The Corner

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About Marriage


A long attempt to refute my claim that same-sex marriage weakens marriage has just been published in an online law journal. The article is authored by Yale Law Professor, William Eskridge, Lawyer, Darren Spedale, and Hans Ytterberg, Sweden’s Ombudsman Against Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation. I’ll post a detailed refutation sometime after the election. (The article’s arguments are eminently refutable.) But one comment for now: The core of my case on the causal effects of same-sex marriage (and marriage-like registered partnerships) rests on my treatment of Norway and the Netherlands. Yet this article has essentially nothing to say about either country. The entire article is about Sweden and Denmark. Now I do think that registered partnerships have helped to lock in and reinforce the separation of marriage and parenthood in both Sweden and Denmark. But as I noted in my original piece on Scandinavia, the causal effect is significantly weaker in Sweden and Denmark than it is in Norway. That’s why I’ve focused my Scandinavia work on Norway. I’ve argued that parental cohabitation and same-sex marriage (or marriage-like registered partnerships) are mutually reinforcing. In Sweden and Denmark, marriage was already very weak prior to the establishment of registered partnerships. That weakness helped create registered partnerships in the first place. In Norway and Holland, on the other hand, registered partnerships were adopted when marriage itself was significantly stronger than it had been in Sweden or Denmark. And when same-sex marriage (or its rough equivalent) was brought into an environment where marriage itself was relatively strong, it had the effect of substantially weakening marriage. That’s why Norway has been the key to my causal case in all my various writings on Scandinavia. And since then, I’ve made my strongest causal argument by pointing to the example of Holland. Yet this supposed refutation of my argument says essentially nothing about the two countries at the empirical core of my causal claims. That makes this “refutation” something of a non sequitur.