Thursday, November 02, 2006

Addressing the Scandinavia Argument: Introduction

The End of Marriage in Scandinavia by Stanley Kurtz has been one of the key arguments used by Marshall/Newman amendment (ballot question #1) supporters such as Virginia 4 Marriage. Kurtz's essay is, at best, a strong rebuttal to some gay-rights advocates' claims that legalizing de facto gay marriage in Denmark strengthened marriage in the country, and at worst it is a grave disservice to a serious problem in Scandinavia.

Without further investigating the raw data of his sources and their accuracy, I will concede for this essay that there is indeed a serious problem in Scandinavia. According to Kurtz's findings, there is an alarming number of children born not only out-of-wedlock but raised by choice (as opposed to circumstance) by single parents. This alone would not be too extreme if extreme at all (many children our raised by a single parent and grow up to be healthy functioning people in America) other than to the most imposing of social conservatives, were it not for the data showing higher mortality rates in Scandinavian children under these circumstances.

Though the exact nature of these child mortalities and health problems (physical and mental) is limited in Kurtz's essay to little more than cold statistics, they are not what concern me on a local level as a born and raised citizen of Virginia. What concerns me is how this being applied to Virginia its people, which are a far cry from Scandinavia in our culture, popular outlooks and degree of liberalism and radicalism. The situations are very different and his conclusions for how these mortalities came to pass are questionable enough purely in the context of Scandinavia.

As I said: at best he proves gay marriage did not significantly strengthen marriage - or rather, it did not notably impact the already declining popularity of marriage in Denmark. He does not stop there though. He takes these findings several steps further to state that de facto gay marriage worsened the state of marriage in not only Denmark, but throughout Scandinavia where similar patterns of marital breakdown and single parenting have emerged and flourish exponentially. Though he is evasive, initially correcting himself to say that, it has further undermined the institution as the essay progresses he does come to insinuate full blame for the situations in these countries be laid upon their legalization of gay marriage. Disregarding many of the variables in Scandinavia that led to marital erosion that he documents in his own essay, he concludes by warning that legalizing gay marriage or even same-sex civil unions in the United States will result in not only a similar marital erosion to Scandinavia, but because of our economic differences, a much more severe situation. This narrow look at statistical findings without broader sociological consideration, suggests his conclusions are governed by his preconception's preference. In ignoring the grander picture he does disservice to the actual problems he describes being faced in Scandinavia, which need to be addressed if they are as he claims, as well as those in the United States. Omitting the kind of deductive reasoning that is essential to work such as this, he takes two separate issues (the breakdown of traditional marriage and the legalization of gay marriage) that seem to coexist and declares them interdependent without thoroughly exploring their coexistence.

His efforts to cover his own tracks force him to include significant data that goes contrary to his conclusions and conceal it in the manner of arrangement. He applies logical rules to one thing than ignores them with another. In the following pieces I will show these points using extensive excerpts from The End of Marriage in Scandinavia. To find flaw in his claims and the application of those claims to the state of Virginia, one needs only to read his essay thoroughly and critically.


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