…And so were most of us. 95% of all Americans have had pre­mar­i­tal sex, accord­ing to a study (which was lon­gi­tu­di­nal, by the way) by the Guttmacher Institute.

The study, exam­in­ing how sex­ual behav­ior before mar­riage has changed over time, was based on inter­views con­ducted with more than 38,000 peo­ple — about 33,000 of them women — in 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2002 for the fed­eral National Survey of Family Growth. According to Finer’s analy­sis, 99 per­cent of the respon­dents had had sex by age 44, and 95 per­cent had done so before marriage.

This would tend to fly in the face of right-​​wing fanat­ics’ claims that pre­mar­i­tal sex is some­how aber­rant, abnor­mal or wrong; and of course it’s worth point­ing out that for the first hun­dred thou­sand years (at least) of our exis­tence as a species, every­one was hav­ing pre­mar­i­tal sex — because the “insti­tu­tion” of mar­riage hadn’t been invented.

Oh, and by the way, roughly 30% of the US pop­u­la­tion lays claim to right-​​wing fanat­i­cal beliefs. Yet accord­ing to Guttmacher, a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of those very peo­ple must also have engaged in pre­mar­i­tal sex:

Even among a sub­group of those who abstained from sex until at least age 20, four-​​fifths had had pre­mar­i­tal sex by age 44, the study found.

Apparently get­ting full of the Holy Spirit inures one to a sense of hypocrisy.

This might tend to sug­gest that mar­riage is less impor­tant to cul­ture than, say, writ­ing, or per­haps the con­trol of fire or the inven­tion of the wheel — but I sup­pose if you’re ass-​​backward enough to believe that Earth was built in six days, it’s not a big jump from there to mar­riage being the only impor­tant fac­tor in the mod­ern world, the only thing that needs active protection.

After all, it’s not as though there’s an active geno­cide cam­paign tak­ing place some­where in the world right now that we could help defray; it’s not like there are starv­ing or home­less peo­ple any­where in the US who need help right now; our land is absolutely full of well-​​fed, well-​​educated and well-​​looked-​​after cit­i­zens who want for noth­ing and have uni­ver­sal access to the best health care in human his­tory, free of charge.

So obvi­ously it’s mar­riage that we really need to worry about, since all our other prob­lems have been solved.

The study tends to reflect poorly on the Bush pol­icy against sex:

The data clearly show that the major­ity of older teens and adults have already had sex before mar­riage, which calls into ques­tion the fed­eral government’s fund­ing of abstinence-​​only-​​until-​​marriage pro­grams for 12– to 29-​​year-​​olds,” [study author Lawrence] Finer said.

Of course, Bush’s spokes­droids are quick to deny cul­pa­bil­ity in push­ing abstinence-​​only edu­ca­tion, even though they’ve been doing it for more than half a decade already:

Wade Horn, assis­tant sec­re­tary for chil­dren and fam­i­lies at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defended the abstinence-​​only approach for teenagers.

One of its val­ues is to help young peo­ple delay the onset of sex­ual activ­ity,” he said. “The longer one delays, the fewer life­time sex part­ners they have, and the less the risk of con­tract­ing sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted disease.”

He insisted there was no fed­eral mis­sion against pre­mar­i­tal sex among adults.

Absolutely not,” Horn said. “The Bush admin­is­tra­tion does not believe the gov­ern­ment should be reg­u­lat­ing or stig­ma­tiz­ing the behav­ior of adults.”

Really. So the anti-​​gay mar­riage amend­ments are … what, exactly?

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