THE BLOG
07/05/2013 05:27 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Are the Gays Destroying Scandinavia?

Henry Jackson failed as a professional football player, but then declared himself a Bishop and started preaching. As far as I can see, he has no theological training.

However, he's down on the gays and that gives him a following in fundamentalist circles. In a opinion piece at Christian Post he claimed:

"Since legalizing registered partnerships and gay marriage in Scandinavia, an overwhelming number of adults have simply stopped bothering to get married in the first place.
As I have pointed out many times before, words that mean everything, mean nothing. The looser we make the definition of marriage, the fewer people will feel bound to its obligations and constraints. And while broken relationships can hurt adults, they can destroy children."

According to Jackson, who claims a title that not even Christ managed to attain, people stopped getting married in Scandinavia after registered partnerships and gay marriage were legalized. The three nations that make up Scandinavia are Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Is there any truth to Jackson's assertion, regarding these countries?

Let's first look at Sweden.

In 1995, Sweden allowed the equivalent of civil unions and only legalized same-sex marriage in 2009. A paper, Trend Reversal in Marriage in Sweden, by Sofi Ohlsson of Stockholm University says: "Sweden has seen a reversal in marriage trends, from mainly declining marriage rates since the late 1960s to increasing rates from 1998 and onwards..." So, the decline in marriage rates predated any move toward domestic partnerships or same-sex marriage, and then, after domestic partnerships were allowed, marriage rates reversed and started increasing again.

Bill O'Reilly made this same claim on his show stating: "They [unidentified] did a sociological study in Sweden that said that marriage between men and women declined drastically since gay marriage was legalized there." O'Reilly must think himself a prophet as he said this 4 years BEFORE gay marriage was actually legalized in Sweden, though domestic partnerships were allowed. O'Reilly asserted he was using "government statistics."

It should be noted that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also shows Sweden's marriage rates increasing since domestic partnership. The trend line is in the opposite direction than what the "Bishop" and O'Reilly claimed.

How about Denmark? They began registered partnerships in 1989 and only began same-sex marriages last year -- which means there is no trend line for marriages at this time. We do know, however, what happened after registered partnerships were allowed. The US Census Bureau reports on marriage rates per 1,000 population and they list these rates for various countries from 1980 to 2008. In 1980, the Danish marriage rate per 1,000 population was 8, domestic partnerships came into being in 1989 and the marriage rate increased in Denmark to 9.1 by the next year. By 2008 these rates increased again, to 10.3. This is a trend in a direction opposite to what the "Bishop" asserted. The same Census report indicates that during this period Swedish marriage rates rose from 7.1 to 8.3.

2013-07-05-Norway.png

Domestic partnerships began in Norway in 1993 and same-sex marriages were legalized in 2009. However, trend lines, yet again, are opposite to what Jackson asserted. The above chart, supplied by the Norwegian statistics agency, covers the period from 1975 until 2012. You can see the trend in marriages from 1975 was downward, hitting a low in 1992, one year prior to legalizing domestic partnerships. Since then, the general trend has been upward for the number of marriages. In addition, the agency says the trend for divorces from 2003 to 2012 has been down 7.7 percent, while the trend in marriages has been up 8.9 percent.

That marriage rates in Scandinavia have increased is actually rather surprising, since the marriage rates in most developed countries have been falling for some time. The OECD wrote: "Marriage rates have fallen in most OECD countries." Two exceptions they mentioned were Sweden and Spain, both of which legalized same-sex marriages.

This downward trend exists in most Western nations whether or not gay marriage is allowed, and has predated gay marriages in all of them. Nations that have never recognized same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships have still seen marriage rates decline. The three nations of Scandinavia, however, are not among them.

Rev. Jackson may get leeway when he claims to know what God wants, but when he claims facts about this world they can be verified and they show he is completely wrong.