Gay marriage not harmful to straight marriage, study concludes

A research team from Portland State University analyzed marriage data spanning two decades to find evidence that gay marriage hurts straight marriage 

Gay marriage not harmful to straight marriage, study concludes
16 June 2013

A look at marriage data in the US from the 1980s revealed that gay marriage has no impact on opposite-sex marriage rates.

Co-written by Alexis Dinno and Chelsea Whitney from the School of Community Health at Portland State University, the study titled Same Sex Marriage and the Perceived Assault on Opposite Sex Marriage drew on the arguments made by opponents of same-sex marriage who ‘have positioned [gay marriage] as an “assault” seeking to “weaken,” “destroy” and “undermine” opposite sex marriage’. 

Such declarations frequently come from conservative, religious groups in the US who argue they seek to protect the history and sanctity of marriage.

As recently as this week, Former US presidential nominee Mike Huckabee said marriage will be ‘twisted into perversion’ and ‘formed into an unholy pretzel’ should same-sex marriage be legal. 

The authors of the study wrote: ‘We found that state rates of opposite sex marriage in the U.S. from 1989–2009 do not significantly differ when same sex marriage and union laws are in force compared to when they are not in force, contrary both to concerns raised by opponents of same sex marriage and same sex civil unions.’

The team also referenced the Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and the Netherlands, where similar studies found no changes to divorce rates or rates of opposite-sex marriage after the countries allowed same-sex couples to marry.

In their discussion of the statistics and methods of analyzing the data, the team looked to different arguments as to why same-sex marriage would actually improve the institution, like by decreasing divorce rates, for example.

‘Because by legitimizing same sex relationships, same sex marriage laws could help reduce the number of homosexuals living closeted lives and entering into unhappy opposite sex marriages, such laws might both contribute to decreased numbers of new opposite sex marriages, but also reduce the number of opposite sex marriages likely to end in divorce because the marriage was undertaken to keep up heterosexual appearance by a homosexual participant.’

The study’s authors also cited examples where withholding gay marriage has resulted in a backlash from heterosexual people as well.

The researchers, who recognized the value of studying the institution of marriage by calling it ‘a fundamental determinant of health,’ pointed out that in some cases, as with the National Marriage Boycott, individuals, organizations and even churches have boycotted marriage until full marriage equality is reached.

Though the pair recognized that data on same-sex unions is lacking in comparison to opposite-sex marriages, they encourage further investigation ‘because the history of same sex marital rights is young in the U.S.’

Though same-sex marriage is not yet legal nationwide in the US, 14 states have legalized gay marriage, same-sex partners of troops are eligible for limited benefits, and results from a poll released earlier this year find that 53% of Americans are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.




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