lesbian couple
Melissa Ray and Natasha Vitali on their wedding day. Photo: Natalie Slade / NZ Herald

New Zealand’s first same-sex “marriage” is shaping up to become the country’s first same-sex divorce. Less than a year since they became the poster girls for the country’s new legal definition of marriage (last August) the NZ Herald reports that Melissa Ray, a former Ferns football player, and Natasha Vitali, a sales rep, are “believed to have split”.

The main source of the story appears to be Ms Vitali’s Facebook page on which the following poem appeared yesterday:

Drink it down, laugh it off,

Avoid the drama, take chances,

And never have regrets

Because at one point everything you did

Was exactly what you wanted.

When the Herald contacted her Ms Vitali said: “It’s not anyone’s business, we’ll just leave it at that, but thank you for calling.” And, “I’m not talking to you about my private life, we got enough coverage when we got married.”

It is well known that female partnerships break up more often than male – twice as much, according to a Scandinavian study cited by Jason Richwine in a recent National Review post:

The best study I’ve seen focused on Scandinavia, where same-sex civil unions — essentially marriages in everything but name — have been legal for about two decades. The authors had access to population-level administrative data that generated a sample size of over 1,500 same-sex unions. After controlling for age, region, country of birth, education, and duration of the partnership, male couples in Sweden were 35 percent more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples, and lesbian partners were over 200 percent more likely to divorce. Whether the couples had children made little difference in the relative rates.

Adding in male couples, Richwine says studies of unmarried cohabiter couples point in the same direction:

In the Netherlands, for example, researchers examined tax and population records to track the relationship status of filers, including 731 same-sex couples. The dissolution rate for unmarried same-sex couples was more than double the rate for unmarried opposite-sex couples.

A small study of British cohabiters found that, compared to married heterosexuals, opposite-sex cohabiters were 2.75 times as likely to break up within five years, whereas same-sex cohabiters were 5.25 times as likely as to end their relationship in that time.

It remains to be seen whether adding “marriage” to the options of same-sex couples improves the chances of lasting relationships. In that respect, the Ray-Vitali breakup is not a good omen.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet