I see from the morning news that Mike Pence is promising to attack Indiana’s economic woes by focusing like a laser on “protecting marriage.” If the nexus between those things seems a bit…shall we say “attenuated”…he explains that children of intact marriages are less likely to live in poverty.
That’s true enough. The question is whether we elect a governor to address a long-standing social issue with complex causes rooted in social change–social change a Governor is unable to affect (or evidently, in Pence’s case, understand), or whether we elect a chief executive of our state to manage budgets, pave roads, maintain state parks and improve underperforming social service agencies. Those mundane tasks clearly do not interest Mr. Pence.
We all recognize that Pence’s interest in the health of the institution of marriage rests less on his belief that intact families will lead to a better Indiana economy than on his determination to keep GLBT folks from forming those families. If Pence really cared about the health of families, he wouldn’t be waging war against Planned Parenthood, opposing access to contraception, or even more adamantly opposing the Affordable Care Act. The availability of affordable health care and family planning do have a demonstrable impact on families. Same-sex marriage just as demonstrably does not.
If Pence’s unctuous concern for the state of Hoosier marriages actually extends to the prevalence of divorce, how does he plan to insert the Governor’s office into that issue? Will he make it more difficult for the woman leaving an abusive spouse to exit that relationship? Work toward restrictive divorce policies that keep children in intact, unhappy homes?
There really are public policies that are family-friendly, that support women and children and ameliorate some of the predictable effects of single-parenting. Income supports and social services for impoverished children would make a real difference. SChip has been a godsend to thousands of them. But those aren’t policies Mike Pence has ever supported. In his case, “concern for marriage” is just a euphemism for policies that discriminate against gay people.
If Pence becomes Governor, it is going to be a long four years.