The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 3, 2013

Rulings on same-sex unions place spotlight on the weathered institution of marriage

(Continued)

“What it comes down to is the commitment we have emotionally to one another and the family we have created,” added Friedman, 57. “We’re just like anybody else. This completes our family.”

Proposition 8 proponents argued, unsuccessfully, that same-sex unions essentially would sound the death knell for traditional marriage.

Yet the reality is research paints a complex picture of modern-day marriage as already having undergone tremendous change.

Data analysis at the National Center for Family and Marriage Research found that the average first marriage now has been delayed to nearly age 29 for men and 27 for women. An average of 31 per 1,000 eligible women wed each year compared with 76 per 1,000 in 1970 — a drop of nearly 60 percent. Also, 41 percent of children now are born outside of marriage.

The recession has played a role, too, as many people have felt they were unable to afford getting married. On the flip side, the divorce rate appears to have lessened for the same reason during the economic downturn.

Santa Clara University’s Shapiro quipped that you could look at the discouraging marital data and conclude “that it’s starting to look like only same-sex couples want to get married.” But he cautioned that the numbers must be taken with a grain of salt. People may be waiting longer to exchange vows, Shapiro said, but that doesn’t mean they don’t eventually get married.

In fact, the bridal industry has grown into a $70 billion-a-year business, said Anja Winikka, of TheKnot.com, the most-popular online wedding site. Winikka added that while the number of marriage licenses issued by states has been flat in recent years, their business continues to expand as couples now spend an average of $28,427 on weddings.

Darlene Laspina, co-owner of Danville’s Events by Wallace event planners, said the wedding business is booming locally — and she expects same-sex marriages will only add to that.

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