NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Myth of Gay Marriage

February 19, 2004

In countries that have legalized same-sex marriages, the option has not proven to be very popular, according to Stanley Kurtz. In this, homosexuals are following a wider trend in developed countries, where marriage is gradually disappearing.

Scandinavian countries have granted all the benefits and legal rights of married couples to unmarried domestic partners and cohabiting adults. In the 1990s, those countries extended rights to homosexuals as well by legalizing their marriage or civil registration.

However, there wasn't much interest in the option. According to researcher William Eskridge of Yale University, reporting in 2000:

  • Danish law legalized de facto gay marriage in 1989, and nine years later a total of 2,372 couples had registered.
  • Similar changes were made to Norwegian law in 1993, and four years later 674 same-sex couples had registered.
  • Swedish law was changed in 1994, and four years later only 749 couples had sign up.
  • Between 1990 and 2000, Norway's out-of-wedlock birth rate rose from 39 to 50 percent, while Sweden's rose from 47 to 55 percent.
  • In Denmark out-of-wedlock births stayed level during the nineties -- beginning at 46 percent and ending at 45 percent.
  • However, over that period, there was a 25 percent increase in cohabitation and unmarried parenthood in Denmark, and about 60 percent of couples are unmarried at the birth of their first child.

With fewer parents marrying, family dissolutions that used to show up as divorces are now unrecorded. Studies have shown that cohabiting couples with children break up at two to three times the rate of married parents.

Source: Stanley Kurtz (Hoover Institution), "The End of Marriage in Scandinavia," Weekly Standard, February 2, 2004.

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