Demographic Winter Heralds “Same-sex Marriage” Spring

The gay rights movement has targeted New England for their “6 by 12” strategy of having same sex marriage in all six of the New England states by 2012. This strategy makes sense from their point of view. They already have same sex marriage in Massachusetts and Connecticut, by judicial fiat. In addition, New England is less religious than the rest of the country. And this is a region which has already given up on having babies as a viable way to create a future.

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.

Natural, man woman marriage attaches fathers to their children, and mothers and fathers to each other. Redefining marriage from the union of a man and a woman to the union of any two persons jettisons three important principles: first, the principle that children are entitled to a relationship with both parents, second, the biological principle for determining parentage, and third, the principle that the state recognizes parentage, but does not assign it. Regular religious practice seems to inoculate people from believing that these principles are unimportant.

Sometimes the arguments over same sex marriage degenerate into an argument over cause and effect. Advocates of same sex marriage argue that there is no real connection between that legal change and changes in other aspects of marriage, at least not when looking at measurable demographic indicators like non-marital child-bearing. But that is not what I am suggesting here.

My point here is that people who have already excused themselves from reproducing do not see any particular problem in redefining marriage. The people who have given up on reproducing don’t mind uncoupling marriage from concern about children. And if religious people are the only ones who can muster the hope in the future necessary to shoulder the effort of raising children, so much the worse for the non-religious.

But the fact that the aging solons of New England have given up doesn’t mean that the rest of us ought to. The principle that kids need mothers and fathers is worth fighting for.

Copyright © Jennifer Roback Morse.Originally published by

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  • goral

    Dr. Morse, you forgot to mention that these are (were) the most Catholic states in the Union with the exception of Maryland where pink palaces (seminaries) are still flourishing.
    Vermont had a traditional Yankee population; they would only fight for their cows so it was easy for the effluent, sorry, affluent from NYC to gain a stronghold with Ben & Jerry ice cream. All they had to do was put a picture of cows on their trucks.
    VT Teddy Bears Co. gave everybody a warm feeling that they were caring with no cares like….diapers.

    New Hampshire succumbed the same way to the Boston Bi’s. The ‘live free to fish or die’ motto was no match for the ‘Republicans are the worst of evils’ crowd migrating up from the overtaxed state.
    The Maritime Provinces neighboring Maine give it a French vanilla flavor.
    Nuff said.
    CT, MA and RI don’t amount to much in square miles nor in spiritual fortitude.
    The once conservative Catholic Democrats from traditionally Catholic nationalities such as the Irish, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and now Hispanic groups have remained more loyal to the Deathocrats than to their Faith.
    Thanks to the church leadership New England orthodox Catholics are as sparse as old England Catholics and the Catholic churches are as vibrant as the
    Yankee Congregational churches on the green.

    Somewhere in the middle of New Eng. a town was bustling with shops and mills and children playing now God only knows what goes on in Athol, Massachusetts.

  • celothriel

    I’m not sure when this article was written, but here’s an update for the state of Maine: within the last couple of weeks, our legislature voted to redefine marriage to allow same sex marriages and to eliminate any reference to gender in Maine’s marriage laws. This was signed into law by our pro-abortion governor, John Baldacci, who identifies himself as a Catholic. There are many of us here, though, who haven’t given up yet, and an attempt at a People’s Veto is underway. We would greatly appreciate your prayers for success in the veto, and success in changing people’s hearts and minds.

  • Cooky642

    Take heart! As some wit (whose name I don’t remember) has pointed out, those who practice demographic suicide will die off and their “estate” be left to the offspring of those who reject demographic suicide! As quoted in other contexts, we’ve read the End of the Book, and we know how it all comes out!

  • elkabrikir

    We can “shake the dust” of NE off our feet. It wouldn’t even make a splash in the Atlantic.

    Hopefully, a few Italian, Irish, or Polish Catholics learned how to swim. Or are they all too busy doing gymnastics with the Bible?

    Seriously, this is an evil age. Many have hardened their hearts. In Justice they will receive their reward. Even St Francis de Sales knew when to keep silent in the face of debased sinners. These folks aren’t changing without a miracle.

    That said, I do pray daily for our country. I have shed many a tear as I weep over “Jerusalem”. I know why Jesus wept.

    Maintain personal sanctity. Don’t lose your peace over those who are trying to destroy YOU as well as themselves.

    Blessings to you Cooky. and hugs too.

  • kirbys

    “with the exception of Maryland where pink palaces (seminaries) are still flourishing.”

    goral: I rarely post but read a lot here and I must beg to differ! Our parish has hosted at least 6 seminarians (we are in the Archdiocese of Baltimore) for their pastoral year (or longer) and every one of them has been enthusiastically faithful to the Magesterium and the Holy Father. For the past two years our ARchdiocese has had 13-14 enter the seminary, which isn’t a huge number compared to generations ago but is certainly a whopping improvement compared to just a couple of years ago. Prayer has made a huge difference–and homeschooling, as well.

    I agree with much of what you post,goral, but pink is passe here–there is a beginning of a beginning. 🙂

  • goral

    Thanks kirbys, I welcome the contest of that statement. I visit the Baltimore Cathedral at least once a year. At this time in the affairs of the Church, “flourishing” might be an outlandish word. Let’s pare it back to “floundering”.
    Dispensing with the pink pleases me even more.
    We’ll keep praying that 6 by 12 never happens up here or down your way.