Columns » John Brummett

Protect marriage?

Should’ve voted Kerry


All our exes don’t live in Texas. A bunch of them live in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia, good God-fearing, George W.-carrying and football-loving places like that. Now that so many of you in Arkansas have chosen by your vote to “protect marriage” above all else, your next step should become obvious. It’s to get the heck out — of Arkansas, the South, the Bible Belt, the Southeastern Athletic Conference, any marital danger zone otherwise known as a red state — and hurry yourself to the relative marital bliss of a blue state. I’m just quoting the statistics, brother. Studies plainly show that divorce rates are higher in George W. Bush states than John Kerry states. The correlation is strikingly clear and the conclusion plainly obvious: The more you spout off about emphasizing traditional Christian values, the more likely you are to have divorced people all around you. That is to say that here in conservative red America we protect marriage with our sanctimonious words and votes, but not our deeds. Those liberal and secular hell holes like the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York — that, it turns out, is where they truly value marriage. Counterintuitive, I believe you call it. Or hypocrisy. I’m referring to data from the National Center for Health Statistics compiling state-by-state rankings of divorces per 1,000 people for 2001, the most recent year I could find. The District of Columbia gave Kerry the highest percentage of its vote last week. It turns out that D.C. had the lowest divorce rate of 2001. Massachusetts gave Kerry the second-highest percentage. It had the second lowest divorce rate for 2001. Of the 10 states with the lowest divorce rates that year, six were Kerry states. In addition to Massachusetts, they were Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. None of the four low-divorce Bush states were in the South, where we profess to love God most and obey Him best. They were Montana, North Dakota, Iowa and Kansas. More vividly, all 10 states with the highest divorce rates in 2001 was Bush states Tuesday. That includes our own little Arkansas, which, get this, had the second-highest divorce rate, 6.6 divorces per 1,000 people. That trailed only the divorce factory out in Nevada, the state of Reno and Vegas, speaking of God-fearing places that embraced the incumbent president. The other eight divorcingest states had a certain Southern-friedness to them. They were Wyoming, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, West Virginia and Tennessee. If you don’t like those statistics, take it up with Gov. Mike Huckabee. He was quoting and lamenting Arkansas’s ranking the other day in announcing his plan for a mass “covenant marriage” ceremony on Valentine’s Day. A “covenant marriage” is supposed to be more serious than a regular marriage in that you commit not to get out of it without counseling. It turns out, though, that a covenant marriage can be dissolved without counseling if both parties want out and neither volunteers to the judge that they made a covenant otherwise. These rankings would seem to suggest a better way to protect marriage. It would be to have a higher standard of living, better educational opportunities and a more enlightened and tolerant population. Finally, I should confess to running up Arkansas’s ranking myself. My personal divorce rate is 200 percent — one guy, two divorces. But I seem to have gotten marriage right the third time, knock wood. It must be this ever-growing liberalism and that year I spent in D.C.

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