Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Marriage ins and outs

Barely half of American adults are legally married, and those who do get married are waiting longer, according to a new study from Pew Research. And you know why fewer people are marrying, don’t you? It’s all the fault of Teh Gays™!

In a recent Tweet (pictured; the article he linked to is here), ex-Republican US Senator and current crackpot presidential candidate Rick Santorum said that this was “1 effect of changing definition of marriage”. Uh huh. While Santorum has never displayed even a passing familiarity with logic, this one is pretty bizarre, even for him. The people who are working and fighting so hard for the right to be legally married are responsible for the decline in marriage rates generally. Riiiiiiight…

The people who actually value facts, reason and logic, Pew Research, have said that there’s too little evidence to say what, specifically, is going on or “whether today’s young adults are abandoning marriage or merely delaying it.” They also note that fully 72% of Americans have been married at least once, and that a clear majority of never-married people—61%—would like to marry one day.

In other countries, marriage isn’t necessarily important. In New Zealand, for example, any couple—same sex or opposite sex—that has lived together for three years is automatically covered by the Relationships (Property) Act, which governs how property is divided in the event a relationship ends. Such couples—called de facto in New Zealand—have many of the other rights and privileges of registered couples, though only marriage and civil unions gives full family status to partners.

But even in the US, a couple being married is no longer a social requirement and more people are choosing to live alone or as an unmarried couple, and those who do marry wait longer to do so. Isn’t freedom of choice something conservatives ought to be cheering? They would be if they weren’t so hellbent on forcing their religious beliefs onto everyone else.

What this and other research clearly shows is that marriage still has value to people. What’s changing is not the “definition” as Ricky and his cronies think—it’s still legally defined as the union of two consenting adults—but the way people approach it, when they become married and what they expect from it. Normal people, in other words, have a far more mature and rational view of marriage than does Rick Santorum.

Actually, come to think of it, normal people have a far more mature and rational view of everything than does Rick Santorum. We don’t need any research to underscore that point.

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