Romney must reclaim natural family as part of nation's identity and future

Posted: June 25, 2012

When he cast his lot last month with elites who want to reinvent marriage, President Obama thought he was riding the crest of history. Cheered on by the media and $15 million in campaign cash from Hollywood — both of whom consider his "coming out" on par with the Emancipation Proclamation — the president presumes "the people" are behind him.

Yet in fact, the man Newsweek declared our "first gay president" has confirmed how strikingly his priorities deviate from the vast majority of Americans, from the poor to the working and middle classes, as well as racial minorities and immigrants.

Granted, polls seem to suggest that Americans increasingly support the oxymoron of "same-sex marriage." But that perceived shift might actually be a projection by elites of their own wishes. Indeed, their accomplices in the legal guild — including state supreme-court justices and federal appeals-court judges — are the ones raising the greatest animus against existing laws, from state constitutions to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, that recognize marriage for what it is: the natural union of one man and one woman.

When it comes to the ballot box — the true barometer of American opinion — voters continue to reject attempts to deconstruct the marital estate, a social ideal critical to middle-class prospects. Not only have the people of 39 states voted to affirm marriage but also 30 of these electorates, including the most populous California and, just last month, North Carolina, have amended their state constitutions to restrain the government from deeming matrimony to be anything that judges, legislators, or even the president fancy it to be.

These voters, disproportionately African American and Hispanic, are neither bigots nor "antigay," favorite smears employed by the media; they simply do not want the law to mock Mother Nature by pretending that two women (or two men) who cohabit can be a bride and groom, husband and wife, or mother and father.

Rather than rallying with these "average Americans" — Theodore Roosevelt's term of endearment — on behalf of an already embattled institution, the president has sided with the cultural plutocrats here and in Europe who consider these voters unsophisticated yahoos who cling to their SUVs, guns, religion, and bourgeois morality.

Consequently, our Ivy-League president's latest "evolution" offers nothing for the people, only affirmation of a tiny fraction of the upper-income set. Census data indicate that "unmarried" same-sex couples account for about 515,000 to 551,000 households, a microscopic portion of the nation's 117.5 million.

Moreover, per a 2007 study of Census data published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, same-sex couples are better educated and have higher incomes than traditional households. Hardly segregated to the other side of the tracks, these privileged Americans are more likely to live in metropolitan than rural areas, and in fashionable Center City neighborhoods than in South Philadelphia or Kensington. Contrary to the illusions of an NAACP leadership increasingly out-of-touch with its own membership, theirs is no cause that can claim Rosa Parks a forerunner.

Had he a heart for common folk, Obama would be venting anxiety over the retreat from real marriage since 1970 — of which the clamor for same-sex unions is a symptom — a development that has diminished the prospects of huge numbers of working- and middle-class Americans. By casting millions of their children into fatherless households, the abandonment of married-parent families as the cultural norm has reduced educational and health outcomes, boosted annual welfare spending to nearly $1 trillion, and contributed to a myriad of social and economic ills.

Indeed, the unraveling of wedlock has stunted economic growth by slowing family formation while turning Camden into a basket case and impoverishing formerly viable Philadelphia neighborhoods like Fishtown.

Now that's a campaign issue worth talking about.

Unfortunately, the Republican nominee has yet to highlight these correlations. Recent comments and actions suggest that the strategy of Team Romney and the Republican National Committee is to remain mum on social issues and turn their guns on fiscal matters, unaware that the demographics of the American family may be the most important economic issue of our time.

Fearing elite scorn, party leaders seem especially nervous about standing with the people on the state ballot initiatives. Visiting the Tar Heel State last month, Mitt Romney said nothing about the 61 percent of North Carolinians who voted for marriage; nor did he broach the bankruptcy the country faces if marriage and fertility rates continue to tank.

The former Massachusetts governor ought to remember 2004, when similar ballot initiatives in 11 states — including the critical swing state Ohio — assured George W. Bush's reelection. Likewise, the GOP should greet referenda that boosted turnout and delivered bipartisan victories as gold: a baseline from which to forge a new political coalition. Indeed, no another model of grassroots activity has touched a deeper chord within the electorate that transcends party, race, and religion.

Given how Obama's miscalculation has created a political opening large enough to drive a Mack truck through, Republicans need to publicly align themselves with such a proven electoral winner, now facing Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington voters this fall. They should never let the public forget that the Democrats favor further family disintegration by their obsession with "gay marriage." And their front-runner should make it clear that the GOP stands for marriage plain and simple, without any adjectives.

Running on the pro-marriage theme, Romney could sprint to the goal line by reaching out to African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Muslim Americans — especially if he recruits the authentic voice of Mike Huckabee as his running mate, as I have suggested previously.

Such a strategy would redeem the GOP. When organized in 1854, the party's platform said little about economics but focused on combating polarizing issues that party founders considered "the twin pillars of barbarism:" slavery and a distortion of marriage called polygamy. In renewing that moral vision, Romney would endorse the aspirations of average Americans and, following Theodore Roosevelt, reclaim the natural family as indispensable to American identity — and our future.

Robert W. Patterson is editor of the public-policy journal the Family in America, and served as a welfare adviser in the Corbett administration. E-mail him at

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