Frum on gay marriage

Former Bush adviser David Frum needs to just give up being a conservative who’s basically become a liberal on domestic issues and just become a liberal who’s a warmonger on foreign policy.  Since I’m much more a domestic issues guy, I generally agree with what he has to say on matters of domestic politics.  On the issue of marriage, I think Frum is, in fact, right to be concerned about the breakdown of American families, as there are very serious social costs that go along with single-female headed households.  He quite rightly points out, though, that this has nothing to do with gay marriage.  Good stuff:

The short answer is that the case against same-sex marriage has been tested against reality. The case has not passed its test.

Since 1997, same-sex marriage has evolved from talk to fact.

If people like me had been right, we should have seen the American family become radically more unstable over the subsequent decade and a half.

Instead — while American family stability has continued to deteriorate — it has deteriorated much more slowly than it did in the 1970s and 1980s before same-sex marriage was ever seriously thought of.

By the numbers, in fact, the 2000s were the least bad decade for American family stability since the fabled 1950s. And when you take a closer look at the American family, the facts have become even tougher for the anti-gay marriage position.

Short version.  Marriages are more stable, but here’s my favorite part:

What’s new and different in the past 20 years is the collapse of the Hispanic immigrant family. First-generation Latino immigrants maintain traditional families: conservative values, low divorce rates, high fertility and — despite low incomes — mothers surprisingly often at home with the children.

But the second-generation Latino family looks very different. In the new country, old norms collapse. Nearly half of all children born to Hispanic mothers are now born out of wedlock.

Whatever is driving this negative trend, it seems more than implausible to connect it to same-sex marriage. How would it even work that a 15-year-old girl in Van Nuys, California, becomes more likely to have a baby because two men in Des Moines, Iowa, can marry?   [emphasis mine]

On the one hand, I think it is easy to overstate what it means when one–admittedly populous and important state– takes this action.  On the other, as I’ve said before, gay marriage opponents need to just see the writing on the wall and find something else to fight about.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

3 Responses to Frum on gay marriage

  1. itchy says:

    How would same-sex marriage possibly have an effect on straight marriage? I don’t even see the causal link.

    But, the reason I comment is this meme that has always annoyed me: “Whatever is driving this negative trend … ”

    Here’s what’s driving it (the same thing that drives all trends toward less stable marriages): Marriages in this subculture are no longer strongly patriarchal. Wives now have the choice to leave a bad marriage. Wives have more power, more earning potential, more independence and no longer have to be stuck in bad marriages, beholden to a husband who doesn’t let his marriage keep him from acting like the same single guy he was beforehand.

    Yes, a stable, loving marriage is generally the best environment for a family. But the logical fallacy here is the assumption that all marriages are good marriages. That is absolutely not the case. The reason marriages used to be more stable is because the wives had no choice.

    Now they do. This is a good thing.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Very much agreed about marriage. I think Frum, though, is referring to the trend in women giving birth without ever getting married. Simply looking at the statistics, that’s just not a good trend for social stability and children’s future success.

      • itchy says:

        OK, you’re right, that reference was specifically to having children outside of marriage (which I agree is *generally* not the best environment, though I have known many single parents who had far more stable families than many married parents I’ve known).

        But he does make several references higher up to the “stability of the American family.” I’m all for stable, happy families. But stable does not necessarily mean optimal. I’m not for comparing the well-being of families over decades by using divorce as the sole metric.

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