Ending the Dream that Gay Marriage Strengthens Marriage

by Maggie Gallagher

If we can’t agree on anything else, can we at least agree that Jonathan Rauch’s noble dream (it was noble) that gay marriage could be part of strengthening a marriage culture generally is now demonstrably untrue? In the Daily MailPatricia Morgan asks David Cameron’s Tories to stop making this claim:

In Scandinavia, where hostility to the two-parent family is central to the ruling political orthodoxy, the widening of the legal definition of marriage has done nothing to stop the institution decaying.

The same applies in Spain, where the Catholic Church still retains significant social influence and state policy has not been so antagonistic to traditional family life. Gay marriage was first sanctioned in 2005, and since then the decline in heterosexual marriage rates has been precipitous.

Likewise in Holland, where the traditional Protestant culture has fought against the increasingly predominant tolerant anarchy so beloved of liberal campaigners.

Since the Dutch legalised same-sex marriage in 2001, the concept of long-term commitment among heterosexuals has been evaporating — not least because of the parallel introduction of ‘registered partnership’ or ‘cohabitation agreements’ for heterosexuals.

Forty per cent of first babies are now born to unmarried mothers in Holland, a doubling of the rate since 2000. 

This is tragic proof of the misguided belief that same-sex marriage could help to reinforce the value of traditional marriage. And, in any case, this belief has always been absurd and is wholly undermined by the evidence.”

Marriage is decaying so rapidly that it’s hard to pinpoint gay marriage as the cause. We can point out that the young, precisely the group most committed to gay marriage as a social ideal, do (and to me not surprisingly) increasingly disconnect marriage and children.

The change in the law is a marker of the underlying cultural shift, and the campaign for gay marriages crystalize a particular vision of what marriage is and why it is valuable. 

All that may be debateable, but can we at least agree the noble dream of Jonathan Rauch, David Brooks, and others that gay marriage will strengthen marriage as a social institution just doesn ‘t happen?