April 4, 2009


Demographic winter heralds same-sex marriage spring: The New England region is a sitting duck for the further de-construction of marriage. (Jennifer Roback Morse | Wednesday, 1 April 2009, MercatorNet)

A priest from Vermont recently told me what it is like to minister in one of the least religious states in America. It has one of the highest proportions of the population who consider themselves “unaffiliated” with any religious tradition, at 26 per cent, compared with 16 per cent of the US population. Only 23 per cent of the Vermont population attends church services at least once a week, compared with 39 per cent of the general US population. The priest has had one wedding in the past year, and that was a couple in their fifties. He has perhaps one or two baptisms per year. It sounded rather grim, and a lot like Europe.

About the same time I happened to be reading P.D. James’ chilling novel, The Children of Men. That dystopian novel imagines what the world would be like if the entire human race became sterile. Since no one can have kids, marriage doesn’t mean much. Women lavish attention on child substitutes: they have elaborate christenings for cats and drive dolls around in baby carriages. Since no young people come into being, nothing new and energetic can really happen. People lose hope and reason for living as they age. With the exception of the cat christenings, it sounded a lot like the priest’s description of Vermont.

So this got me to thinking: what is Vermont’s demographic situation? Are they reproducing themselves?

Vermont has the lowest total fertility rate of any state in the union: 1.66 babies per woman. (Note: you have to click on the link for the excel file to see the birth rates.) While you’re looking at the table, please notice that the six New England states, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, are in the “top ten” of the lowest total fertility rate states in the country. Not surprisingly, Vermont has a low population growth rate compared with the rest of the country: Vermont’s population grew 2 per cent between 2000 and 2007, while the entire country grew by 7.2 per cent over the same period.

None of these states are replacing themselves with births. All of them have net out-migration: more people left between 2006 and 2007 than moved into the New England states. See pages 5 and 6 here.

Taking this demographic malaise together with the general low religious practice, the whole region is a sitting duck for the further de-construction of marriage. And make no mistake: instituting same sex marriage amounts to the de-construction of marriage.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 4, 2009 7:12 AM
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