It All Begins At Home

During the 1850’s Frederick Douglass had a series of conversations with white slave owners about how slavery would affect generations to come.

It was during one of these dialogues that he penned the words, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”  One could also offer this corollary, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair a broken society.”

Even though they were penned well over 150 years ago, these words still ring true today. As we mourn a broken society made up of broken men, we should turn our eyes to take the long view. To repair our nation, we should focus our efforts on our homes and the institutions that directly impact our children.  Raising the next generation of strong children is the best way to repair our broken society.

In fact, you could safely assume that this now famous quote is Biblically-based. Proverbs 22:6 says something strikingly similar: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

The Bible gives parents a process on how to properly instill Biblical values in their children. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Scripture commands us to “build strong children” and to raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In the above passage, parents are commanded to keep God’s law always on their hearts and to instruct their children in the teachings of the Bible. God first commands that parents should discuss Scripture at home with their children. This is because the primary education of every child starts in the home. Whether intentionally or unconsciously, all parents teach their children by example, and the home environment lays the foundation for every child’s development.

God wants parents to be deliberate with their time and conscious of their example and make sure that their children are raised with a proper understanding of God’s Word. In ancient Israel, the primary mode of transportation was walking; much time was spent traveling from one place to another. Today’s equivalent would be when you are driving somewhere with your family. The Bible teaches that parents should make use of the time to discuss the teachings of Scripture.

Finally, God teaches that parents should teach their children about the things of God “when you lie down, and when you rise.” Simply put, God says to set aside a time each morning to take a bit and read the Bible to your children. Additionally, God says to take some time as you prepare for bed or assist your children with their bedtime preparations to think of the precepts and principles of Scripture.

Teaching your children about Scripture will take discipline, but the Bible promises that even a rebellious child cannot outrun or forget the principles instilled by faithful parents.

And strong children grow to be healthy men and women, leading a healthy and strong society.

Josh Denton is a contributing writer for Family Policy Institute of Washington.

Atlanta Follows Seattle’s Lead by Installing Permanent Rainbow “Pride” Crosswalks

Add Atlanta, Georgia, to the list of cities with rainbow crosswalks celebrating LGBT pride.

After 20,000 people had signed a petition in support of making temporary rainbow crosswalks permanent, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced last week that the city would oblige their request.

Atlanta isn’t alone in sporting “pride”-themed crosswalks. Seattle was one of the first cities to install permanent rainbow crosswalks, which were unveiled by Mayor Ed Murray two years ago during Pride Week. It cost the city—whose politicians often complain that they don’t have enough money to provide supposedly essential services to citizens—at least $66,000 to paint the eleven crosswalks.

The crosswalks are intended to showcase the historic role played by the LGBT movement in Seattle. Murray told reporters at the time that the crosswalks show that Seattle is a “tolerant and accepting city.” This is the same “tolerant and accepting” Seattle that has banned minors and their parents from seeking biblically based therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction.

Several other cities across the country also have permanent rainbow crosswalks, and many more temporarily paint their crosswalks multicolored in support of annual Pride festivals.

Supporters say rainbow crosswalks recognize the important contributions of the LGBT community.

Critics believe the crosswalks celebrate alternative lifestyles that many taxpayers don’t support. The homosexual lifestyle has been “associated with negative physical and psychological health effects” and is “harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large,” according to social scientists.

It’s ironic that many of the strongest supporters of rainbow crosswalks oppose nativity scenes and other symbols of faith on public property because they worry government might give the impression it “endorses” those views, yet they don’t bat an eye at cities erecting rainbow crosswalks in praise of the LGBT movement and alternative sexual lifestyles.

Should cities endorse the LGBT movement by using public funds to finance rainbow crosswalks celebrating LGBT pride? Let us know in the comments below.

Are We “Worthless Pieces of Trash”?

Colleges and universities are widely known to be hotbeds of liberal progressivism, but one public university administrator’s recent comments about supporters of traditional marriage are beyond the pale.

Andrew Bunting, George Mason University’s Senior Assistant Director of Admissions, shared his feelings about supporters of traditional marriage, calling them “worthless pieces of trash.”

