We are continuing the discussion from our last post about same-sex marriage and data. As Illinois and other states -- and presidential candidates -- debate the pros and cons of same-sex marriage, partisan and independent organizations are gathering data to support one side or the other.
One study, for example, showed that the divorce rate in states that allow same-sex marriages is lower than in other states. Another showed that children fare better in heterosexual, two-parent households. It's almost as if you can frame the argument and, poof! There's a study to support it or research that undercuts it.
For example: For many, the public policy issues surrounding same-sex unions are eclipsed by personal ties. According to Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, seven out of 10 people say they are related to or know someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Sounds pro-same-sex marriage, doesn't it? But those arguing against could include one or two, "Some of my best friends" rejoinders, followed by a "Just because my uncle is gay, doesn't make it right."
In Illinois, both sides are pointing to the statistics as proof of their claims. During the first six months that civil unions were legal, more than 3,700 couples applied for licenses. That is proof that (a) civil union is embraced by the LGBT community, so there is no need to go further, or (b) the LGBT community is anxious to have the same legal rights that heterosexual married couples have, so it's time to go all the way, to legalize same-sex marriage.
For richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, data will continue to be a loyal supporter of every argument.
Source: Medill Reports, "Divorce rates lower in states that allow same-sex marriage," Donesha Aldridge, March 1, 2012