It seems that America could use a genuine pro-family movement instead of hate groups using “family values” as a cover for their anti-gay activities.
According to the Census Bureau as reported in the New York Times:
• Married couples have dropped below half of all American households for the first time. Married couples represented just 48 percent of American households in 2010
• Just a fifth of households were traditional families – married couples with children – down from about a quarter a decade ago, and from 43 percent in 1950
• 37 states, plus the District of Columbia, in which married couples make up fewer than 50 percent of all households, up from just 6 states in 2000
• Rising income inequality has divided American society, making college-educated people less likely to marry those without college degrees. Members of that educated group have struck a new path: they marry later and stay married. In contrast, women with only a high school diploma are increasingly opting not to marry the fathers of their children, whose fortunes have declined along with the country’s economic opportunities.
• 41 states showed declines in traditional households of married couples with children. In 2000, married couples with children were fewer than 20 percent of all households in just one state, plus the District of Columbia. Now they are fewer than a fifth in 31 states.
The statistics are quite telling and perverse. In the name of saving marriage socially conservative groups helped elevate anti-gay Republicans, which enacted policies that led to great income disparity – which depresses marriage rates. Nice going, fundies!
This is similar to the way social conservatives try to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, which leads to unplanned parenthood and higher abortion rates. Or, how they promote abstinence-only programs in schools, which also backfire. It seems that right wing social engineering consistently boomerangs.
I think these new statistics are a good opportunity for “pro-family” groups to look in the mirror and realize that their politics have failed. Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council have obsessed about gay families at the expense of traditional marriage. If they had bothered to pull their noses out of our bedrooms and averted their eyes from our keyholes, they might have noticed the problem.
James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Brian Brown, and Maggie Gallagher have no one to blame but themselves for the disintegration of marriage in America. They wasted (and continue to throw away) gobs of time and money harming LGBT people – and ignored the challenges faced by the majority of working families.
Given the statistics and their professed aim to support families – one can only conclude that the leadership of these groups has been misguided, blinded by anti-gay bigotry, addicted to the money from anti-gay direct mail campaigns, or simply incompetent.
It is time for Focus on the Family and other such groups to refocus. Working to destroy our families has done little to promote family life for the majority of Americans. If they are looking for something to do, consider this:
The nation’s overall education spending grew at a slower pace in 2009 than at any other time in more than a decade, amid deepening state fiscal woes and flatter tax revenues, according to new census figures released Wednesday.
Less education equals less marriages, yet so-called “pro-family” groups have done everything in their power to vilify teachers, undermine public education, and promote home schooling.
The reason that conservatives keep making the same mistakes is because their ossified worldview is a rebellion against a knowledge-based society. A perfect example of this anachronistic mindset comes from playwright David Mamet who explained his rightward “intellectual” shift to The New York Times magazine. Here is how he became a right-winger:
“I went to a consultant a few years back, and he said, ‘You want to make your life better?’ I said, ‘Yeah, sure.’ He said, ‘stop drinking and don’t read the newspapers.’ So I did both.”
Well, there you go. The steps to becoming a conservative are giving up fun and no longer paying attention to the world. That way, you can rely on ignorance-based opinions and be unaware of facts. I think Mamet has the formula down.
It is fair to say that the entire “pro-family” enterprise is a scam that has been a complete failure. It has wasted millions of dollars, yet has little to show other than serving as an annoying speed bump for the rapidly advancing gay rights movement.
Can anyone not directly profiting from this “family values” scheme actually say that these anti-gay groups have helped the majority of American families? I didn’t think so.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”