The incident began last week when Bunting shared on Facebook a blog post written by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a grassroots organization that advocates for traditional marriage.

The blog post shares NOM’s desire to work with the Trump administration to protect religious liberty, nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court, overturn President Obama’s gender identity directives, and oppose efforts to redefine marriage.

Commenting on the blog post, Bunting parroted the Southern Poverty Law Center’s claim that NOM is a “hate group.”

He went on to write, “If you agree with [NOM about traditional marriage] then that is your opinion. Just know that to the rest of us, you are a worthless piece of trash.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a far-left political group known for designating as a hate group any organization that supports traditional marriage. According to SPLC, mainstream, pro-family organizations like the American Family Association, Family Research Council, and Liberty Counsel (Liberty University) are “extremist, anti-LGBT hate groups.”

Bunting’s comments reveal what Campus Reform has termed “liberal privilege” on college campuses. This “liberal privilege” on college campuses is evidenced by the way students who share conservative ideas are maligned and punished by professors and administrators, most of whom are radically progressive and many of whom are openly Marxist.

The groupthink on college campuses has gotten so bad that the conservative perspective often isn’t even shared with students. Conservative speakers are often disinvited from campus events, if they’re even invited at all. If conservatives do make it onto campus, they’re often verbally and physically abused by protesters comprised of students and faculty.

With college administrators like Bunting making incendiary comments disparaging half of the U.S. population, it’s no wonder that conservative students fear retaliation from liberal professors and administrators.

Additionally, given Bunting’s senior position in George Mason University’s admissions department, prospective students who happen to be conservative are probably left wondering whether they are welcome on campus, and if their political views will affect their admissions chances or opportunities for scholarships.

Bunting’s comments are even more troubling because GMU is a Virginia state public university. So far, it doesn’t look like he’ll be fired, despite his comments dehumanizing those who believe in traditional marriage.

Andrew Bunting’s views are representative of those held by college administrators in schools all over the country. Knowing that this is the predominant ideological perspective on most college campuses, it’s unsurprising that college students at the University of Washington and Seattle University say things like this and this.

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and 2016 Research Fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington. He can be reached at

Just Like Roe, Marriage Isn’t Settled

In his first interview since winning the presidential election, President-elect Donald J. Trump assured the American people that he won’t advocate reversing the Supreme Court’s decision last year requiring states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Speaking with CBS News correspondent Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes, Donald Trump indicated that his administration will abandon efforts to overturn the controversial Obergefell decision. The news media has interpreted Trump’s support for same-sex marriage as a sign that the conservative movement has surrendered on the contentious issue.

“I’ve been a supporter [of the LGBT group],” Trump said in the interview this past Sunday. “[Marriage equality] is already settled. It’s law… These cases [regarding same-sex marriage] have gone to the Supreme Court, they’ve been settled, and I’m fine with that.”

In Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the Supreme Court interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment as requiring states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Court’s decision to force states to give equal treatment to same-sex marriages “has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in his dissent. “Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be…. Five lawyers have closed the debate [about same-sex marriage] and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law.”

While President-elect Trump may be willing to accept the unconstitutional edict from the Supreme Court, Republicans and conservative Christians shouldn’t abandon efforts to restore traditional marriage.

Conservatives know that laws encouraging traditional nuclear families – consisting of a father, a mother, and their children – strengthen communities.

Furthermore, numerous sociological studies indicate that children raised within intact traditional families are healthier and happier. These children are also more likely to become successful, well-adjusted adults.

Our laws should reflect this social and biological reality. Just as our laws affirm that adultery and polygamy corrode the natural order and weaken families, so too should our laws reflect the truth that normalizing homosexual relationships isn’t conducive to maintaining a healthy society.

When trying to determine which approach should be used to oppose same-sex marriage, conservatives should be careful to avoid the pitfalls that derailed the movement against no-fault divorce. As states began adopting no-fault divorce laws during the 1970s and 1980s, many on the religious right articulately defended the sanctity of covenantal marriage, warning about the harm to children and communities caused by broken families.

