A report published this week from the National Center for Health Statistics (working under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) found that marriage rates are ridiculously low right now. There are only 6.5 marriages per 1000 people, a number we haven’t seen since 1900.
Naturally, conservative Christians are blaming gay people. Because now that they’re allowed to be married, why would anyone else even bother with it?
Seriously, that’s their argument.
Dr. Robert Jeffress, who leads First Baptist Church in Dallas, says one reason for the drop in marriage can be traced to the landmark Obergefell decision in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, including in states where it was banned.
“Whenever you counterfeit something, you cheapen the value of the real thing,” Jeffress says. “And if you expand marriage to, basically, any definition you want — two men, two women, three men and a woman — I mean, if marriage is what you want it to be, why bother to get married at all?”
Good luck finding any couples that go on the record to say, “We were totally going to get married, but then gay people got that same right, so we called everything off.” (Actually, there was one Christian couple in Australia that threatened to get divorced after 10 years of marriage if same-sex couples won the right to marry in 2015. They won that right. But the couple is still married because Jesus is apparently cool with lying.)
This isn’t something you can blame on gay people. If anything, opening the door to same-sex marriage nationwide should help those rates go up. But there are reasonable factors we can point to for the decline: It’s harder to find stable jobs, people are in more debt than ever before, more women have careers (so they’re not dependent on a partner), housing is more expensive, cohabitating means there’s no rush to marry, religion (which often pressures people to marry young) isn’t as popular as it used to be, and hitching yourself to one person for life isn’t the only option on the table.
It’s not any one of those things. It’s a mix of all of them. Throw in current political chaos and more people saying they don’t want kids, and it’s no wonder people aren’t marrying as much as they used to.
Same-sex marriage, however, is on nobody’s list of factors… outside of Christian crackpots.
If you want to get married, you can get married. Don’t blame gay people for your relationship problems.
Oh. One more thing: Divorce rates are highest in the most religious parts of the country. That study’s from 2014. So Jeffress couldn’t even blame gay couples if he wanted to.