per 1,000, the PA rate is 2.2 per 1,000) and MA rates of teen pregnancy, already close to the lowest in the US, continue to drop, down over 2% in 2006. By contrast, gay marriage-unfriendly, abstinence-only sex-ed reliant Texas now leads the nation in both teen pregnancy and repeat teen pregnancy, and Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia in Texas have continued a multi-year rise according to official TX 2007 statistics.
The Daily Show summed it up brilliantly: "It's like a rolling ball of snow. It gets bigger and bigger. You allow it in Massachusetts, it'll spread to God knows where." - Massachusetts Democratic State Representative Emile J. Goguen, as quoted by the "Traditional Values Coalition" website

"We can look at those places where same-sex marriage has been legalized to see what the future looks like" - Ron Crews, President of The Massachusetts Family Institute, as quoted in the Washington Times, March 10, 2004

Since 2004, Massachusetts has also clearly outperformed Texas in terms of rates of two major STD's (all data from US CDC).

Syphilis

According to United States Center For Disease Control data, in 2004 Massachusetts ranked 21st in the US in terms of its Syphilis rate, 1.8 per 100,000. By 2006, following the legalized gar marriage "catastrophe", MA Syphilis rates rose very slightly, to 1.9 per 100,000 but Massachusetts outperformed in relative terms, many other US states in which Syphilis rates rose faster and so the MA state ranking, for Syphilis rates, dropped to 24th place (with 1st being the state with the highest Syphilis rate). By contrast, in 2004 Texas had a Syphilis rate of 3.7 per 100,000, establishing Texas as the US state with the 8th highest Syphilis rate. Two years later, apparently lacking the civilization-destroying benefit of gay marriage, the Texas Syphilis rate had climbed to 4.7 per 100,000, bumping TX to the #7 spot.

Gonorrhea

In 2004, the Texas Gonorrhea rate was 110.6/100K, putting the Lone Star State in 18th place in the national Syphilis sweepstakes. In the same year, Massachusetts had a 47.5/100K Gonorrhea rate, putting the Bay State in 38th place. Two years later, the purported corrosive effects of gay marriage had undermined any chances whatsoever that Massachusetts might catch up with Texas Gonorrhea rates any time soon; in 2006, the MA Gonorrhea rate had declined to 38.0/100K, putting MA in 42nd place and within conceivable striking range soon of gaining the "lowest Gonorrhea rate state" spot. Meanwhile, Texas moved one spot up the scale towards "highest Gonorrhea rate state", to 17th place as its Gonorrhea rate climber to 133.2 per 100,000.

Note: It is unikely there's there's any direct causation between gay marriage and lower rates of divorce, teen pregnancy or STD's. But there may be a correlation between societal acceptance of lifestyle diversity and lower teen pregnancy and STD's - states more tolerant of lifestyle diversity tend to be more supportive of fact-based (science based, that is) sex ed rather than "faith based" sex ed. Along that line of thinking, on the societal benefits of gay-friendly attitudes, Richard Florida has done substantial research suggesting that gay-friendly areas prosper more economically as compared to gay-hostile regions. This isn't because gays are somehow magical - it's because societal acceptance of gayness turns out to be a great proxy for acceptance of all sorts of diversity, and acceptance of diversity confers economic benefits.
In my July 13, 2006 Christian Right Wrong On Gay Marriage in Massachusetts I noted the sorts of dire sounding warnings leaders of the Christian right, and conservative politicians had made about the alleged impact gay marriage would have on Massachusetts and the nation. Focus on The Family head James Dobson's prediction was typical:

"Dear Friends, I write to you today with a profound sense of concern...Barring a miracle, the family as it has been known for more than five millennia will crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself.....

For more than 40 years, the homosexual activist movement has sought to implement a master plan that has had as its centerpiece the utter destruction of the family." - Dr. James Dobson of Focus on The Family, in a July 2004 letter to supporters

As I wrote,

"These were certainly alarming assertions coming from such prominent leaders. But was there any truth to them? The claims were impossible to prove or disprove because there was no data.

James Dobson's hoped for divine intervention against same sex marriage never arrived, and so since May 20, 2004 -- when same sex couples began to marry in Massachusetts -- nearly two years of data have accumulated and we can begin to answer the question: How has the institution of marriage in the Commonwealth fared ?

The answer to this question was prefigured in a November 2005 television interview, by "The Daily Show", of Brian Camenker, founder of the "Article 8 Alliance" - a Massachusetts activist group opposed to same sex marriage:

[ source: "Has Gay Marriage Ruined Massachusetts ?", courtesy of Crooks And Liars. ]

"Camenker: The gay marriage issue is destructive on many levels....

Interviewer: So the quality of life has decreased ?

Camenker: Yeah

Interviewer: Homelessness gone up ?

Camenker: I can't....you know.....

Interviewer: Crime rates ?

Camenker: Crime rates ?.......

Interviewer: Air quality ?

Camenker: I mean, let me put it this way. I could....I could sit here and I could probably, you know, find some way of connecting the dots to gay marriage to all of these if I had enough time and I did some research."

Indeed, the dots have been lining up - but not in favor of Mr. Camenker's beliefs.

Over two years have passed now since same sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, and emergent trends in Massachusetts amount to a stark indictment of those dire claims about sex marriage cited earlier in this article."

