The Science Duck says ‘allowing gay marriage appears to reduce the divorce rate.’

Posted on 06 Aug 2010 at 2:45am

The Science Duck makes an interesting discovery:

Traditional marriage ‘defenders’ are in a tizzy after a federal judge overturned Proposition 8. Newt Gingrich issued a statement explaining how this ‘notorious’ ruling shows ‘disrespect’ for the Constitution and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. He should know about marriage sanctity; Newt’s been married no less than three times, with a few extramarital affairs to boot. Divorce is a hot topic for conservatives worried about preserving the institution of marriage, so there is a silver lining in Proposition 8 for them: allowing gay marriage appears to reduce the divorce rate. Here’s a case study from the country with the longest history of allowing same-sex marriage: The Netherlands.

Check out the Duck’s chart.

Nate Silver made some similar findings last fall (Check out his chart, too):

As is somewhat visually apparent, those states which have tended to take more liberal policies toward gay marriage have tended also to have larger declines in their divorce rates. In Massachusetts, which legalized gay marriage in 2004, the divorce rate has declined by 21 percent and is the lowest in the country by some margin. It is joined at the top of the list by Rhode Island and New Mexico, which do not perform same-sex marriages but idiosyncratically also have no statute or constitutional provision expressly forbidding them, as well as Maine, whose legislature approved same-sex marriage only to have it overturned (although not banned constitutionally) by its voters.

On the other hand, the seven states at the bottom of the chart all had constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriage in place throughout 2008. The state which experienced the highest increase in its divorce rate over the period (Alaska, at 17.2 percent) also happens to be the first one to have altered its constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, in 1998.




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