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Santorum Mocks Gay Marriage: ‘I Love My Brother. Should We Call This Relationship Marriage Too?’

By Amanda Terkel on May 22, 2008 at 6:44 pm

"Santorum Mocks Gay Marriage: ‘I Love My Brother. Should We Call This Relationship Marriage Too?’"

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ap060324031180.jpg Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer column by former Republican senator Rick Santorum is a shrill rant against the California Supreme Court for its recent ruling allowing gay marriage. Santorum worries about the “future of marriage as the union of husband and wife” and points out that he was “sounding the alarm about marriage” back in 2003.

To underscore his assertion that gay marriage = the collapse of civilization, he points to Norway:

Look at Norway. It began allowing same-sex marriage in the 1990s. In just the last decade, its heterosexual-marriage rates have nose-dived and its out-of-wedlock birthrate skyrocketed to 80 percent for firstborn children. Too bad for those kids who probably won’t have a dad around, but we can’t let the welfare of children stand in the way of social affirmation, can we?

But what about love? That’s the question a student asked this winter when I spoke at Georgetown University.

Is anyone saying same-sex couples can’t love each other? I love my children. I love my friends, my brother. Heck, I even love my mother-in-law. Should we call these relationships marriage, too? Marriage is and always has been more than the acknowledgment of the love between two people.

Conveniently, Santorum gives no sources for his inaccurate statistics. Norway began allowing same-sex civil unions in 1993. But according to M.V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Norway’s “big surge” in the nonmarital birth rate occurred in the 1980s, jumping from 16 percent to 39 percent. In the decade after Norway authorized civil unions, the nonmarital birth rate rose only “slightly,” and then, “after a couple of years, leveled off at 50 percent.” These rates are similar to those in countries without such laws.

Additionally, in a 2006 Wall Street Journal op-ed, William Eskridge, Jr., a Yale professor, and author Darren Spedale found that heterosexual marriage rates have actually risen 12.7 percent in Norway since 1993. Similarly, divorce rates amongst heterosexual couples have fallen 6 percent.

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