Over time, however, the movement abandoned its role as prophet, conceding the issue of no-fault divorce to those who contended for the legal ability to divorce their spouse for any number of personal reasons. As religious conservatives began backing away from the issue, more states passed no-fault divorce laws, contributing to the near 50% divorce rate among married couples today.

Instead, conservatives concerned about the sanctity of marriage should mimic the tactics of the pro-life movement. Despite the monumental legal loss of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), people of faith have remained steadfastly opposed to the abortion on demand. Pastors, priests, and layman alike have lovingly explained how the inherent dignity of human life, created in the image of the Creator, disallows the notion that a mother has the right to choose to end her pregnancy. Likewise, researchers have published scientific studies detailing the capability of unborn babies to feel pain.

By mobilizing churches and congregations to advocate pro-life policies despite early legal losses, the pro-life movement has made significant gains over the last couple decades. In the wake of Obergefell, Christians should follow the model of political activism and social persuasion that has been so effectively utilized by the pro-life movement.

So here’s the bottom line, conservatives: Don’t give up on the sanctity of marriage just because the Republican in the White House refuses to get involved in the fight. We must continue agitating for a political order that better reflects natural law and the reality of the human experience, even when it’s not politically expedient. Sociologists, psychologists, other researchers should continue publishing empirical studies detailing how same-sex marriage adversely affects couples, children, and communities.

Marriage isn’t a lost cause. Although it may seem like society – including some prominent Republicans – is accepting the falsehood that same-sex marriage is a normal and healthy family arrangement, we must remain faithful to the truth, recognized for thousands of years, that marriage between one man and one woman forms the basis for resilient communities and healthy families.

Just like Roe v. Wade isn’t settled, marriage isn’t settled, either.

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and 2016 Research Fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington. He can be reached at

Statistics Show Delaying Marriage Hurts Families, Incomes

Not only are married men healthier and happier than their single peers, but statistics show they are also more financially successful.

“Becoming a husband means growing up, making a transition from prolonged semi-adolescence to true male adulthood,” says Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow in Domestic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation and the author of a study exploring the relationship between marriage and poverty in America.

Holding other variables constant, men earn 0.9 percent higher wages for each year they are married. After being married for ten years, husbands earn 17 to 20 percent more than unmarried peers with the same characteristics.

These statistics reveal an economic phenomenon that economists have termed the marriage premium. Entering into marriage seems to cause men to be more productive and receive higher earnings, after controlling for variables such as the unemployment rate, age, race/ethnicity, education, and mother’s characteristics.

Men who delay or forego marriage lose out on the marriage premium. For each year that a man resists tying the knot, he falls further behind his married peers professionally and financially, sacrificing the significant bump in wages and productivity that he would have received otherwise.

The effect of the marriage premium on a man’s financial condition becomes more pronounced over time. After decades of receiving the 0.9 percent annual increase in wages that is caused by entering into marriage, married men are often making tens of thousands of dollars more per year than their single peers.

Even less-educated men benefit from the marriage premium. The marriage premium among married men with a high school diploma or less is at least $17,000. This helps substantiate conclusions from Brookings Institution researchers that indicate getting married is more effective in preventing and reducing poverty than getting more education.

Many millennials want to wed but are delaying marriage until they have achieved financial security. However, the marriage premium phenomenon seems to indicate that marriage allows for the financial security millennials are seeking.

Marriage also has a strong effect upon poverty. A 2003 study released by the Brookings Institution found that the poverty rate would be reduced from 13 to 9.5 percent if the marriage rate among families had remained unchanged from 1970 to 2001.

Why does the marriage premium exist? Married men are healthier and happier. They tend to live more stable lives, move less often, and demonstrate more responsibility. Their wives provide them with emotional support and professional advice, as well as support around the house. All of these characteristics make for better employees that are more productive at work and highly valued by employers.

The idea that young adults should pursue financial stability before getting married increases the likelihood of poverty and makes it more difficult for men to achieve financial success.  The marriage rate among millennials is significantly lower than previous generations, and fewer young adults are getting married than ever before. As long as this trend continues, men will continue to suffer from missing out on the marriage premium.

