Gay Marriage: Evidence from Europe?

Policy Forum
June 1, 2006 12:00PM
Auditorium/Wintergarden
William N. Eskridge Jr., Professor of Law, Yale University, Coauthor, Gay Marriage: For Better or For Worse? What We’ve Learned from the Evidence (Oxford University Press, 2006) and Maggie Gallagher, President, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, Coauthor, The Case for Marriage.

As the Senate prepares to debate the Federal Marriage Amendment many scholars are looking at evidence from Scandinavia, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Some observers have argued that experience in those countries shows that legal recognition of same-sex unions leads to a decline in traditional marriage and marital child rearing. A new book challenges that analysis. William N. Eskridge Jr. and Darren R. Spedale find that the argument often advanced is inconsistent with the Scandinavian evidence. In no way, they write, has marriage in the Nordic countries suffered from legalization of same-sex unions. A close look at the data suggests that the sanctioning of gay marriage in the United States would neither undermine marriage as an institution nor harm the well-being of children. Maggie Gallagher argues that the move toward gay marriage in Europe is part of a larger marriage crisis, including a powerful trend away from marriage as a social norm for childbearing and child rearing.