Political Hot Potato

From the August 2001 Trumpet Print Edition

Writing for the Irish Times, journalist Breda O’Brien poses the question, since when did marriage and family become unmentionable terms in politics?

She points to the last British government report on families, which manages to completely avoid defining family and does not even mention marriage! As she exclaims, “This was quite an achievement in a document the size of a telephone directory” (July 7).

O’Brien claims that in Britain, “marriage and family are a hot potato politically.” It seems that the motivation of the British government in avoiding any reference to marriage and family is to avoid stigmatizing those

single parents who took no responsibility to legitimize their relationship before producing children with either one or, in many cases, multiple partners.

O’Brien also notes in the government “the lack of political courage to stand up to powerful lobby groups which…would like to pretend that all family forms are equally valuable in their outcomes for adults, children and society as a whole.” But, as she points out, multiple studies conducted in Ireland all highlight the value of marriage, the most recent of which found that “being married, rather than single, separated, widowed or even remarried has a more powerful impact on well-being than either income or employment” (ibid.).

Based on such findings, O’Brien maintains that, for the good, welfare and survival of society, its citizens “should be supporting marriage. That may not be trendy or politically correct, but it is reality.”