If marriage is so, so, so important to Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown, they need to do one of two things: quit their obsession with same-sex unions and start focusing on the divorce rate in “conservative” states or they could start promoting same-sex marriage in those states. Because, marriage is much more of a stable institution in the states that allow same-sex couples to legalize their relationships.
Here’s the really surprising part: It’s the Bible Belt, the swathe of religious ultra-conservatives that swings from West Virginia down through Dixie that has by far the highest proportion of divorce rates among the general popluation.
Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, for years has had the lowest number of divorces in the nation. In 2009, there were only 1.8 divorces per 1,000 population. Marriages also are legal in Washington, D.C., which closely trails Massachusetts with 2.1 divorces per 1,000 residents.
In New York, the largest and most recent state to legalize marriage equality, has a divorce rate of 2.5 per 1,000. That ties the rate in Iowa, the sole non-Northeastern state to allow same-sex marriages. The other states with marriage equality also all have low divorce rates compared to the national median: Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island have legalized civil unions. They, too, experience relatively lower numbers of divorces. Nevada, which along with California, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin offer domestic partnerships, may prove the exception. It has the nation’s highest divorce rate, at 6.6 per 1,000 residents. But then, Nevada has been the nation’s quickie divorce state for over a century. (Remember the women in the movie “The Women” who were on their way to get “Renovated” from their husbands?)
Rounding out the top ten list of divorce-crazy states are Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine (the only state on the list in the Northeast), Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming. Besides Arkansas and Kentucky, states in the Deep South with rates higher than the Northeast include Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.
See, Mainers voted against marriage equality and look what’s happening up there. The Catholic Bishop, Richard Malone, who spent hundreds of thousands to defeat marriage needs to refocus his energy, too.