March 6, 2013
Bowen: “I Wanna Marry You: An Empirical Analysis of the Irrelevancy and Distraction of DOMAs”
This article offers the only empirical analysis to date of national data evaluating the claim that defense of marriage acts (DOMAs) preserve and stabilize the family. The article examines marriage and divorce changes in trends for every state over the last ten years for which data is available comparing changes, if any, before and after a DOMA was enacted or same sex marriage was permitted. After concluding that DOMA does not play a role in either divorce or marriage changes in trends or rates, the article explores what variables are, in fact, correlated with family stability. Given that poverty, religiosity, education, income, age of marriage all play a key role in family stability, the article explores moral entrepreneurism and moral panic as a theoretical explanation for DOMAs’ continued attraction for achieving family stability. Finally, the article offers pragmatic recommendations for achieving family stability. The article asserts that rather than advocate for one decreasingly relevant model of family formation, steps should be taken to mirror the characteristics and outcomes that are associated with stable families. Substance over form will lead to the goals that misguided legislatures thought DOMAs would achieve.
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