Men do better when culture promotes marriage. Families are more resilient when men are healthy, happy, and professionally successful – and marriage is the ideal first step.

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and 2016 Research Fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington.  He can be reached at

U.S. Senator Pressuring Court to Allow a Father to Marry Adopted Son

A Pennsylvania man has petitioned a county court to annul the adoption of his adult son so that the two can legally marry.

The man, Nino Esposito, adopted his son-turned-fiancé, Roland Bosee, Jr., three years ago, claiming that adopting the man would save money on inheritance taxes in Pennsylvania.  Esposito and Bosee were previously in a same-sex relationship and opted for adoption in lieu of marriage because marriage had not yet been redefined.   They are now interested in dissolving the adoption in favor of a marriage, but an Alleghany County Judge has ruled that there is no legal means to dissolve an adoption in Pennsylvania unless there is fraud involved.

Nino Esposito (L) and Roland Bosee Jr., (R) pictured.

Nino Esposito (L) and Roland Bosee Jr., (R) pictured.

Enter U.S. Senator Bob Casey.

In a letter written to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Senator Casey asked the Obama Administration to intervene to set forth “guidelines” on how to handle cases like these, encouraging the White House to be “creative” in devising a response that is respectful of the reality that adoption laws are passed at the sole discretion of individual states.

This is the first effort in what is expected to be many efforts to reshape adoption policy to cater to same-sex couples after the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling last summer.

Some argue that this arrangement was just a workaround for tax purposes, but the case has undeniable implications for other, more conventional, familial relationships. What will be the government’s response when a biological father wants to marry his son?  Or if any adopted parent wants to marry his or her child the day they turn 18?

After all, love is love.

Changing the law to allow fathers to marry their legally-adopted sons is a troubling precedent to say the least.

The lower court’s decision has been appealed and is expected to be heard by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Kim Davis and the Rule of Law

Yesterday, a woman named Kim Davis went to jail.

She is a Court Clerk in Rowan County Kentucky where it is her job, among other things, to issue marriage licenses. Recently, the Supreme Court invented a constitutional right to marry someone of the same gender, but, as a recent convert (four years she says) to Christianity, Ms. Davis believes same-sex “marriage” is wrong.

Therefore, she refused to issue the licenses.

There have been lots of similar situations.

Businesses who do not wish to participate in a same-sex “marriage” ceremony are sued.

Private sector employees like Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla, have been forced out of their jobs for supporting the idea that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.

Public sector employees like Kelvin Cochran, the former fire chief from Atlanta, have been fired for those same beliefs without any accusation of mistreating employees or discriminating against anyone.

But Kim Davis’ situation is different because she holds elected office. She doesn’t have a boss who can fire her. A court ordered her to issue same-sex “marriage” licenses but she refused. So yesterday, she was sent to jail for contempt of court.

Despite the insistence from the left that the redefinition of marriage would have no impact on religious freedom, many see this story as just further evidence of freedoms being lost.

The left, however, has moved away from pretending to care about freedom of religion. They now express full-blown, outrage at the idea that people shouldn’t lose their freedom if they don’t support same-sex “marriage”. After all, who needs freedom of conscience when you can have tolerance and equality?

In Kim Davis’ case, however, their outrage is a little different. They aren’t simply outraged that she doesn’t like same-sex “marriage”, they are outraged by her shocking disregard for the law.

Shocking, I tell you.

Suddenly, the progressives are organizing lectures to remind the world that our system of government is predicated on our laws being enforced equitably, regardless of the preferences of the individuals. Even Hillary Clinton got into the act this week tweeting that, “Marriage equality is the law of the land. Officials should be held to their duty to uphold the law-end of story.”

And you thought Animal Farm was satire.

Of course their point about the importance of the rule of law is a good one. But given the context of the Kim Davis controversy, it seems a brief lesson in the history of same-sex “marriage” is in order.

