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This week, David Frum – who had been holding on to his self-proclaimed conservative label by his fingernails – dropped into the abyss of moral relativism, embracing same-sex marriage. “I find myself strangely untroubled by New York state’s vote to authorize same-sex marriage,” he wrote for CNN.com. “I don’t think I’m alone in my reaction either. Most conservatives have reacted with calm – if not outright approval – to New York’s dramatic decision.”
What was Frum’s justification for his shift from traditional marriage advocate to same-sex marriage friend? “The short answer is that the case against same-sex marriage has been tested against reality. The case has not passed its test.” Where, you ask, has the case against same-sex marriage been tested? Frum doesn’t give statistics, other than broad national statistics, pointing out that “the 2000s were the least bad decade for American family stability since the fabled 1950s.”
This, of course, is supremely idiotic. Same-sex marriage has not been tested nationwide. It is sanctioned by the government in precisely six states now: New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire. California is on the fence. Not much of a sample size.
Beyond that, the argument against same-sex marriage is not that it will undermine traditional marriages already in existence. It is that same-sex marriage contributes to the general decline of traditional marriage by granting the same benefits to people who live together under virtually any circumstances. More importantly, the argument runs, children need a stable mother-father household, and any measures that make such households less common are negative.
Frum finishes his column by totally missing that point. “By coincidence, I am writing these words on the morning of my own 23rd wedding anniversary. Of all the blessings life has to offer, none equals a happy marriage. If proportionally fewer Americans enjoy that blessing today than did 40 years ago, we’re going to have to look for the explanation somewhere other than the Legislature in Albany.”
Again, nobody is accusing same-sex marriage of being the sole determinant of marital decline. But it is a symptom of a broader devaluation of marriage. The same people who push for same-sex marriage push for registered partnerships, for civil unions – for governmental benefits for non-traditional marriage. As those legal situations become more available, more people will take advantage of them, and less people will buy into traditional marriage. We’ve already seen it in the Netherlands, where the number of marriages has declined consistently since the legalization of gay marriage; it’s down 10 percent since 1999. Meanwhile, registered partnerships have exploded 500 percent over the last ten years. According to William C. Duncan of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, “Nine in ten couples plan to live together before marrying and two-thirds of cohabiting couples plan to marry ‘but keep postponing marriage.’”
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