'Family' (birth rates, marriage trends) harmed by legalization of gay marriage

by Will Hall, |

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) – In the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in United States v. Windsor, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority in invalidating the law that there is "no legitimate purpose" for defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

But Christian leaders like James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and host of Family Talk online and radio broadcasts, contend the institution of marriage as a union between one man and one woman is "the foundation for the entire [human] culture."

" ... it is that important," Dobson told Todd Starnes of Fox News.


Data about the state of families in countries that have legalized gay marriage point to trends that appear to confirm his fears for mankind.

Of those 18 developed nations, only two had birth rates at or above the level sufficient to sustain current populations, and all of them had downward spiraling marriage trends. Moreover, among the 14 of these states tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, only Denmark had a marriage rate higher than Japan, which is headed for a decline in population of about one-third by 2060 and two-thirds by 2110.

But there are a number of compounding factors within this group of countries, including the length of time for which same-sex marriages have been legalized, as well as varying levels of national economic stress, cohabitation behavior and general apathy about marriage among adults (which may be a consequence of the legalization of same-sex marriage or a contributing factor to the redefinition of this institution).

Mircea Trandafir, an assistant professor at the University of Southern Denmark and a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany, examined data from the Netherlands, the first country to legalize same-sex marriage (2001), for the effects of redefinition of marriage over a long period of time. Overall, he found that this social change did not negatively affect marriage across the population because increases in vows among some groups canceled out decreases in nuptials among others.

However, three sub-groups, young women, urbanites and native Dutch, reacted negatively after passage of the same-sex marriage law, causing a drop in traditional marriage among each.


Studies about the impact of same-sex marriage laws on the "family" also have been undertaken in the United States.

Two highly cited investigations found no negative consequences, but each has been criticized because both looked at immediate changes as opposed to outcomes over time.

A research team from American University, Laura Langbein and Mark A. Yost Jr., looked at the impact of same-sex marriage laws in the United States from 1990 through 2004, but only Massachusetts had legalized such a redefinition during this time frame—in May 2004—although Vermont had passed civil unions in April 2000.

Marcus Dillender, an economist with the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, Kalamazoo, Michigan, conducted similar inquiries using data from 1995 through 2010. But his research also suffered from a lack of long term data.

In addition to Massachusetts, he looked at: California, which legalized same-sex marriage for six months in 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, protecting the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman; Connecticut, where civil unions were adopted in 2005, but the first same-sex marriages did not take place until November 2008 after a state judge ruled homosexuals must be allowed to marry; Iowa began officiating homosexual nuptials in April 2009 after a ruling by the state's Supreme Court; Vermont permitted civil unions in April 2000, but homosexual marriage did not become legal until September 2009 when legislators overturned the governor's veto of a bill sanctioning it.

So, although he broadened the scope from one state to five, he still had largely short term information to assess.

Walter Schumm, professor of family studies and human services at Kansas State University, whose research is cited in Obergefell v. Hodges, one of the cases before the Supreme Court, conducted an analysis along the same lines of Langbein & Yost as well as Dillender—but accounted for the "lag" between cause and effect as opposed to the immediacy of a redefinition.

In his analysis he found "the legalization of same-sex marriage had a direct, negative impact on fertility rates" and that such changes took "several years to be statistically manifest."


Dobson joined Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America Action, and Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, to draft a Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage to warn the Supreme Court of civil disobedience if they overturn voter-approved state measures protecting the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

"While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross," the pledge states.

Staver told Fox News' Todd Starnes any redefinition by the Supreme Court would result in the "beginning of the end of Western Civilization" and he is advocating "civil disobedience."

"I'm talking about resistance and I'm talking about peaceful resistance against unjust laws and unjust rulings," he said.

"I'm calling for people to not recognize the legitimacy of that ruling because it's not grounded in the rule of law," he told me. "They need to resist that ruling in every way possible. In a peaceful way – they need to resist it as much as Martin Luther King, Jr. resisted unjust laws in his time."