The End of the World as We Know It

Raise the terror alert level—married couples are now the minority!

The American Community Survey, released this month by the Census Bureau, found that 49.7 percent, or 55.2 million, of the nation’s 111.1 million households in 2005 were made up of married couples — with and without children — just shy of a majority and down from more than 52 percent five years earlier.

The numbers by no means suggests marriage is dead or necessarily that a tipping point has been reached. The total number of married couples is higher than ever, and most Americans eventually marry.
Oh. So who cares then?

The usual suspects, natch.

“It does show that a lot of people are experimenting with alternatives before they get there,” [Steve Watters, the director of young adults for Focus on the Family] said. “The biggest concern is that those who still aspire to marriage are going to find fewer models. They’re also finding they’ve gotten so good at being single it’s hard to be at one with another person.”
Watters is pretty sure, though, that “the trend of fewer married couples was more a reflection of delaying marriage than rejection of it.” Which, in large part, is true—although he probably hasn’t spoken to any of the couples who are rejecting marriage in “solidarity with gay and lesbian couples who cannot legally marry in most states.”

And what about those gay and lesbian couples, anyhow?

The census survey estimated that 5.2 million couples, a little more than 5 percent of households, were unmarried opposite-sex partners. An additional 413,000 households were male couples, and 363,000 were female couples.

…Since 2000, those identifying themselves as unmarried opposite-sex couples rose by about 14 percent, male couples by 24 percent and female couples by 12 percent.

…In the rural Midwest, the number of households made up of male partners rose 77 percent since 2000.
Quite possibly, it’s not the number of households full-stop, but the number of households willing to identify themselves thusly which has risen significantly. “Gay Chic Reaches Bumblefuck!” “Queer Eye for the Farm Guy!” Or perhaps people are just sick and bloody tired of attempts to bully them into denying who they are. What a perfect legacy for the GOP/Conservative Christian crusade against the LGBT community—more out queers than ever before!

Anyhow, with three quarters of a million same-sex couples across America, the vast majority of whom aren’t allowed to get married, perhaps anyone who’s worried about the state of marriage in America would do well to champion the legalization of gay marriage. Of course, I suspect that for anyone who’s hand-wringing over married couples being a minority, tipping the scales back by offering marriage equality to same-sex couples isn’t the solution they have in mind.

(Crossposted at Ezra’s place.)

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