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Five Things More Likely to Save Marriage Than an Anti-Porn Crusade

Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum signed an anti-porn pledge to save marriage. If they really cared about matrimony, they'd do these things instead.


Apparently it's 1979 all over again: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich have all pledged to crack down on pornography should they become president. Morality in Media, an organization opposing "pornography and indecency through public education and the application of the law," launched an effort in October to recruit presidential candidates in both major parties to commit to strict enforcement of obscenity laws. Three of them took the bait. Santorum thinks that “[f]ederal obscenity laws should be vigorously enforced," Romney signed the pledge in the name of "fundamental family values," and Gingrich promised to "appoint an Attorney General who will enforce these laws.” According to MIM, pornography not only leads to "misogyny and violence against women," but "destruction of marriage," as well.

Of course, this is likely just political posturing; federal obscenity laws, citing a vague adherence to "community standards," are tricky to effectively enforce, and it's been clear since the advent of the Internet that fighting the existence of porn is a losing battle. But if these presidential candidates actually cared about preserving the institution, they would do a lot more besides vowing to eliminate smut. Here are some suggestions:


Help create jobs. There's no denying that unemployment and financial trouble corrodes marriages. It's a major factor in marital stress, domestic violence, and child abuse. Even though people have delayed divorce in recent years due to the high price tag, joblessness makes divorce much more likely later; a couple that argues about finances once a week is 30 percent more likely to get a divorce. Among those yet to take the plunge, people often cite a lack of financial security as the number-one reason they're waiting to marry. Plus, weddings are expensive. Jump-starting the economy would not only prevent the "destruction" of existing marriages, it'd also make new ones possible.

Encourage people to marry later. A recent White House study concluded that people are marrying later, and that this pattern bodes well for marriage. The later couples marry, the more likely they are to stay together. Older couples often do it for the "right reasons"—not only financial stability, but love and compatibility, too. Getting young people to focus on their educations and careers, and to regard marriage as a deliberate and serious choice, would certainly preserve the institution.

Make it easier to get a bachelor's degree. College-educated people are more likely to marry, and more likely to stay together for more than a decade. So instead of minimizing the rise of college loan debt like Romney, or suggesting that the idea of everyone going to college is "elitist snobbery," as Rick Santorum did, these candidates should be pushing access to education. All in the name of matrimony!

Of course, these are all larger cultural shifts that are difficult to achieve piecemeal. So if you're really, truly set on strengthening obscenity laws:

Concentrate on prosecuting child pornographers. Not all obscenity cases are created equal. Many are based on arbitrary objections to acts on porn DVDs and websites. But one thing we can agree on is that child pornography is bad. Why not focus your energy on that rather than putting all pornography—most of which is performed by consenting adults—under one umbrella?

Finally, the obvious way to multiply married couples:

Let everyone get married. The key to preserving the age-old institution is bolstering the newest, most passionate spokespeople for marriage: gays and lesbians. In a logical world, you'd think Republicans would be jumping at the chance to support a population that upholds traditional values and is just itching to don a tux or a wedding dress. What's that, Santorum? Not what you had in mind?

Photo via (cc) Flickr user hansol.

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