Mass. has lowest divorce rate in the nation, new study reveals

by Hannah Clay Wareham
Monday Sep 7, 2009

Massachusetts had the lowest divorce rate in the nation in 2007, a recently released study from the Division of Vital Statistics at the CDC revealed.

The Bay State had a divorce rate of 2.3 per 1,000 people three years after the advent of marriage equality, and boasted a marriage rate of 5.9.

Provisional data from 2008 records the divorce rate at 2.0 per 1,000 people, indicating that it's continuing to fall.

Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples May 17, 2004, following the Supreme Court's ruling in the case Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.

Prior to and after the ruling, opponents of marriage for same-sex couples protested vociferously, forecasting the demise of the nation and the destruction of the American family.

"Homosexual conduct is, and has been, considered abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature's God upon which this Nation and our laws are predicated. Such conduct violates both the criminal and civil laws of this State and is destructive to a basic building block of society -- the family," Alabama's Judge Roy Moore said in February of 2002.

However, the state with the highest rate of divorce in the country (more than three times that of Massachusetts) is Nevada, where same-sex marriage is not legal. Moore's home state of Alabama is not far behind.

Since the Supreme Court's ruling, opponents of marriage equality have made several unsuccessful attempts to amend the Constitution to ban marriage for same-sex couples in the state. The last effort was defeated by the state legislature on June 14, 2007, which effectively ensured that marriage equality will remain safe in Massachusetts until at least 2012.

In 2006, however, the Supreme Court ruled to bar out-of-state same-sex couples from tying the knot in Massachusetts. "This is an important victory for those of us who wanted to preserve traditional marriage and to make sure that the mistake of Massachusetts doesn't become the mistake of the entire country," then-governor Mitt Romney said.

"I don't think we'll see those kinds of negative social consequences [in states where same-sex marriage is legal,]" M. V. Lee Badgett, author of "When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage," told the Washington Post's Steve Chapman on August 20. "In Europe, there's no evidence that patterns have changed for marriage, divorce or non-marital births because of same-sex marriage or registered partnerships."

Data for 2007 was not available for California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, or Minnesota.

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