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by Cheryl Seal
Tuesday, Jun. 06, 2006 at 12:03 PM
This article was first published in July of 2003 when the US Senate first took the issue of a constitutional ban on gay marriage up as a diversion from deteriorating conditions in Iraq. And now, after three more years of the Bush cartel, it is even more relevant today.
In the debate over a Constitutional amendment to define marriage, Bush and the religious right would have you believe they are heroically fighting "to preserve the sacred institution upon which this country is based." But conspicuously absent from this phony "defense of marriage" is how this same sanctimonious bunch has systematically done everything in its power to undermine the institution..
Here are the 10 top ways Bush & Co. have assaulted "a union between a man and woman."
1. Failure to create jobs: Under Bush, not only have over 2 million jobs - a high percentage of them good jobs - been lost, but those who lose their jobs are remaining unemployed longer than at any other time since the Great Depression. Studies consistently show there is a strong relationship between unemployment, low income, and the breakdown of marriage. The chances of divorce is twice as high for familes where the husband is unemployed as in the general population. This rate increases dramatically when both spouses are unemployed. And, the divorce risk shoots up even more the longer either spouse remains unemployed.
2. Consistently opposing legislation that would make healthcare affordable and guaranteed to families, regardless of finances. Illness - always made worse by lack of medical care -places a strain on marriage. And the sad fact is, thousands of families across the nation have been forced to divorce, or the husband has been forced to appear to desert the family just to qualify for Medicaid. And, once divorced, either through stress or expediency, statistics show that health problems become even MORE likely to occur.
3. Consistently opposing efforts to raise the minimum wage and insure adequate worker benefits. As a result, many low-income people either cannot afford to marry, or, once married, spend most of their waking lives apart, working two, even three jobs - a prescription for marital problems. Even if not overworked, poverty takes the biggest single toll. Poor two parent families are TWICE as likely to divorce as more financially advantaged two parent families.
4. Consistently opposing efforts to insure affordable housing - and not just hard-to-qualify for federal loans, but rents that do not gobble up a huge percentage of a family's monthly income. Families crowded into tiny, inadequate apartments in poor neighborhoods, families suddenly evicted because they can't afford this year's whopping rent increase, families forced into bankruptcy because they are only one paycheck away from losing their house....these are all major stressors that commonly lead to divorce.
5. Reviving the "might is right" macho model and patriarchal ideas, along with the promotion of a divisive social environment where differences and dissent are not tolerated - the "With us or against us syndrome." Domestic violence has increased dramatically since 2000, especially in military families and - disturbingly - among college students, with an increasing percentage of perps being the "white male" that is so overempowered in BushWorld. In fact, we could better say that "White might is right" is the NeoCon slogan. Needless to say, domestic violence hardly lends itself to successful marriage.
6.. Systematic undermining of minorities, especially African Americans. Under the Bush-NeoCon regime, 20 years of gains in job opportunity, salary, and job security for blacks has been all but wiped out.The black unemployment rate is now steadily over 10%. Divorce rates, being commensurate with stress levels, are higher among blacks than other groups. One in three black children are in one-parent homes today.
7. Unfair and unpredictable extension of soldier tours. Thousands of military families are now stressed to the breaking point by Bush's continuing "Stop Loss" program. First, the war in Iraq needlessly tore families apart, and now that same mismanaged war is keeping families apart - often under abject conditions. The number of military families whose spouses are overseas who are now on foodstamps is climbing steadily.
8. Grievous injuries and PTSD: As any marriage counselor will tell you, it takes a remarkably strong marriage to withstand the emotional stress of dealing with unexpected disability (the number of parapalegics being produced by Bush's war is higher than for the Vietnam war) and with the devastating impact of PTSD. But, thanks to Bush and his "Christian Right Chickenhawks," that is just what tens of thousands of US soldiers and their wives will be dealing with - for years to come. A high percentage of these marriages are doomed to fail as a result.
9. Trying to overturn a women's right to choose. There are few things that will put more of a strain on a fragile marriage than the introduction of an unwanted child. Unwanted children are more likely to be neglected and abused than planned children, and their parents many times more likely to divorce. In the Repug fantasy of America, the unwanted child/failed family scenario would become unavoidable and routine.
10.. Abstinence only sex education. Every statistic every obtained on the issue shows that teen marriages forced into being by unwanted pregnancies are more likely to be plagued by domestic abuse and poverty than those for any other age group. Worse, the children of teen parents are more likely to be neglected and abused by their unprepared, stressed "child parents." Yet the Repugs refuse to fund adequate sex education programs that would prevent teen pregnancy. Recent studies of the abstinence only scheme shows that the strategy DOES NOT WORK. What it will produce long term is a bumper crop of teenage mothers and fathers who may feel forced to marry and contribute to the high rate of divorce, child abuse, and child neglect.
Yet, today (7/14/03) on the Senate Floor, using precious time that desperately needs to be spent on other pressing issues - not the least of which is correcting the above 10 problems, the Republicans tried to convince America that they were "upholding the sa'cred institution of marriage" . All while trying to tear another - the US Constitution - to shreds.
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