The attack on the institution of marriage is not only the biggest cultural but also the biggest fiscal issue of our times, and political and judicial attacks by gays are only part of the problem. Marriage is being assaulted by unilateral divorce, feminist hostility toward marriage, the bias of family courts against fathers and the taxpayer-paid financial incentives that subsidize illegitimate births.
Forty-five years ago, a liberal in Lyndon Johnson's Labor Department, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, shocked the nation with a report called "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." The Great Society's welfare handouts to women were breaking up black families by making husbands irrelevant.
Since the Moynihan Report, out-of-wedlock births in the United States have grown to 72.3 percent for blacks, 52.5 percent for Hispanics and 28.6 percent for whites (non-Hispanic). For the population as a whole, out-of-wedlock births have risen from 6 percent in the 1960s to 40.6 percent today.
Sounding a Moynihan-style alarm today is Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation. He has assembled figures from U.S. Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control data, and they are downright scary.
This is not, as Moynihan indicated, merely a black problem, and it's not just a cultural problem, as the RINOs (Republicans in Name Only, the fiscal conservatives who disdain social issues) like to portray it. It's a very big money problem because the government is transferring nearly $1 trillion in taxpayer-funded handouts to the 40 percent of Americans who rely on government for all or part of their living expenses.
The crux of this problem and its costs is that a lack of marriage causes poverty. The poverty rate for single parents with children is 36.5 percent, while it is only 6.4 percent for married couples with children.
We just suffered the largest increase in government-designated poverty: 3.7 million more Americans moved into the "poor" column in 2009. The number of Americans receiving food stamps just rose to a record 41.8 million.
Barack Obama's solution for the poverty problem is more redistribution of money from taxpayers to the poor. But there's no evidence that more money is the remedy because we've been increasing handouts every year, and the problem keeps getting worse.
Contrary to a lot of chatter, this isn't a teenage problem (only 7.7 percent of new single moms are minors), and it isn't a failure of birth control, and it isn't the accidents of unplanned pregnancies. These single moms want their babies and confidently expect Big Brother to provide for them.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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