  • Once President Obama finished his evolution on marriage, the U.S. Department of Justice, whose job it is to defend the laws of the United States in Court, refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.
  • In 2013, D. Bruce Haines, an official in Montgomery County Pennsylvania, started issuing same-sex “marriage” licenses when the law did not permit it.
Apparently the concern with strict adherence to marriage laws is a new passion of progressives.

“We’ve progressed,” they insist. “The law has changed to be good so we care about the rule of law now.”

About that.

Let’s remember how this new “law” was actually changed. Was it lawful?

The states did not come together with Congress in the constitutionally prescribed manner to amend the constitution and change the law for the whole nation. While a few states actually did use the democratic process to redefine marriage, the vast majority (thirty-eight) had a new definition forced upon them by judges who liked the new definition better than the old one.

When the Supreme Court invented a constitutional right to marry someone of the same gender in Obergefell, they overturned their own precedent from Windsor less than two years previously when they said states had the right to define marriage for themselves.

Whatever that is, it’s not the rule of law.

It’s not just about marriage laws either.

Did you know that it’s illegal for teachers to strike in Washington State? Doesn’t seem to stop them.

Or how about sanctuary cities who advertise the fact that they ignore state and federal laws on immigration?

The Supreme Court did what they thought was the right thing to do despite what the law said and Kim Davis is doing the same. Kim Davis is no more lawless than half of Washington DC, she just has less powerful friends.

We may have never fully left the world in which might makes right, but our desire to bear-hug might, because we like what it is doing so much, seems to be a new impulse.

Love or hate the result, but be intellectually honest enough to lose the indignation.

If you punch someone in the face, you may end up winning the fight. But no one is going to take you seriously if you ask, “How could you?” when they try to punch you back.

New Boy Scout Policy Makes Host Church Liable?

Yesterday, the Nation Board of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) ended their ban on gay leaders.

This brings up concern for churches who host BSA meetings in their facilities. The Mormon Church voiced concern over the new policy and was able to come to an agreement with the BSA and the new membership policy.

Under the new policy, any church who hosts BSA meetings and believe marriage is between a man and a woman will be able to choose the leaders for their local units. They can choose leaders who share their beliefs on marriage and can “[restrict]…positions to heterosexual men”.

But does the new policy make host churches liable?

The answer might be yes.  Now that the Boy Scouts are taking a position contrary to the biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality, churches who partner with the BSA might be exposing themselves to additional liability

Here is a resource that outlines the legal ramifications to churches from the new BSA membership policy.

Other resources available for churches is the Alliance Defending Freedom Protecting Your Ministry guidebook and the FPIW Protect Your Ministry meetings.

Throughout the summer and fall, FPIW is hosting Protect Your Ministry meetings all over the State to  help churches and ministries better prepare for potential lawsuits as a result of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage. You can read more about the meetings here and find out when there will be a meeting near you.

Christian Ministries: How to Protect Them From Lawsuits

Are you a pastor or ministry leader?  Are you unwilling to compromise your beliefs about marriage, gender, and sexuality but concerned about the legal liabilities that might result?

If that’s you, we want to help.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision to redefine marriage for the entire country has many pastors and ministries leaders worried about how this will impact their ministry.  And for good reason.  During arguments before the Supreme Court, U.S. Solicitor General said that maintaining tax exempt status is “going to be an issue” for non-profits that hold to the natural and historical understanding of marriage.

While there is risk in a changing world, there are also steps you can take to protect the ministry you care about from lawsuits.


Alliance Defending Freedom published a small booklet titled Protecting Your Ministry From Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Lawsuits with the sole purpose of equipping pastors, ministry leaders and Christian school faculty with the necessary tools to better protect their churches, ministries, or schools.

The Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW) is taking this booklet one step further. FPIW is setting up meetings all over Washington State to help pastors and ministry leaders better protect their ministry from future sexual orientation and gender identity lawsuits. These meetings will be based on ADF’s Protecting Your Ministry booklet, but will also discuss how to be more proactive in the legislative process in Washington State.


