At Ballot Box, Marriage of Primary Importance
Supporting marriage might cost you a job in broadcasting, but in Republican politics, it's the best decision you can make. Indiana voters made that crystal clear in last night's primary, refusing to "hold their peace" on two GOP House members who helped sink the state's chance at a marriage protection amendment. Kathy Heuer (R) and Rebecca Kubacki (R) probably regret their decision to undercut the state's marriage amendment now, after losing in a landslide rebuke of their liberal social positions. The women, who both lost to pro-marriage challengers, flip-flopped on the issue when the state was debating a November referendum -- betraying the GOP platform and ultimately costing Hoosiers the chance to vote their values.
Of course, the media wants you to think that Americans everywhere are ready throw man-woman marriage on the ash heap of history. Don't believe it. What happened in Indiana Tuesday only proves what the polling says: Republicans don't just support natural marriage -- they expect their candidates to. A few weeks ago, FRC released some pretty eye-opening numbers from a survey we commissioned by WPA Opinion Research.
In what should be a wake-up call to the GOP Establishment, 82% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe marriage "should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman." And they're tired of their elected leaders ignoring the issue -- or worse, pushing the party in the opposite direction. Three-quarters of respondents scoffed the idea that "politicians should support the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples" (with 67% strongly agreeing).
Exhibit A: Tuesday's victors. Pro-marriage amendment leaders won by big margins in Indiana -- including the bill's author, Eric Turner, committee chair Milo Smith, and Bob Morris. Jeff Raatz, who campaigned for state Senate, enjoyed an almost 2,000-vote cushion. For FRC Action and coalition, it was a gratifying night, especially after the disappointment of the marriage debate. Our sister organization poured thousands of dollars into ads and endorsements, determined to send a message to Republican incumbents that there's a price to pay for turning your back on marriage. Even "Freedom Indiana," one of the driving forces behind the amendment's defeat, retreated after diluting -- and then delaying -- the marriage amendment.
As our friend Curt Smith at IFA pointed out in all the press coverage, "The overall message is that if you oppose marriage in Indiana, you take huge political risks. If you want to thumb your nose at the pro-family groups, you do so at your own risk."
Nigerian Nightmare Wakes up U.S.
For some Americans, the brutal kidnappings from Chibok Government Girls Secondary were the first they'd ever heard of Nigeria's Boko Haram. The Islamic extremists, who took 300 girls by force from their school dorms three weeks ago, caught the country's attention. Unfortunately, though, this is just one in a long line of vicious and deadly attacks by the Muslim radicals. Now, almost a month after gunmen piled the children in pick-up trucks and drove them off into the woods, the world's forces are scrambling to find the hostages and bring their terrorists to justice. While some of the girls escaped, parents of the 276 still missing (and another eight snatched out of their houses this week), are beside themselves with the news that many may have been sold into sex slavery.
The Obama administration, which has consistently turned a blind eye to Boko's violence, is finally joining the search for these girls after pressure from the Right, Left, and even Hollywood. For most families, fear and torture are ways of life at the hands of these Islamic radicals, who continue to roam the villages unchallenged. Just two months ago, they sent shockwaves through the region, burning more than 60 Christian boys alive in their school dorms.
Despite these horrors, it took tremendous persistence and pressure from the likes of Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) for the State Department to agree to designate Boko Haram a "terror group." Finally, last November, Rep. Smith (who heads up the House's Foreign Affairs Subcommittee) succeeded, helping to freeze the group's assets and give the administration the tools to address the spread of terrorism in Nigeria -- if the President will use them.
For now, Americans are getting a frightening glimpse into the persecution facing our Christian brothers and sisters overseas -- which has exploded, in part, because of the West's inattention. It's difficult to focus on religious persecution abroad when there is growing religious hostility from the current administration here at home.
As House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) explained, it's time for the U.S. to take a leading role cracking down on this violence. "Human sex trafficking remains one of the most horrific crimes that plagues our world. The atrocities in Nigeria over the past several weeks has awakened the global conscience and reminded us of this evil... I am heartened that the Obama administration has taken initial steps to help assist efforts to return these girls to freedom and to their families. Unfortunately, the underlying threat posed by extremist terrorist groups in Nigeria and throughout the region has been growing. Whether it is Boko Haram, Ansar al-Sharia, or al Qaeda, I look forward to this administration working with Congress to examine how we can address this growing threat to international peace, security and the protection of innocent lives." In the meantime, our prayers are with the victims, their families, and the broken nation of Nigeria.
Split Decisions: Author Fights Divorce Rate Myth
Is it possible, reporters are asking, that everything we've been told about marriage and divorce is wrong? Shaunti Feldhahn thinks so. The Harvard-trained researcher spent the last eight years trying to get to the bottom of the data on broken marriages -- and the results might shock you. We've all heard the statistic that half of all marriages end in divorce. Not so fast, says Feldhahn, who lays out the argument in her new book (The Good News about Marriage) that the actual divorce rate isn't even close to that number.
Like most sociologists, Shaunti says she's "stood up on stage and said every one of those wrong statistics." Now, she's on a mission to correct those assumptions. If anything, she points out, the divorce rate is dropping. "First-time marriages: probably 20 to 25% have ended in divorce on average," she explains. "There is no such thing as a 50% divorce rate. It's never been close. Right now," she tells Billy Hallowell of The Blaze, "...72% of people are still married to their first spouse -- that's Census Bureau data."
At the very least, Feldhahn estimates, the divorce rate is 27-50% lower than people think. "Starting in the 1970s -- that's when those projections started -- when no fault divorce started, the divorce rate skyrocketed. Suddenly, there was this explosion in divorce... it has fallen according to the crude divorce rate... 32% since 1980."
What's more, she says the comparisons between the church and general society are an absolute myth. "The divorce rate dropped by 27% between those who went to church last week." One of Shaunti's favorite things is shocking people with the news that 80% of marriages are happy. "The sense of futility itself pulls down marriages. And the problem is we have this culture-wide feeling of futility about marriage. It's based on all these discouraging beliefs and many of them just aren't true." I don't know about you, but I could use some good news on our culture -- and the Good News about Marriage is exactly that!
** What's driving the explosion of sexual assault in the military and across college campuses? FRC's Rob Schwarzwalder offers one explanation in his new piece for Townhall, "Sexual Assault on Campus a Symptom of a Larger Problem."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.