Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Real Threats to Traditional Marriage

The far right Christofascists would have one believe that it is gays and gay marriage that are threatening the institution of marriage.  A column in the New York Times makes a very clear case that the real threats lie elsewhere, especially for non-white minorities.  The Christofascists, of course, utterly ignore these exceedingly real threats preferring to raise money by shrieking about the threat of the "gay agenda."  If these folks were truly concerned about marriage rather than simply motivated by anti-gay animus, they would be working to address the problems identified in the column.  That they are not doing so speaks volumes both about the homophobia and racism of white Christofascists and their willing prostitutes in the Republican Party.  Here are column highlights:

We often hear that marriage is a panacea for our problems — as a nation as a whole, and especially for the black community, in which more than 70 percent of children are now born to unmarried women.

Less discussed are the societal factors contributing to this phenomenon.  . . . . most Americans — both whites and minorities — still believe in marriage, but there are factors working against marriage for many, factors that need to be acknowledged. One is mass incarceration. 

In the two decades preceding the Great Recession, the American prison population nearly tripled, according to the Pew Center on the States. And make no mistake: mass incarceration rips at the fabric of families and whole communities. 

According to the 2011 book “A Plague of Prisons” by Ernest Drucker, a public health expert:
■ “The risk of divorce is high among men going to prison, reaching 50 percent within a few years after incarceration.”
■ “The marriage rate for men incarcerated in prisons and jails is lower than the American average. For blacks and Hispanics, it is lower still.”
■ “Unmarried couples in which the father has been incarcerated are 37 percent less likely to be married one year after the child’s birth than similar couples in which the father has never been incarcerated.” 

Related to mass incarceration is the disastrous drug war, which essentially has become a war on marijuana waged primarily against young black men, even though they use the drug at nearly the same rate as whites.

Then there’s the Aid Elimination Provision of the Higher Education Act, a provision that took effect in 2000. It denied financial aid to students with drug convictions. A couple of years after it took effect, the American Civil Liberties Union called the law “unjust and counterproductive” and “both morally wrong and unconstitutional.” 

Researchers at Cornell found last year that the provision “had a large negative impact on the college attendance of students with drug convictions” — that students who were affected delayed college enrollment or were made “less likely to ever enroll in college,” among other things.

The [student] debt burden is having a significant impact on marriage. A survey published in May by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants showed that 15 percent of respondents delayed marriage because of student loan debt. 

Furthermore, for the poorest Americans, there are marriage penalties built into many of our welfare programs. As the Heritage Foundation has pointed out: “Marriage penalties occur in many means-tested programs, such as food stamps, public housing, Medicaid, day care and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. The welfare system should be overhauled to reduce such counterproductive incentives.”

In a report financed by the Department of Justice a decade ago, Donald Braman, a George Washington University law professor, argued, “For generations, social institutions from slavery and segregation to broadly punitive criminal sanctions have borne down unremittingly on poor and minority families and communities.” 

One can’t bemoan the breakdown of the family — particularly the black family — without at least acknowledging the structural and systematic forces working against its cohesion.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins, Bryan Fischer and the rest of the anti-gay hate merchants to say a word about any of these very real problems that should be addressed if one really is concerned about the "sanctity of marriage."

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