Topics Include:

  • Statement of Faith
  • Religious Employment Criteria
  • Formal Membership Policy
  • Marriage Policy
  • Facility Use Policies
  • Religious Mission Statement
  • Code of Christian Conduct
  • And Much More


These meetings are free! All we ask is that you let us know if you are planning on attending (register here).

Several meetings are scheduled, but more dates and times will be announced in the following cities in the near future.  Click here to see if any meeting will be in an area near you.

If you are interested in hosting a Protect Your Ministry meeting in your community, let us know.  We’d love to work with you!


Seven Reasons Not To Privatize Marriage

John Stemberger is an Orlando Attorney who is President of the Florida Family Policy Council.

The libertarian wave gaining momentum in America has brought powerful arguments to reduce the size of government, eliminate the national debt, and lower taxes. All are goals which conservatives would heartily agree with. But while some libertarian ideas have contributed strength to the body politic in America, the movement has also brought some ideas that would have destructive and unintended consequences.

One of those ideas is summarized in the phrase “Get government out of the marriage business”. This saying is consistent with much libertarian thought which argues for an unfettered “liberty” to engage in any consensual sexual activities people choose without government regulation or interference.

The idea of privatizing marriage by reducing the relationship to merely private contracts, maybe on file with the state, seems to have been introduced largely in response to the same-sex marriage controversy. Many politicians appear to be using the idea as a “solution” or a political “way out” of the controversy. While there are some serious minded people advocating for the idea, truth be told, the vast majority of proponents are using it merely as a convenient political shield attempting to deflect criticism taking a stand on the issue.

There are at least seven reasons why “marriage privatization” would be damaging to the future of a civil society.

1) Private “relationship contracts” would immediately legitimize and permit polygamy, group marriages, incest and other aberrant relationships. Harvard-educated anthropologist Stanley Kurtz has written that marriage privatization would be a “disaster”. He argues that government “still has to decide what sort of private unions merit benefits… under this privatization scheme”, and that “we also get the same quarrels over social recognition that we got before privatization.” He commented that the government will have to deal with polygamous, polyamorous, and incestuous relationships also attempting to obtain contracts under the new scheme as well as attempts by heterosexual acquaintances to make “marriages of convenience” to obtain things such as spousal medical insurance. Legitimizing these aberrant relationships would only serve to further dilute the meaning and significance of natural marriage in society as a desired institution.

2) Abolishing marriage laws could increase the sexual exploitation of children through human sex-trafficking. Marriage laws which currently regulate the age at which a person can be married protects children from human sex-slavery or even desperate parents from certain impoverished countries who may seek to exploit or manipulate minor children into “arranged” marriages for financial gain.

3) Relationship contracts would overburden courts with rising litigation disputes and would side-step legal protections for children and abandoned spouses replacing them with court ordered damages, penalties and state-coerced action. If a legislature repealed marriage statutes and did nothing to define or regulate the creation and or dissolution of marriages, then by default, parties would be left with only using legal contracts to address child custody, visitation, alimony, and property rights. If the parties breached these private contracts, litigation would ensue regarding the intent, interpretation, and enforcement of those agreements—many of which would likely be drafted by non-lawyers with vague and confusing terms. Courts would issue penalties, damages and specific performance ordering private parties to enforce contracts often with draconian results. Real-life economic and practical hardships would befall untold thousands of single mothers where men abandon their families – or even take forcible physical custody of small children– where no such contract was in place.

The creation of plural marriage and group marriage contracts would add further to the uncertainty of this new “wild-wild-West” of legal results. These “prenuptial-like” marriage contracts would also further undermine the idea of marriage as a lasting, life-long covenant, serving to further weaken and destabilize society. Instead of keeping government out of the marriage business, this move would do just the opposite. The great irony of marriage privatization is that it would only increase the state’s involvement in the lives of her citizens.

4) This solution is by adults, for adults, and ignores what’s best for children. Arguments to privatize marriage, whether made by scholars or politicians, are never discussed in terms of what is best for children. Jennifer Roback Morse, a libertarian author and scholar with the Witherspoon Institute, is a critic of marriage privatization and argues that the logic of marriage privatization “at the expense of children, is a concept developed by adults that will benefit only adults.”

