Figurines from a same sex wedding cake
Gay marriage is a contentious issue, but gay divorce doesn't get discussed much. Photo Credit: Giovanni Dall'Orto/Wikimedia Commons

Though it remains a contentious issue for many people, the number of states that permit gay marriage is increasing. However, marriage statistics are frequently accompanied by those of divorce, and there are some interesting emerging studies coming out concerning gay divorce.

British study finds gay divorces increasing

A recent study by the Office for National Statistics in the United Kingdom found the rate of gay divorce is increasing, according to The Telegraph. The number of gay couples entering domestic unions, or civil partnerships as they are referred to in Britain, was also increasing. The rise in gay divorce was sharp, as 44 percent more gay couples divorced in 2010 than in 2009. The overall divorce rate was low; only 1.6 percent of gay men in civil partnerships divorced and 3.3 percent of gay women. In total 509 domestic partnerships were legally dissolved in 2010, compared with 353 in 2009. Overall, 6,385 gay couples in Britain made their union legal in 2010, an increase of only 100 over 2009. The overall divorce rate in Great Britain, according to the ONS, was 10.5 people divorcing per thousand married people.

Lawyers welcome the business

According to a recent article in the New York Post, divorce attorneys started salivating when gay marriage was signed into law by Andrew Cuomo. After Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2004, gay couples were divorcing within months. An estimated 21,000 gay marriages will occur in New York in the next three years, and 1,800 of them are projected to result in divorce, given New York’s divorce rate of 8.4 percent. However, according to Reuters, should any of these couples move out of state, a divorce in other jurisdictions could be difficult. New York state offers the same divorce rights to gay and heterosexual couples, but that isn’t the case in all states. Thirty states do not recognize same-sex marriage. There are two pending same-sex divorces headed for the Texas Supreme Court because of legal difficulties. A Wyoming court found not long ago that same-sex couples have the right to divorce, though that state does not allow gay marriage.

Gay divorce data

Time will tell if gay marriages are more or less successful than heterosexual marriages in the long term. However, some data is beginning to emerge. According to Wikipedia, studies in Great Britain and Denmark found gay couples have lower divorce rates than heterosexual couples, though a study found gay couples in Sweden and Norway had higher divorce rates than heterosexual couples. According to U.S. News and World Report, states that allow gay marriage tend to have a lower overall divorce rate. In 2009, states that didn’t allow gay marriage had a divorce rate of 50.3 percent, and states that allowed gay marriage had an overall divorce rate of 41.2 percent. People in states that allow gay marriage also tend to marry later and have higher education levels.

Sources

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8623150/ONS-gay-divorces-up-by-44.html

Office of National Statistics: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=170

New York Post: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/divorce_lawyers_cheering_too_Gy9OpZfKySYn4pLWPUFwBJ

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/25/us-gaymarriage-new-york-divorce-idUSTRE75O0GV20110625

Wikipedia on Same Sex Divorce: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce_of_same-sex_couples

U.S. News and World Report: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/07/06/divorce-rates-lower-in-states-with-same-sex-marriage?PageNr=1

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