My July 2006 story pushed the evidentiary envelope--some of the evidence was preliminary--but in the intervening period the portrait I sketched out, in which gay-marriage friendly states have, in terms of social indices on divorce rates, STD rates and teen pregnancy rates, tended on the balance to do at least as well, if not outperform gay-marriage hostile states in reducing the incidence of divorce, STD's and teen pregnancy.

That leads into a wider issue:

John McCain's controversial political endorser, San Antonio megachurch preacher Pastor John Hagee, routinely inveighs against what Hagee claims is the moral slide of America into immorality and what Hagee calls a "secular humanist sewer". But actually, much of the available data contradicts Hagee's claim - by many measures of societal pathology, America has over the last decade and a half, since the early 1990's when Bill Clinton came into office, been doing steadily better.

In terms of traditional measures of morality, The United States has done markedly better since the early 1990's, and by one much ballyhooed measuresof "morality", the national divorce rate, American public morality has been improving since the early 1980's. But we'd never know were we to listen to the following public voices:

"marriage bears a real relation to the well-being, health and enduring strength of society" - Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, in a February 5, 2004 Wall Street Journal opinion article"

"This is an important victory for those of us who wanted to preserve traditional marriage and to make sure that the mistake of Massachusetts doesn't become the mistake of the entire country" - Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, commenting on a March 30, 2006 Massachusetts Supreme Court Ruling barring out of state same sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts.

"This is only the beginning, if we allow this [ same sex marriage ] to happen we will, in effect, have destabilized the basic institution of our society, which is marriage between a man and a woman" - Brian Camenker, President of the Parents' Rights Coalition, as quoted by MassNews, March 2000

"Taxpayers and businesses should not be compelled to subsidize either homosexual unions or non-marital heterosexual partnerships, both of which undermine the institutions of marriage and family." - Acting President of the Massachusetts Family Institute, Dan Englund, as quoted by MassNews, March 2000

"There is a master plan out there from those who want to destroy the institution of marriage." - Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) during the July 2004 U.S. Senate debate on the "Federal Marriage Amendment".

"the sexual revolution led to the decoupling of marriage and procreation; same-sex "marriage" would pull them completely apart, leading to an explosive increase in family collapse...." - Charles Colson, Christianity Today, June 2004

"We must aggressively combat the homosexual effort to destroy the tradition of marriage. This nation is on the precipice of moral devastation." - Jerry Falwell, July 14, 2003

"Pro-homosexuality activists try to portray the success of their cause as inevitable. But it is not. The churches can stand against the tide of relativism and libertinism in our culture. And they can help to reverse the tide, restoring marriage to its proper place of honor" - Former President of The Institute on Religion and Democracy, Dianne Knippers, as quoted on the website of Concerned Women For America

"....a person can use his or her right to object out of conscience and refuse to comply with this crime [ gay marriage ] which represents the destruction of the world." - Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, in a May 3, 2005 interview with Fides new service.

"Homosexual conduct is, and has been, considered abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature's God upon which this Nation and our laws are predicated. Such conduct violates both the criminal and civil laws of this State and is destructive to a basic building block of society -- the family." - Judge Roy Moore, Feb. 15, 2002

"Marriage is the union between a man and a woman is a truth known to each one of us already, and any attempt to allow same-sex marriages is a detriment to the family unit and hurts our state and nation." - Texas Governor Rick Perry, in an August 2005 mass email to supporters

"Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It [ same-sex marriage ] will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth." - James Dobson, Focus on the Family, October 2004 speaking at a rally for OK GOP Senate candidate Tom Coburn

"It seems the more people consider the long-term impact of homosexual marriage on the family and society, the more they oppose homosexual marriage," - Dr. Ron Crews, President of The Massachusetts Family Institute, quoted in a January 7, 2004 "Coalition For Marriage" press release

"Any redefinition of marriage must be seen as an attack on the common good....I would hope that those who promote same-sex unions will not be so naive as to fail to recognize the impact that redefining marriage will have on American culture....Strengthening marriage in the face of widespread cohabitation and the galloping divorce rate needs to be the concern of every citizen. Radically redefining marriage will simply serve to intensify the assault on marriage and the American family." - Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, October 2, 2003

''America cannot continue to lead the family of nations around the world if we suffer the collapse of the family here at home" - Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, in a February 25, 2005 speech to Utah Republicans. In the speech, Romney described the decision that legalized same sex marriage in Massachusetts as "a blow to the family"

"just a fraction of a master plan to destroy everything that is good and moral here in America." - description of the gay rights movement, from an early 1980's fundraising letter sent by Robert C. Grant of the group "Christian Voice"

"They spread from Eastern Europe like an irresistible tide, flooding the towns and nations of Europe - in fact, the entire world." - Nazi propaganda film, "The Eternal Jew"







map key: red=higher rates, green=lower rates

Teen Births, 15-19, 2003

Infant Mortality, 2004

Overall State Health Ranking, 2004




Display:
Look at the comparison between those who would be considered fundamentalist/dominionist/"Christian conservative" (and their divorce rate) to those who would be more likely to call themselves progressive.

I don't remember the actual numbers, but they REALLY told a story!!!

by ArchaeoBob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 04:03:18 PM EST

It sure does tell a story.

by Bruce Wilson on Sun May 18, 2008 at 04:18:28 PM EST
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