Opinions, background and happenings . . .
RSS icon Email icon Home icon
  • The Marriage WOW!

    Posted on July 11th, 2011 Terry 1 comment

    Normally I do not pay much attention to what Michelle Bachmann has mangled.  However, her promotion and signing of “The Marriage Vow” got my attention because it uses the appearance of science to pass along some awful and awfully dubious claims.  So, in the interest of good sociological research, here goes.

    The “Marriage Vow” proffers the opportunity for all elected (or soon-to-be-elected) official the opportunity to  “ . . . solemnly vow to honor and to cherish, to defend and to uphold, the Institution of Marriage as only between one man and one woman.”  It is promulgated by the Family Life Center, a rebranding of the Iowa Family Policy Center, which I know from personal experience receives federal funds to help families in need by foisting an often unwanted Christian worldview.  As a homeless man in my area to whom I frequently give rides once told me “Things are OK unless I get ‘helped’ by Christians.”    The IFPC campaigned against the re-election (successfully) of three Iowa Supreme Court justices when the Court decided that the legislation prohibiting gay marriage was unconstitutional (thus making Iowa one of the 6 states legalizing gay marriage).  Check out Andy Kopsa’s tracking of The Family Leader – “As Goes Iowa:  The Family Leader, Religious Politics and 2012.”

    Aside from its (hidden) ideological source, there is little problem here.  Anyone can pledge “solemnly” to their beliefs.  But when they want to make public policy on the basis of dubious data and misconstrued faulty research, then we have to treat it differently and sternly.

    Point #1

    From the PreambleFaithful monogamy is at the very heart of a designed and purposeful order – as conveyed by Jewish and Christian Scripture, by Classical Philosophers, by Natural Law, and by the American Founders – upon which our concepts of Creator-endowed human rights, racial justice and gender equality all depend.”

    Aside from the faith traditions emitted from this list, there is the personal habits of the Founding Fathers (e.g., Jefferson comes to mind) that suggest that perhaps “faithful monogamy” wasn’t one of their founding creeds; unless, of course, you weren’t privileged or wealthy, or male, or white.  Oh well, . . .  The cited and footnoted texts include the Genesis text on God making Eve out of one of Adam’s ribs (2:18-24), Mark’s record of the story against divorce (10:2-9) and Ephesians 5:22-33 wherein wives are told to submit to husbands and husbands are told to love their wives.  Based on these 3 citations it is tough to conclude as do the authors that “Faithful monogamy is at the very heart of a designed and purposeful order . . . upon which our concepts of Creator-endowed human rights, racial justice and gender equality all depend.”

    Point #2

    From the Preamble:  “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA‟s first African-American President.”

    A sadly a-logical slam at President Obama.  The citation for this conclusion that slave children were better off under slavery that a country presided over by an African-American is a study published in 2005 reviewing studies conducted 1990-2004, including the authors’ re-analysis of survey data from 1973-2002.  Note that all the data was likely collected well before Obama was elected, let alone before he actually assumed office. If you know academic publishing it is likely that a study published in 2005 was written in 2003, and, moreover, the study relies on data gathered well before Obama even declared his candidacy.  This lays bare the racist and ideological use of sociological research to create a false and distrustful picture of the President, as well as a nostalgic remembrance of when all was well on the plantation.

    Point #3

    From the Preamble:  LBJ’s 1965 War on Poverty was triggered in part by the famous “Moynihan Report” finding that the black out-of-wedlock birthrate had hit 26%; today, the white rate exceeds that, the overall rate is 41%, and over 70% of African-American babies are born to single parents a prime sociological indicator for poverty, pathology and prison regardless of race or ethnicity.

    This is a classic “gotcha!”   The underlying study upon which this assertion is based ignores the fact that the data is correlational, not causal.  First year stat students would shudder at this epistemological error.  Add to that the fact that this is a “webmemo” that reports no original research, and uses studies of 4, 6, 7, 8, 8, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 20, and 23 years ago.  Come to think of it, this takes us back close to Reagan, and certainly Bush I and Bush II.  I sense some other causal hypotheses lurking in the historical attic.  When Cheney declared that “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter” is this what he meant?

    Further the author labels those with whom he “debates” as “the Left” and “Liberals.”  Such straw man argumentation lays bare the author’s real agenda (as befits his publisher the Heritage Foundation) that being of good moral character trumps poverty or, given the author’s transitive logic, the poor do not have good moral character.

    For example,

    Marriage matters. But mentioning the bond between marriage and lower poverty violates the protocols of political correctness. Thus, the main cause of child poverty remains hidden from public view. And even when the Left reluctantly mentions the decline of marriage in low-income communities, most of what they say about it is untrue.

    This is followed by a triology of “liberals insist that . . .”, all of which the author dismisses as false.

    Further “the phrase ‘intact married family’ refers to the biological father and biological mother of the child united in marriage.”  None of this adoptive stuff, none of this family rearing, none of this gay partner stuff.  Given the constrictions of the definition of intact married family, factors such as the availability of birth control, family planning counseling, good paying jobs for women, a male-dominated social structure in which women must “submit” to their husbands (I guess defined as the biological father of her children), etc., all that is irrelevant, especially if espoused by a known Liberal.

    From the Preface:  Social protections, especially for women and children, have been evaporating as we have collectively “debased the currency” of marriage.

    At last . . . the culprit revealed!  Read the list below and see if you find anything about the defunding of Planned Parenthood, TANF, WIC, Medicaid, etc.

    This debasement continues as a function of adultery; “quickie divorce;” physical and verbal spousal abuse; non-committal co-habitation; pervasive infidelity and “unwed cheating” among celebrities, sports figures and politicians; anti-scientific bias which holds, in complete absence of empirical proof, that non-heterosexual inclinations are genetically determined, irresistible and akin to innate traits like race, gender and eye color; as well as anti-scientific bias which holds, against all empirical evidence, that homosexual behavior in particular, and sexual promiscuity in general, optimizes individual or public health.

    No?  The solution is simple—strong married men who stay at home!  To be fair, that is certainly part of it, but to assume the matter is closed when we get to character flaws is to rejuvenate a politically perverse Calvinism.

    There is much to discuss and consider when it comes to raising healthy, smart and energetic children.  Unfortunately “The Marriage Vow” plays fast and loose with data and dates, and uses deceit and trickery to reach a foregone conclusion rather than fostering a respectful and sober discussion of public policy.  But, then as I said, this is Michelle Bachmann and  . . .


    1 responses to “The Marriage WOW!” RSS icon

    • I’d say you left the Marriage Vow in the tatters it deserves. Personally, I am in favor of politicians taking a vow to make up their own minds based on evidence rather than resorting to ideologically based vows of any sort.

    Leave a reply