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Data from the Netherlands

Trial analysis

Netherlands marriage databy Brian Leubitz

We’ve spent the last hour or so on the marriage and divorce rate in the Netherlands. So, I did a google search and found an image that gets most of this data. The defense chose 1994 as their first year to show data, but if one is to be honest, it is clear that you have to go back much further to get the real trend.

The point of all this seems to be that from 1994 to 2008, there was some dividing line at around 2001. Of course, there are huge problems with this logic. First, there were year to year shifts in the past that were much larger than the shift in 2001. Further, the trend is very clear that since around 1970, the trend for marriage has been markedly down.

But instead of showing the larger context, they choose 1994. It’s like something you would see in the USA Today. It’s Fun with Numbers. Numbers are very powerful, but you can play with them, make images look very powerful depending on the scale you use on a chart, or the time period you take. But numbers need context, and fortunately, David Boies is doing a pretty good job of this during redirect.


  • 1. Kim  |  January 19, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Brain, check the courage campaign e-mail, I can help here.

  • 2. Andy W  |  January 19, 2010 at 8:42 am

    If the goal here is to protect marriage, then why isn't the YES ON 8 Group working on removing divorce from the constitution ?

  • 3. nightshayde  |  January 19, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Because that would affect them negatively & where's the fun in that?

  • 4. Steve  |  January 19, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Oh lawd, is dat sum science?

  • 5. Alice  |  January 19, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I am giggling incessantly at these graphs and how Prop 8 fails at basic graph reading skills (or rather, how they thought they would get away with it).

  • 6. nightshayde  |  January 19, 2010 at 8:55 am

    You can tell they're not used to having people apply critical thinking skills. If we'd all just believe what they tell us, I'm sure they'd find life far simpler.

  • 7. Sam  |  January 19, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Actually, the best way to save marriage seems to be: become a dirty liberal and live in sin before making such a commitment.

    That way you don't rush into sex just so you can finally get some guilt-free nookie.

  • 8. pearlheartgtr  |  January 19, 2010 at 8:59 am

    With this nonseniscal fact finding of the defense, one would think Cooper was channelling Glen Beck.

  • 9. Tom  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Hi Brian. May I say how much I love you and everyone else over there doing such an amazing job of keeping those of us on the outside well informed. Even without cameras, these transcripts will live on forever – even my 73 year old dad in NJ has read some of them. Keep up the amazing work – the graphs in particular are stunning. Lying with statistics has been done since the beginning of time. Nice to see that the truth can still get out there. You guys ROCK!!!!!!

  • 10. Sam  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Oops, freudian slip:

    That way you don't rush into marriage.

  • 11. Ray Harwick  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:07 am

    I don't that they are so much failing rather than trying to take a single segment of the data to emphasize that and say it proves that marriage has declined because gays could marry.

    So the expert is DEAD RIGHT that the trend in marriage decline began YEARS before gays could even marry.

    Talk about Cherry Picking the data!!!!

  • 12. Bry  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:16 am

    How To Lie With Statistics 101

  • 13. A  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Yeah Boies! With the end of his redirect, he got to twist the knife in Cooper's cross-examination:

    "Boies: Did any question Mr. Cooper ask you go to the heart of the matter about whether or not gay couples are harmed by not being able to marry?

    "Badgett: No, I have not changed our opinion based on our discussion.

    "Boies: Was there anything he showed you or discussed with you that was inconsistent with your conclusion that the children of gay or lesbian couples would be hurt by their parents not being able to marry.

    "Badgett: I don’t think we discussed that at all, so no.

    "Boies: Was there anything he showed you or discussed with you that was inconsistent with your conclusion that the institution of marriage would be harmed?

    "Badgett: No I have seen no evidence that there would be any harm to the institution of marriage.

    "Boies: No further questions."

    (from FDL,… )

  • 14. PM, in the UK  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Oh dear; so was Cooper actually attempting Fun With Numbers while the debunking evidence was in THE VERY SAME BIG BINDER?
    (I'm assuming there aren't multiple big binders tracking Netherland trends – possibly that's naive at this point…)

    I wonder how far apart they were?
    Out of context one page, in context next?

  • 15. Moriah  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Quoting the trial and posting new links to the blog articles on my facebook and e-mailing links to people i know, every time something new shows up! Everybody keep up the good work, and we're all so glad that you're keeping us well-informed. It's too bad we can't watch the trial on TV, but this is definitely the next best thing.

