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Situation Critical

“Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades.”

So says Lawrence Finer of the Alan Guttmacher Institute (USA Today, Dec. 19, 2006). The Guttmacher Institute published a study in Public Health Reports (Jan./Feb. 2007), the journal of the U.S. Public Health Service, based on interviews conducted by the federal National Survey of Family Growth with over 38,000 people for a period of 20 years. The study found that nine out of ten Americans — ninety percent of men and women alike — have engaged in premarital sex. This is the triumph of the sexual revolution: Sex is now almost completely unmoored from marriage. And marriage in America is sinking like the Titanic.

How far has marriage sunk? According to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau figures by The New York Times (Oct. 15, 2006), married couples in 2005, as a proportion of U.S. households, “have finally slipped into a minority.” Only 49.7 percent of U.S. households are still headed by married couples, with and without children, “down from more than 52 percent five years earlier.” Among 25- to 34-year-olds, once prime marrying age, the proportion of married couples “slipped below 50 percent for the first time within the past five years.” For the married minority, the U.S. divorce rate holds steady at around 50 percent. Americans can’t seem to abandon ship fast enough.

Incidentally, The New York Times also reported that, since 2000, the number of homosexual male couples rose by 24 percent, and lesbian couples by 12 percent. Peculiarly, in that time, the number of homosexual “male partner” households rose 77 percent in, of all places, the rural Midwest. Could this be the Brokeback Mountain effect?

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