Census bureau releases new same-sex couple stats and straight marriage, divorce stats

The Census Bureau released a massive new report with new statistics about same-sex couples and heterosexual marriage and divorce. The report includes hundreds of charts of raw data with no analysis. Here’s some analysis:

The bureau reports 6,502,121 “unmarried-partner households.” Of those, 280,410 are “male householder, male partner” and 300,890 are “female householder, female partner.”

That terminology is confusing because those numbers include all those same-sex households of people who actually live in places like Massachusetts and are legally married. But the census bureau was prevented from actually asking that question directly and is projecting the numbers from the way people answered.

Analysis: The census severely under-counted same-sex households. And total number of gays and lesbians? They didn’t even try.

More analysis: The divorce figures disprove that allowing same-sex couples to marry will destroy marriage. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate at 2.2 per 1,000 population. Second is Iowa with 2.4.

The Texas divorce rate declined from 5.5 per 1,000 population in 1990 to 4.0 in 2000 to 3.3 in 2009. That compares to a national figure of 3.4.

The states with the highest divorce rates were Nevada 6.7, which was a decline from 11.4 in 1990, Arkansas at 5.7 and West Virginia and Wyoming at 5.2.

The decline in the Texas divorce rate, however, may be linked to the decline in marriage in Texas. Despite having about 10 million more people living in the state since the 1980s, the number of total annual marriages in 2009 only rose by about 1,000.

Analysis: Lots more gays and lesbians have come out over the past 20 years. Don’t know why the straight people who are left are less likely to marry. Marriage equality opponents may pick up on the stat to “prove” that marriage equality is destroying “traditional” marriage.

One marriage statistic is confusing and unexplained —”People who got married, and divorced in the past 12 months by state, 2009.”

In Massachusetts, 41,000 men married and 40,000 women married, while 20,000 men divorced and 20,000 women divorced. The difference in the marriage stat can be accounted for with same-sex marriages. The divorce stat indicates that it’s straight people getting divorced, not gays and lesbians.

However, in Texas that year, 202,000 men married and 195,000 women married.

Analysis: That number either includes 7,000 same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries that have marriage equality, which the census bureau claimed they weren’t counting in marriage stats, or 7,000 Texas women didn’t know they got married or 7,000 men think they did.

—  David Taffet

Southern Baptist leader says divorce rates, not gay marriage, should be primary concern

Albert Mohler

R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Last week Mohler wrote on his website, “When the Christian right was organized in the 1970s and galvanized in the 1980s, the issues of abortion and homosexuality were front and center. Where was divorce?”

He calls divorce a “tragedy that affects far more families than the more ‘hot button’ issues” such as same-sex marriage. While LGBT groups have been wondering for years how marriage equality affects anyone else at all, it is amazing for someone who is so prominent in the religious right to admit that anything else might be more important. For the first time, there is an admission that maybe they should be watching what they do before criticizing everyone else.

Mohler even admitted that evangelical Christians divorce at a higher rate than the rest of the general population. However, he didn’t go so far as to admit that the lowest divorce rate is among gays and lesbians who have married.

In fact, the lowest divorce rate is in Massachusetts. Other states with low divorce rates are Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New York — the states that allow same-sex marriage or recognize marriages performed elsewhere.

The states with the highest divorce rates are all red. Nevada, famous for honoring the sanctity of marriage with its drive-thru wedding chapels, also tops the list for drive-thru divorces. The rest of the states topping the divorce list are all in the Bible Belt.

Texas tops the list of states with the highest number of residents who’ve been married three or more times.

Mohler said, “Our credibility on the issue of marriage is significantly discounted by our acceptance of divorce. To our shame, the culture war is not the only place that an honest confrontation with the divorce culture is missing.”

I doubt anything will happen as a result of Mohler’s self-reflective column, though. It’s so much easier to bully others.

—  David Taffet