  • 16. Mouse  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:33 am


    So far, things sound very hopeful for equality. The defense sound as if their reasons are being shown for the irrational nonsense that they are.

    I almost don't have the energy to get my hopes up. Prop 22, Prop 8, Maine, New York… all those attacks have been so emotionally draining.

  • 17. nightshayde  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:36 am


    Hello, Mouse! Eeep – I've been found!!! >.>

  • 18. Lymis  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Hey, it's been a while since I took statistics, but if we are using these graphs with the absurd proposition that the only thing that could affect them is the presence or absence of gay marriage, doesn't the trendline flatten out a bit around the time gay marriage passed?

    In other words, gay marriage seems to be shoring up marriage in the Netherlands.

  • 19. Polderboy  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Here are the official nrs of marriages in the Netherlands from the CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics).
    You can create your own set of data (all marriages, same sex or diff sex marriages, civil unions).

  • 20. Lies  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:52 am

    This Netherlands thing is such bullcrap. I'm from Belgium, which is just south of the Netherlands – I have Dutch friends and I've been there heaps of times. Not only are they completely misusing statistics, as you say, it is also just not a good idea to compare the Netherlands – or my country, for that matter – to the US in this respect. Marriage rates in both the Netherlands and Belgium have steadily gone down for years and years, gay marriage has nothing to do with that (the increasing secularization probably does have something to do with it – barely any young people marry any more). The US is just a much more traditional country in that respect.

  • 21. Polderboy  |  January 19, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Marriage in the Netherlands since 2005 is on the rise.

    See the official nrs of marriage in the Netherlands.

    Of course, it has nothing to do with gay marriage. First: marriages since the 70s are declining. Second: Economy influences the nr of marriages in a year. Third: many straight couples opt for civil unions instead of marriage.

    As a side note: on 2-2-2002, our Crown-prince married his hugely popular girlfriend. This might have influenced a lot of marriages around that time.

  • 22. Brad  |  January 19, 2010 at 10:19 am

    So you're saying Prop 8 defenders are misrepresenting facts?

    How unlike them.

  • 23. michael  |  January 19, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I agree and at least with this we don't have commercials..

  • 24. DovS  |  January 19, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Looking at the two graphs, I think that they actually DO show a significant change around 2000 – just not the kind that the Prop 8 defenders are claiming.

    If you compare the two graphs, you will notice that they are mirror images of one another. As marriage rates decrease, divorce rates increase, and vice-versa. The one exception is that, after 2000, both marriage rates AND divorce rates decrease.

    Since marriage rates were already following a long trend of decrease, we cannot interpret much from the post-2000 decrease. However, it is the one time on the graph when divorce rates were decreasing at the same time. I would interpret this to indicate that something happened in 2000 which caused a total net gain for marriage stability.

  • 25. Elizabeth Casswell  |  January 19, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Nice information! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • 26. Petr Tomeš  |  January 20, 2010 at 5:01 am

    The Australian Psychological Society acknowledges the lack of scientific evidence for the usefulness of conversion therapy, and notes that it can in fact be harmful for the individual. Changing the sexual orientation of a person is not simply a matter of changing the person's sexual behaviour. It would require altering the emotional, romantic and sexual feelings of the person and restructuring self-concept and social identity.

  • 27. Box Turtle Bulletin &raqu&hellip  |  January 20, 2010 at 10:54 am

    […] Courage Campaign’s Brian Leubitz found charts on the marriage rate and divorce rate in the Netherlands for the past few decades. […]

  • 28. Expect More of the Same &&hellip  |  June 15, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    […] evidence as possible. They’ve got the discredited Netherlands data in there on page 14. See my post during the trial highlighting the evidence debunking that. Long story short on that: Did marriage rates decline […]

  • 29. ConservativeNY  |  June 16, 2010 at 10:38 am

    While true that marriages were already on the decline before gay marriage was legalized in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, it by no means "debunks" anything.

    Gay marriage is one of several causes of the decline of marriages. Gay marriage is one part of a new stage of marital decline that contains three basic elements: parental cohabitation, legal equalization of marriage and cohabitation, and gay marriage. All three factors are mutually reinforcing. When any of these three factors emerges, the others tend to follow. And together, they all erode the institution of marriage to obscurity and irrelevance. That is what happened in the Netherlands.

  • 30. A Strange and New Concept&hellip  |  January 31, 2013 at 7:56 am

    […] — this again? The Netherlands case has been thoroughly debunked: marriage rates were declining there long before same-sex marriage was legalized. And as for Spain, […]

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