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Divorce data supports both sides of same-sex marriage debate

Same-sex marriage is still in the headlines in Illinois. The arguments for and against have not varied much over the years, though the civil union law added a little complexity on both sides. What we do know is that the debate won't die down any time soon -- it is an election year, after all.

Nor will researchers stop producing data on marriage and divorce and children in same-sex versus heterosexual relationships. Like, for example, the study from the Pew Research Center that showed that more and more Americans support same-sex marriages every year. Or, the analysis of same-sex divorce rates that the Williams Institute released in November.

According to the Williams Institute study, most of the states that allow same-sex marriage do not track same-sex divorces separately. The states that do report both categories say that the divorce rate for same-sex marriages is slightly lower than the divorce rate for heterosexual couples.

The researchers concluded that states that have legalized same-sex marriage (not civil unions) have lower divorce rates overall than the rest. In Vermont, for example, the divorce rate for same-sex marriages is 0.3 percent; for both same-sex and heterosexual marriages, the rate is 3.8.

One Illinois man suggests that the rate is lower for gays because they have waited longer to get married. By the time the civil union law was passed, he said, he and his partner had been together for 16 years. They entered into the civil union as, in effect, an old married couple.

We'll continue this in our next post.

Source: Medill Reports, "Divorce rates lower in states that allow same-sex marriage," Donesha Aldridge, March 1, 2012

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