Cohabiting parents vs. married parents

Twenty years ago, Vice-presidential candidate Dan Quayle gave a much-ridiculed speech in which he warned about the dangers of single-parenthood, specifically attacking the way it was becoming socially-accepted through the example of TV shows such as Murphy Brown.  Today, writes Isabel Sawhill in the Washington Post (no less), it is evident that Dan Quayle was right.

You should read what she has to say.  The evidence abounds that children do much better when their parents are married to each other.  She cites many interesting facts, such as this seemingly-easy-to-follow plan to avoid poverty:

If individuals do just three things — finish high school, work full time and marry before they have children — their chances of being poor drop from 15 percent to 2 percent.

One point she makes I found particularly striking.  She says that even when children are raised by both parents, the children do much better if their  parents are married, as opposed to just living together.  The reason this is so, she says, remains a mystery.

Why do you think this is the case?

 

via 20 years later, it turns out Dan Quayle was right about Murphy Brown and unmarried moms – The Washington Post.

Women who want a divorce

The Washington Post has an ongoing feature about “myths.”  Last Sunday the topic was Five myths about marriage.  As usual, the piece combined the interesting with the dubious.   What stood out for me the most was this factoid:  Two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women.

We also know that women are hurt by divorce, taking a big economic hit and often thrown into the pressures of single motherhood.  Still, lots of women consider it to be worth it.   Recognizing that there are different stories for each couple, can you venture some reasons why such a large percentage of divorces are initiated by women?

How fast they grow

This is Natalie, whose parents took a picture of her every day of her life, then animated the photos so as to show her reaching 10 years old in 1 minute 25 seconds.

Married to the state

Behind the rhetoric of “the war on women” and the “Julia” website is a strategy of Democrats to turn single women–sorry, unmarried women, I mean, “women on their own”–into the militant voting bloc that evangelicals are for Republicans.  While it is true that single mothers and divorced women are the most consistent  Democratic demographic, a funny thing happens when these very women get married:  They turn into Republicans.  So says Jessica Gavora in the Washington Post:

“The Life of Julia,” the Obama campaign’s new interactive Web ad, follows a cartoon everywoman, Julia, through the milestones of a middle-class American life: education, work, motherhood, retirement. One milestone is pointedly missing: marriage.

But, then again, why should Julia get married? She doesn’t need to. Like a growing number of single women with children, Julia is married to the state.

As a character drawn and focus-grouped by political consultants, Julia is designed to remind voters of the government programs President Obama champions and likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney is ostensibly intent on taking away. Julia goes to school (with help from Headstart and federal student loans), she works (thank you, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and Small Business Administration), she has a son (free health screenings brought to her by Obamacare) and she retires (Social Security and Medicare pay the bills while she volunteers in a community garden).

But Julia is a more artful and nuanced creation than a simple tour guide to the utopia that awaits under a second Obama term. She is designed to appeal to a narrow but deep demographic: single women, especially single women with kids.

In 2007, the United States passed a significant demographic milestone, when the census reported that the majority of American households were headed by unmarried people. It was the crest of a wave that had been building for some time. Since 1960, the percentage of the population that is over age 15 and unmarried increased from 32 percent to 45 percent. If this trend continues, singles (including unmarried people who are cohabiting) will make up the majority of Americans in less than 15 years.

And in this nation of swinging singles, women are dominant. . . .

Until the 2000 presidential election, Democrats generally wrote off the single female vote as not worth the effort. But in that razor-thin contest, strategists noticed for the first time that 22 million members of their most reliable cohort of voters did not go to the polls. If single women had cast ballots in the same proportions as married women, Al Gore probably would have received the punched chads of an additional 6 million voters, more than enough to have won him the White House.

The Democratic Party’s answer to this missed opportunity has been to attempt to make singlehood cool and fresh and new in an attempt to court this demographic. When focus groups told them that unmarried women regard the word “single” as a depressing term, strategists renamed them simply “unmarried” or, even better, “women on their own.”. . .

Whereas government benefits were once the state’s compassionate response to women who had lost their husbands, in Julia’s world they are the unquestionable entitlement of women who never married. The decline of marriage and Democratic political opportunism have combined to transform what used to be a situation to be avoided — single motherhood — into a new and proud American demographic, citizens of Obama’s Hubby State.. . .

Strategists talk breathlessly of unmarried women becoming for the Democratic Party what evangelical Christians are for the Republicans: a large, awakened, reliable force for liberal social change.. . .

The Democratic project to coax single women to the polls is given urgency by an interesting political fact: Although single women vote overwhelmingly Democratic, their condition is not permanent. According to the work of University of Chicago demographer Tom Smith, once divorced people remarry, they start to vote like married people again. In 2004, George W. Bush had a 12-point advantage over John Kerry among married people. Kerry won divorced voters by three points and separated and never-married voters by 35 percent and 25 percent, respectively. But among remarried voters, Bush was back on top by 15 percent. It seems something about the institution of marriage makes people vote Republican.

via Obama’s ‘Julia’ ad and the new Hubby State – The Washington Post.

Republicans are divided over gay marriage

Republicans are hesitant to make an issue over President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage, both because they aren’t sure what position is the winner politically and, more importantly, because the party itself is divided over the issue.  From The Washington Post:

Some top Republicans described a growing divide within the GOP, with most of the party’s elected leaders in step with the social conservative base by publicly opposing same-sex marriage but softening their tone to avoid alienating the moderate middle.

Some of Romney’s biggest financial backers — including Lewis M. Eisenberg, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman, and hedge fund managers Paul Singer and Daniel S. Loeb — have become public advocates for gay marriage, as have other Romney supporters, including former vice president Dick Cheney and former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

Behind the scenes, influential donors and top strategists are counseling Republican candidates to avoid hot rhetoric or stigmatizing gay people, fearing a potential backlash from voters, who, polling suggests, are fast growing more open to gay marriage.

Steve Schmidt, a strategist for John McCain’s 2008 campaign as well as Bush’s campaigns, said Obama’s announcement Wednesday drew attention to “deep division” within the GOP on the issue.

“This really spotlights a fissure in the Republican Party between the southern evangelical wing of the party — where they don’t mind government intrusion into the bedroom and into individuals’ private space — and the limited-government side of the party,” Schmidt said. “Looking back at this from 50 years in the future, people who are on the wrong side of this issue aren’t going to stand very well in history’s light.”

via GOP treads lightly on gay marriage issue – The Washington Post.

President announces his support for gay marriage

President Obama’s position on gay marriage has evolved to the point that he’s now all for it.  That’s what he told ABC News.

One reason he cited was his Christian faith.  “You know, we [his wife Michele and he] are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I’ll be as president.”

Will this help him or hurt him politically?  It would seem to bolster his progressive base, which has been somewhat disillusioned with him, while social conservatives are not likely to vote for him anyway.  Then again, support for gay marriage seems to be the cultural wave, with polls showing that more and more Americans are willing to change the very nature of marriage to accommodate homosexuals.

President Obama Affirms His Support for Same Sex Marriage | ABC News Blogs – Yahoo!.


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