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Avoidance Strategy: What about marriage in the Netherlands?

Stanley Kurtz

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On multiple occasions, I’ve rebutted claims by William Eskridge and Darren Spedale that European marriage is flourishing under the impact of same-sex unions. (See especially “No Nordic Bliss.”)

Now Spedale and Eskridge have repeated their basic line in an October 27 Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled, “The Hitch,” yet have done so with a telling omission. Remarkably, Spedale and Eskridge have nothing whatever to say about marriage in the Netherlands, the country that has had formal same-sex marriage longer than any other place in the world. Spedale and Eskridge treat Scandinavian registered partnerships as the only case worth talking about, supposedly because we’ve had full gay marriage in the Netherlands for only five years. Yet we’ve had registered partnerships in the Netherlands for nearly a decade, and full gay marriage for about half that time. It’s absurd to rule a decade’s worth of data from the Netherlands out of court, especially when much of that time includes the world’s first and longest experiment in formal same-sex marriage. This straining to completely omit data from the Netherlands is the surest sign that Spedale and Eskridge are on shaky ground.

Given the fact that marriage has deteriorated more rapidly in the Netherlands than in any West European country over the last decade, the reluctance of Spedale and Eskridge to talk about the Dutch case makes sense. Yet they do treat the issue in their book. I’ve discussed the Netherlands extensively (see, for example, “Standing Out”), arguing that all signs point to same-sex unions as a key factor in the decline of Dutch marriage. In “Smoking Gun,” I offered a detailed rebuttal of Eskridge and Spedale’s treatment of The Netherlands. And I’ve had a direct exchange with the authors on this issue. (See my Corner post, “Eskridge-Spedale.”) Given all that, I think it’s telling that Spedale and Eskridge have now decided to avoid talking about the Netherlands altogether.

Read the entire article on the National Review Online website (new window will open).

Posted: 31-Oct-06



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