Same-sex marriages have similar longevity

In a string of brief orders, the Supreme Court of the United States on Oct 6 declined to hear appeals from three appellate courts about same-sex marriage, and this order caused stays issued by those appellate courts for their own rulings to lift immediately, allowing same-sex marriages to proceed in an additional five states.

Monday’s order, which was issued without explanation of any kind, as is typical, made it possible for same-sex marriages to proceed in Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Utah. These states now join Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia, in allowing same-sex marriage.

The other states don’t allow it. However, based on the other states over which the three appellate courts have jurisdiction, we can expect bans on same-sex marriage to be lifted soon in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. That would make 30 states that allow same-sex marriage.

Update 10/7: Add Idaho and Nevada to the list.

The editorial board of the New York Times wondered why the Supreme Court is waiting to rule on the issue of same-sex marriage. For me, the reason is pretty clear: the Supreme Court has no need to decide this issue, since several appellate courts have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Right now, there’s no difference of opinion for the Supreme Court to resolve.

People who oppose same-sex marriage were at the Supreme Court protesting when the orders were issued. They have vowed to defend “traditional marriage.” In the Indiana case, opponents argued that same-sex marriage harms children. The Seventh Circuit majority found that to be a baseless argument and threw it out, but I have another suggestion:

If people are so concerned about harming children, let’s work to reduce the amount of divorce. That harms children, and that’s not a baseless argument.

“Parental divorce … was associated with larger negative effects for children who experienced divorce at an older age as well as for girls’ mathematics test scores,” wrote Christopher J Anthony, et al., in the June issue of the Journal of School Psychology, here. “These findings … underscore the importance of focusing on the variability of child outcomes following parental divorce.”

If same-sex marriage opponents actually cared about children’s well-being, they would turn their attention to divorce. But of course, they aren’t actually concerned about children as much as they are about their idea that state-defined marriages can only be between a man and a woman.

Looking at divorce, another study caught our eye, since it was published around the time of the Supreme Court orders described here. Among couples with marriage-like commitments, same-sex couples have a break-up rate similar to that of heterosexual couples, according to a study published in this month’s edition of the Journal of Marriage and Family, here.

“Same-sex couples who had a marriage-like commitment had stable unions regardless of government recognition,” wrote Michael J Rosenfeld of Stanford University, the author of the study. In the end, the study suggests that, “across all types of couples, couple stability appears to be primarily a function of the couple’s own history, their relationship longevity, and their marital commitment,” US News & World Report quoted him as saying.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more biographical information, see the About page.