In the common law, whenever children are involved in divorce, custody disputes, adoption or dependency proceedings, the legal standard has always been “what is in the best interest of children?” As in the same sex marriage debate, when personal autonomy meets the best interests of children, courts routinely allow “adult desires” to trump what’s best for children. Deregulating marriage law would have the same effect. When men divorce the mothers of their children without these private agreements, single mothers would be left with no laws to protect or support their children.

5) The consequences could further sink our society into new depths of social maladies, broken families, and human suffering. Throughout history, marriage has been always been regulated. When societies were cohesive or small, marriage has been regulated by strong social mores, by religious institutions, or by cohesive cultural norms. In more diverse and modern societies, marriage has been regulated through law and public policy. This is part of what separates civil societies from more primitive ones. For this reason, completely deregulating marriage could be a sociological disaster.

Today’s inner cities are “Exhibit A” to the poverty, crime, fatherlessness, and devastation that emerges when marriage and family structures are weak, fragmented, or nonexistent. This measured collapse in inner cities would move even faster into every area of communities if marriage is legally abolished and reduced to private contracts.

6) The taxpayer’s costs resulting from family fragmentation and unwed childbearing would sky rocket under marriage privatization. National Review Columnist Maggie Gallagher has called marriage privatization a “fantasy” since “[t]here is scarcely a dollar that state and federal government spends on social programs that is not driven in large part by family fragmentation: crime, poverty, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, school failure, mental and physical health problems.” A study by the Institute for American Values concluded that the cost to U.S. taxpayers from family fragmentation as a result of divorce and unwed childbearing was $112 billion annually.

Sadly, the political left in America feeds on divorce, broken families, and unwed childbearing. Strong marriages and families help break the grip of an ever-growing socialist-leaning state, freeing her citizens from poverty to reach their fullest economic potential as creators of wealth rather than being chronic recipients of distributed wealth.

7) A free society with minimal government interference depends on legal norms for marriage, family structure, and child bearing. Government has a compelling interest in defining, regulating, and promoting marriage because of the self-governance it creates when children are socialized in this environment. At the most basic level, marriages—and the families they create—produce social order in homes, neighborhoods, states, and nations. Marriage channels masculine energy in socially productive ways, protects women, and increases almost every category of human flourishing. Research is clear that a married biological mother and father is objectively the optimal context for rearing children. Marriage benefits not just those in the relationships, but the businesses, economies, and communities around them. Marriages, and the families that flow from them, tend to produce more productive citizens who create wealth and contribute to society.

The failure of marriages and families has caused the rapid expansion of the welfare state, dramatic tax increases, and has contributed to increasing the national debt. Roback Morse argues “[i]t is simply not possible to have a minimum government and a society with no social or legal norms about family structure, sexual behavior, and childrearing. The state will have to provide support for people with loose or nonexistent ties to their families. The state will have to sanction truly destructive behavior, as always. The destructive behavior will be more common because the culture of impartiality destroys the informal system of enforcing social norms… A free society needs marriage.”

In conclusion, it is important to realize that marriage is not merely a private, religious institution; it is also a public institution deserving of public protection. It is remarkable how many educated people believe that defining and regulating marriage cannot be justified in any other way than citing to the Bible or some religious authority. Many young people view efforts to legally define marriage as illegitimately advancing a purely theological doctrine. Therefore marriage is commonly misunderstood as an exclusively Christian belief rather than a necessary and universal human institution. Marriage serves not only people of faith but also the common good of society. Princeton professor Robbie George states, “Family is built on marriage, and government—the state—has a profound interest in the integrity and well-being of marriage, and to write it off as if it were purely a religiously significant action and not an institution and action that has a profound public significance, would be a terrible mistake”.

Removing the protection and regulation of marriage by law could be more destructive to the institution than anything we have seen to date. Reducing marriage to legal contracts would harm the future of marriage in culture and society. It could produce profoundly negative changes leading not just to the further damaging of this vital public institution, but also destructive to maintaining a civil society itself.


This article was originally published on The Stream on July 5, 2015