Listening to the news media, you’d think that Americans simply don’t understand marriage.  One in two marriages fails.  Public schools peddle theories about “alternative families” with such textbooks as Heather Has Two Mommies.  Single women run hither and yon looking for Mr. Goodbar, who turns out to be a white-frocked fertility guru equipped with a turkey baster and petri dishes.

Consider these data: The marriage rate in 1945, with the United States emerging from World War II and still suffering the lingering effects of the Depression, was almost 12.2 per 1,000.  In 1946, it peaked at 16.4.  In 1960, the last year of the Baby Boom and the warm sunset of Ike’s halcyon years, the rate dipped to 8.5.  At the height of the Vietnam War, it was 10.6.  By 2008, it was 7.3, less than half the figure in 1946 and below the rate of 9.2 in 1930, the height of the Great Depression.

This is bad.  Very bad.  Yet, however bad it is, and however thoroughly the liberal elites think they have brainwashed the masses into accepting clerically approved sodomy and a brave new world of cloned humans, the national numbers do not tell the whole story.  Statistics paint a bleak picture of the undifferentiated mass of Americans, but they also show that sundry Americans view marriage and children differently.  So-called Red State Americans marry earlier and have more children than Blue State Americans.  The childless, left-coast sodomites who went nuclear after voters approved California’s Proposition 8, which sought to ban sodomite “marriage,” can blow up as often as they want, but they can’t change nature.  In the end, leftist sexual ideology is suicidal.

Indeed, it is so suicidal that it cannot garner support from two key constituencies who typically vote for leftists: blacks and Hispanics.  True, in California, both groups voted overwhelmingly in favor of Barack Obama; but they also voted in favor of Proposition 8 by 70 and 53 percent, respectively.  And many of the Hispanics who voted for Prop 8 were likely immigrants or the children of immigrants.  Does this mean that proponents of unrestricted immigration are right when they tout the “family values” of Hispanic immigrants who are flooding this country?  Do open borders have a positive effect on marriage in the United States?

Vanderbilt University anthropologist Virginia Aber-nethy has argued in these pages that excessive immigration has a negative effect on marriage rates among the native-born population.  In March 2004, she noted that insecurity about the future—a by-product of the diminishing prosperity that results, in part, from excessive immigration—delays marriage and may even drive some toward homosexuality:

Working their way through the economy and political system, demographic changes have steadily undercut the middle class. . . . Both the numbers of nonassimilated newcomers and their effect on the economy create stress. . . . The 30-year depression in the labor market and debt that grows in lockstep with our consumer culture discourage both marriage and the responsibilities of parenthood.  Postponed commitments evolve into singles lifestyles.  A singles lifestyle is the default option in life, “chosen” through inaction and the passage of time.  Meager chances for forming a traditional family increase the attractiveness of “alternative” lifestyles.  Thus, some young people may try out, or at least become open to, homosexuality, a variant of the singles culture.

In May 1999, Abernethy wrote that immigration reduces the fertility rates of heterosexual Americans who either do not get married or delay having children during marriage because financial resources are precarious or lacking.

Newcomers to the United States often do not share the trepidation of natives who sense that opportunity for themselves and their children is deteriorating and, therefore, feel compelled to husband resources by limiting family size.  Newcomers feel well off because economic opportunity is usually greater than in the country left behind, the social safety net is stronger and broader, and educational opportunities for children are often far superior.  Not surprisingly, those coming from a culture where large family size is highly valued feel free to raise their childbearing target to a number closer to their ideal.  Comparisons suggest that some immigrants—Mexicans for example—have larger families in the United States than if they had remained at home where opportunities are more limited.  Different perceptions of opportunity—as well as values—result in different fertility rates.  If native-born Americans are to replace themselves in future generations, their fertility rate should rise and immigrant fertility should fall (converging on replacement level), and immigration itself should be reduced to an annual flow no greater than the number which would just replace immigrants who leave the United States.

In other words, the increasing economic distress many native-born Americans now face won’t help marriage and fertility.  And recent data show that Abernethy’s argument about immigrant birthrates was spot on.  For the massive wave of illegal immigrants who crashed onto American shores during the last four decades, life was better.  They came, they saw, they reproduced.

