Married to the State

Posted: Nov 07, 2013 12:00 PM

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) upset quite a few liberals last week, when she asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “A single male, aged 32, does not need maternity coverage. To be the best of your knowledge, has a man ever delivered a baby?”

Salon's Brian Beutler responded:

Ellmers is correct to observe that human males don’t gestate human children. Likewise, no human female, to the best of my knowledge, has ever developed testicular or prostate cancer. A big part of what the Affordable Care Act does is to recognize that treating cancer and bearing children are expensive but common things our society places a great deal of value on, and to defray the costs of doing them broadly, even if they’re sex-specific. It establishes the principle that women shouldn’t be financially penalized, by accident of birth, for having wombs.

This is all true, but what Beutler fails to mention is that prior to Obamacare, Western Civilization had developed a completely separate institution to help "defray the costs" of "expensive but common things our society places a great deal of value on" like childbearing. That institution, of course, is marriage.

Salon's Joan Walsh picked up on this theme later writing:

So how could [Ellmers] be so tone-deaf in attacking the way the ACA helps that increasingly elusive GOP constituency, female voters?

Because the right-wing base of the modern Republican Party is dedicated to restoring men as the head of the household, and the nuclear, husband-headed family as the principle social unit.


[I]f Ken Cuccinelli loses the Virginia governor’s race to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, as polls indicate is likely, he’ll do so because of the women’s vote. Republicans can’t win women because they’re still fighting a culture war to restore men to their “rightful” place as the head of the family and society. They’re profoundly uncomfortable with women’s autonomy – and that makes women voters increasingly uncomfortable voting Republican. Making Renee Ellmers the face of the backlash won’t help.

In the very simplest terms, Walsh was right about Cuccinelli. He did end up losing women, by a 51 percent to 42 percent margin.

But if you dig a little deeper, Cuccinelli actually won among an admittedly shrinking subset of women. Specifically, Cuccinelli won married women by a mirror image 51 percent to 42 percent margin (single women voted overwhelmingly for McAuliffe, 67 percent to 25 percent).

Married women appear to believe that the centuries old risk-sharing institution of marriage, suits them just fine. No government interference needed.

Walsh, and many of her single lady counterparts, on the other hand, apparently view marriage as an assault on "women's autonomy." They would prefer that the federal government protect them from the heightened expenses and risks of pregnancy and child birth.

Unfortunately, the decline of marriage as an institution, and the growing number of single households, signal that the Democrats are succeeding in replacing marriage with the state.

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