Ben Johnson

The New York Times reports marriage leads to economic prosperity

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NEW YORK, July 19, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The definition of marriage has long been considered a religious or legal argument. However, a growing number of economists, journalists, and social researchers are concluding that getting and staying married is a key to economic prosperity and domestic tranquility.

This reality became the subject of a New York Times article entitled “Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do,’” which spanned nearly 3,900 words.

Citing a host of secular, liberal professors, the article came to the same conclusion as longtime apologists for traditional marriage: it’s not only good for the soul but also for one’s bank account.

Studies say skyrocketing rates of single parenthood account for some of the widening income gap between well-to-do and those who are struggling. Experts estimate new parenting trends account for anywhere from 10 percent (Harvard sociology professor Bruce Western) to 40 percent (Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute) of the differential.

Family marriage and childbirth patterns put families on “different trajectories,” according to Mindy Scott, a demographer with the research center Child Trends. Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist based at Johns Hopkins University, said, “It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged.”

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One reason is that married men who must provide for their family have greater incentive to be conscientious about their vocation.

Married men “enjoy an income premium of about 19 percent in the United States compared to their similarly credentialed peers,” said Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and professor of sociology at the University of Virginia. They “work about 160 hours more compared to their similarly credentialed peers after they transition into marriage in that first year of married life.”

“Men who get married and stay married tend to be better workers,” he said in a lecture delivered at Acton University, hosted by the Acton Institute in June. “They work harder; they work longer hours; they work more strategically; and as a consequence, they tend to earn more money.”

He added that marriage benefits both partners economically. “Women who get and stay married by the end of their lives have a lot more in the way of assets – whether it’s a home or some kind of retirement account.” 

Parents share other economic incentives, including differentiation of labor, and they “are able to pool their income and benefit from economies of scale, in part,” said Wilcox.

Some marriage supporters believe the free market rests upon the foundation of a stable home.

“The family is absolutely necessary for the market to function,” said Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of The Ruth Institute, a think tank dedicated to understanding and defending the traditional family in all its aspects.

However, the article noted this foundation is crumbling under the weight of discarded social obligations. Some 41 percent of U.S. births take place out-of-wedlock. However, these are not evenly distributed: 60 percent of women with a high school education or less have illegitimate births.

Out-of-wedlock births among white women with some college education have tripled since 1990.

One-third of women with a high school education or less had children to more than one man by their late 20s. This instability has a deleterious effect on everyone in the household. Scott said, “Having men in the house for a short time with ambiguous parenting roles can be really disruptive for children.”

Yet the survey, conducted by Child Trends, found not a single woman who finished college before giving birth did.

Those in the top one-third of income are more likely to have intact families. According to Western and his Harvard colleague Tracey Shollenberger, 88 percent of children in that bracket grow up with both parents. 

Wilcox noted in a separate Times article that only two percent of children born to white, college-educated women are born out-of-wedlock.

Illegitimacy “varies by education more than by race,” said Scott.

Charles Murray documents the same pattern in his newest book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010

The most important impact of differing marriage trends is not economic but social and spiritual, and it is visited not on the parents but upon the children.

Dr. Morse told LifeSiteNews that parents’ differences allow them to equip their children with a mix of skills and abilities beyond that available to either individual parent. Healthy socialization also increases the child’s opportunity to become a productive citizen.

On the other hand, those raised without family attachments fall victims to pathologies as widely divergent as gang recruitment and institutional autism. http://childsrighttothrive.org/topics/socioemotional-development/what-are-effects-early-severe-deprivation-attachment  

“The substitutes to the family are expensive and ineffective, and taxpayers end up paying the price,” she said during one of her own lectures at Acton University. A 2008 study found family breakdown cost taxpayers $112 billion a year, the equivalent of the GDP of New Zealand.

Statistics, though, cannot measure the human toll.

The Times story frames the statistics around the story of two daycare workers in Ann Arbor, Michigan – one married, the other unmarried.

The unmarried mother, Jessica, got pregnant her first year at William Penn University in Iowa. The New York Times reports, “her boyfriend, an African-American student from Arkansas, said they should start a family,” but they agreed to wait “until they could afford a big reception and a long gown.” Instead, they alternated between living with each set of parents, working on-and-off until their breakup. She was 25 and had three children.

Jessica “has trouble explaining, even to herself, why she stayed so long with a man who she said earned little, berated her often and did no parenting,” the reporter wrote.

Now working in a daycare, she sees her friend’s children “swimming and karate and baseball and Boy Scouts, and it seems like it’s always her or her husband who’s able to make it there,” she said. “That’s something I wish I could do for my kids. But number one, that stuff costs a lot of money and, two, I just don’t have the time.”

She was deprived even of the time to heal after a major surgical procedure. After treating cervical cancer last year, she was told to take six weeks off but went back to work after one week’s rest, because she could not afford to give up the paycheck.

Single mothers “have no back-up,” Morse told LifeSiteNews.

That leads to frayed nerves, guilt-tinged memories – and leaner pocketbooks.

Jessica’s exhaustion rings through the written word. “Two incomes would certainly help with the bills, but it’s parenting, too. I wish I could say, ‘Call your dad.’”

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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