But they didn’t marry.  As Heather Mac Donald reported in City Magazine in 2006, the open-borders crowd really needs to stop crowing about the “family values” of Hispanics, given the explosion in illegitimacy that followed the tsunami of illegal immigration.  “Hispanic women have the highest unmarried birthrate in the country,” she wrote,

over three times that of whites and Asians, and nearly one and a half times that of black women, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Every 1,000 unmarried Hispanic women bore 92 children in 2003 . . . compared with 28 children for every 1,000 unmarried white women, 22 for every 1,000 unmarried Asian women, and 66 for every 1,000 unmarried black women.

Most of these illegitimate Hispanic children are Mexicans.  When Mac Donald penned her article, the teen birthrate for Mexican immigrants to the United States was 93 births per 1,000 girls.  Those numbers did not improve in 2006, as data from the National Center for Health Statistics show.  Nearly 50 percent of births to Hispanic women in 2006 were illegitimate, which far outpaced the overall rate of illegitimacy of 38.5 percent.  The illegitimacy rate for black women is 70 percent, but the 2006 numbers on black and Hispanic illegitimacy don’t tell the story about how dreadful the Hispanic number is.  In 1990, the rate for Hispanic illegitimacy was 36.7 percent; for blacks 66.5 percent.  So Hispanic illegitimacy since 1990 has increased over 13 points to 49.9, while black illegitimacy increased just 3.5 points.

Mac Donald’s anecdotal evidence explains why Hispanics don’t care about marriage.  A doctor in Orange, California, said that Hispanic girls—again, mostly Mexicans—“view having a child at their age as normal.”  In addition,

teens’ parents view having babies outside of marriage as normal, too.  A lot of the grandmothers are single as well; they never married, or they had successive partners.  So the mom sends the message to her daughter that it’s okay to have children out of wedlock.

“Marriage is clearly no longer one of those family values” among Hispanics that the immigration enthusiasts keep telling us about, Mac Donald notes.  “But other kinds of traditional Hispanic values have survived—not all of them necessarily ideal in a modern economy, however.  One of them is the importance of having children early and often.”

As David Popenoe of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University wrote in “The Social Health of Marriage in America” (2007), Hispanic immigrants are unlikely to take

our culture in a more traditional direction. . . . Hispanics seem to have assimilated into the American culture of secular individualism more than the reverse.  For example, the unwed birth percentage among Hispanics has jumped from 19 percent in 1980 to 48 percent in 2005 and stands well above the percentage for the non-Hispanic White population (25 percent).  Hispanics have the same divorce rate as non-Hispanic Whites, and in recent years their rate of non-marital cohabitation has grown faster than that of any other immigrant group.  These trends contradict earlier expectations that Hispanics might bring this nation a new wave of family traditionalism.

These data point to an unpleasant but indisputable truth: Hispanics in the United States are prone to birthing bastards, and American taxpayers are footing the bill.

In spite of the grim statistics, Americans, particularly Hispanic immigrants, at least have the correct view about the nature of marriage, if the recent vote on Proposition 8 is any indication.  Still, the question remains: Why don’t Hispanics seem to care about marriage in practice?  One answer might be that neither American society at large nor their own families and communities expect them to.  The millions of illegal immigrants who surged across our borders during the last 40 years of sexual rebellion were, like so many native Americans, caught up in the orgy.

The rest of the country mirrors this trend.  Despite waning marriage and waxing illegitimacy rates, since 1998, anti-“gay marriage” amendments have passed in every state where they have appeared on the ballot, often by overwhelming margins.  Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin, like California, all went for Obama.  Yet all of them have passed marriage amendments since 2002.  Unsurprisingly, most of the states with marriage amendments were or are Red States, where marriage rates and fertility are higher and fewer couples shack up.  The higher rate of bastardy in Red States is attributable to blacks and Hispanics, as Popenoe shows.

So, despite uncontrolled immigration, the continued hard leftism of minorities, and the collapsing number of marriages and demands of organized buggery, most Americans—white, black, and Hispanic—still believe marriage is a union of one man and one woman.  A trace of normalcy remains.