Alex Binkley on Sex-Marriage


Alex Binkley is a foremost political and economic analyst, whose website is Readers will be aware that his columns in True North Perspective have foreseen political and economic developments in Canada. This week in ...

The Binkley Report

The great hue-and-cry about same-sex marriage misses the point

Gender is the least problem facing marriage

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

  Lesbian married couple at San Francisco Pride 2004. Image from Wikipedia.

When the electors of North Carolina voted in favour of a ban on gay marriage and President Obama responded by saying he supported same-sex marriages, the stage was set for a debate that really is way off target.

Gay marriage opponents usually trot out tiresome, even tedious, lines about protecting the sanctity of the holy state of matrimony.

In the wake of Obama’s announcement, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, “We cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society. The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better.”

There were plenty of similar comments splashed about in the media and we’ll probably hear lots more in the presidential election campaign during the coming months.
However, marriage seems to be a very shaky cornerstone.

According to the latest Canadian statistics, almost half of traditional marriages in Canada fail. Second marriages founder at a 72% rate and third marriages at 85%. What’s more, 50% of children from a failed marriage don’t see their fathers again after the first year of their parent’s breakup.

Divorce rates in Canada jumped after the legal rules were changed by Parliament in 1968 and in 1985, but have been trending downward ever since. So have marriage rates.
It seems couples increasingly skip marriage as more trouble than it’s worth in favour of common-law relationships or cohabitation contracts. Statistics from the United States are just as disconcerting.

Same sex marriage became legal in Canada in 2005 under the government of former Prime Minister Paul Martin. Seven years have passed with remarkably little public discussion of the issue. No numbers seem to be available, but it’s generally understood that gay marriages aren’t any more successful over the long term than heterosexual ones. A lesbian couple in Ontario received the first same-sex divorce in September, 2004.

It would appear the biggest problem with marriage is people picking the wrong partner. That’s what we need to focus on instead of expending so much gum flapping over the gender of people looking to tie the knot.

Why aren’t all these defenders of traditional marriage as worried about the divorce rates as they say they are the impact of allowing same sex unions? Failed marriages would seem to be the bigger issue. Few people say their life was better after their parents split up.

If marriage is as important to society as some commentators suggest, maybe we should make preparing for it at least as demanding as getting a driver’s license or by requiring couples to go through some form of assessment.

Critics will complain that that will just lead more couples to simply live together. Perhaps, but why keep blundering along pretending a 50% failure rate isn’t a problem?

Some American states have supported marriage counseling programs to help couples resolve their differences and think it has made a difference. It’s at least recognition that something needs to be done.

Anyone who’s been married to their best friend for a long time couldn’t imagine living any other way. What difference does the gender of the partners make to anyone else?

They’re not part of that special relationship. They should mind their own business and be honest about their real motivation in opposing gay marriage.

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