Last week President Obama signed a presidential memorandum authorizing special benefits for same-sex partners of federal workers. He touted the measure as a means of ensuring "competitiveness" with the private sector for America's most talented professionals. Mr. Obama should dispense with the pretense and acknowledge his new policy for what it really is: payback to the gay community for its overwhelming support in the election. This new policy is yet another example of the public treasury being raided to reward favored political constituencies without regard for the social, cultural, or economic consequences.
In his perpetual quest to be all things to all people, President Obama finds himself on the horns of a dilemma in his relationship with the homosexual community. In a nod to more traditional voters, he's stated several times that his religion compels him to oppose same-sex marriage. This, however, is a mere rhetorical ploy, and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The pressure to advance the social agenda of his more progressive supporters is leading to policies which advance special rights for the homosexual community. In a classic bait-and-switch scheme, Mr. Obama has managed to maintain his "opposition" to same-sex marriage while manipulating federal policies to effectively elevate homosexual domestic partnerships to the same status and privilege as heterosexual marriage. It is no accident that heterosexual non-married couples are not included in the provisions of this memo. The new policy has nothing to do with recruiting and retaining talented workers and everything to do with advancing the narrow agenda of a particular interest group: the homosexual lobby.
Marriage represents the most fundamental relationship that can exist between two human beings. It is an institution that has been honored from time immemorial as an intrinsic societal good, and it was created by the Almighty for the mutual benefit of man and woman. Today, however, traditional marriage is under unprecedented assault. More and more, the age-old institution of marriage (along with all its "stifling" obligations and responsibilities) is being eschewed for the freedom of long-term singledom or the flexibility and convenience of extramarital cohabitation. And as our popular culture adopts an increasingly antagonistic attitude towards traditional marriage, more and more people are finding that they just don't have the energy or desire to "make it work" with their spouse. Increasingly, today's cultural heroes are those who have the "fortitude" to stand against the tide of oppressive traditional dictates and expose marriage for what it really is: an antiquated institution that has been rendered obsolete by progress-kind of like the corset or the horse-and-buggy. President Obama's decision to elevate same-sex domestic partnerships as the functional equivalent of traditional marriage is only the latest blow in a systematic campaign to relegate marriage to the ash heap of history.
There are plenty of good reasons for promoting traditional marriage as the preferred family unit-at least, for those legitimately concerned with the social, cultural, and economic welfare of our society. After all, research conducted over the past several decades confirms what common sense has shown us for generations: By every possible measure-including overall satisfaction, the total well-being of children, physical safety, economic security, earning power, mental, physical, and emotional health, sexual satisfaction, and familial harmony-traditional marriage is far and away the domestic relationship that yields the best outcomes for individuals and for society. The bottom line is that traditional marriage provides essential benefits that no other domestic arrangement can match, not only for the adults involved, but for the most vulnerable among us-our children.
Instead of harnessing his leadership and influence to affirm and bolster marriage through public policy, President Obama is playing politics as usual. Instead of promoting policies that recognize marriage as a uniquely valuable social relationship between heterosexual adults, President Obama embraces the pop-culture vision that views various domestic social arrangements through a lens of value-neutrality. In spite of statistical proof that traditional marriage provides the strongest foundation for society, President Obama has chosen to contribute to America's social and cultural decline by capitulating to a boutique constituency that aims to advance a narrow political agenda at the expense of overall social health, welfare, and stability.
Ronald Reagan famously stated that government doesn't solve problems, it subsidizes them. When you promote a particular behavior with economic incentives, you can be certain that you will get more, not less, of that behavior. Do Americans really want our government subsidizing and promoting a lifestyle known to be risky and unstable? How will our society be impacted by this political maneuver? It is no secret for those who care to see it that the social and cultural fabric of our society is crumbling. Instead of subsidizing this sorry state of affairs, America's leaders should pursue policies that promote marriage and the traditional family arrangement as the critical institutions that both fact and experience have proven them to be.
Ken Connor is the Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC, the former President of the Family Research Council, and a nationally recognized trial lawyer.