Marriage in Crisis

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Dear Friends,

I am writing you this month about the institution of marriage, which is rocking and reeling like a ship on a stormy sea. Attacks on its stability and integrity are coming today from every major center of power. Each seems determined to redefine marriage and destroy its underpinnings. This 5,000-year-old institution, dating back to the dawn of humankind, is almost defenseless against the federal judiciary, the White House, the Congress, the Entertainment industry, large corporations, the Education monopoly, and the entire liberal movement. If people of faith don't come to the aid of traditional marriage very quickly, it will be damaged beyond repair.

As a case in point, I have been trying to call attention to the hostility and biases against families for more than 35 years. Our representatives and elected officials in Washington seem to have no understanding or appreciation of its importance to the nation and its future.

For example, in 1969, Congress foolishly created something known as the Marriage Penalty Tax. How's that for bias? It required husbands and wives living in committed, long-term relationships to pay higher taxes than those who were living together without benefit of marriage. Those who were bearing, raising, feeding, educating, medicating, sheltering, training, and guiding their children had to pay a penalty for accepting these challenging responsibilities. This inequity remained in effect every year from 1969 to 2002, a total of 33 years, without relief. It was the law of the land through the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, and was supported by both Democrats and RINO Republicans. It was not until the election of George W. Bush that the Marriage Penalty was eliminated. For the remaining six years that he was in office, the family was treated more fairly. During that time, however, Democrats and Barack Obama complained bitterly about "Bush's tax breaks for the rich." They promised to reinstate the policies of the past. They fulfilled that pledge in January of this year.

It was clear that families were going to get hit three years ago when Family Talk came into existence. This is what I wrote in July 2010:

Here's another example of a federal policy that is antagonistic to families and to people with strong moral convictions. I mentioned above that married couples are struggling mightily in this "down" economy. Nevertheless, it is clear that taxes on middle class families will soon go sky high. President Obama promised repeatedly that no taxpayer making under $250,000 would pay a dime in additional taxes. It was simply not true. President George W. Bush's tax reductions are scheduled to expire on January 1, 2011. [Note: the "fiscal cliff didn't occur until 2012.] Even the infamous "marriage penalty tax" will be re-instituted, whereby husbands and wives will be in a higher tax bracket than people who are cohabiting.

This "penalty" will fall on dedicated moms and dads who are pouring their lives into the next generation of Americans. They are fixing lunches for their children, helping with homework, binding up skinned knees, offering bedtime prayers, and trying to earn a living for their families. Yet there are very few people in official Washington who seem to understand the connection between strong families and the nation's welfare. Lobbying groups invest billions of dollars to influence legislation and assure the election of their candidates. But where are the "friends of the family" who are willing to fight for the defense of marriage and parenthood? A few organizations, such as the Family Research Council and Gary Bauer's American Values, ADF, Eagle Forum, and Family Talk, are carrying the load. Our federal government couldn't care less, and is, in fact, making things worse.

This statement has proved to be prophetic, although very few Americans seem to realize why their payroll checks have shrunk this year. They are making far less than $250,000, so why are they bringing home so little? The reason: President Obama and his cohorts have come after the middle class with a vengeance, starting with the Marriage Penalty Tax. The details about the revised tax code are spelled out in "The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog" from The Heritage Foundation. Here is an excerpt, which will be of relevance to your family. Please read carefully:

Valentine's Day Treat: Continued Marriage Penalties.

Valentine's Day is supposed to be when couples come together and celebrate their relationship, but the 13 tax increases in the 2013 fiscal cliff deal unfortunately continued American's marriage tax penalty. ...

According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation1, middle-income couples also get taxed more for being married. This penalty hits families progressively harder in the 28 percent, 33 percent, and 35 percent brackets—financially penalizing the decision to get and stay married.

This is on top of what President Obama's health care law already will do to penalize marriage. As Heritage has explained2, by 2014, Obamacare will mean "married couples will generally receive $1,000 to $10,000 less per year in health care premium support than cohabiting couples with the same combined income." The marriage disincentives on Obamacare are notable.

The effect is greatest on a 60-year-old couple earning about $30,000 each. Their annual marriage penalty in lost premium reimbursement could reach $10,000. Even a lower-income married couple of the same age ($15,000 each per year) would receive an annual government bonus of $4,212 IF THEY CHOOSE TO DIVORCE AND COHABIT (emphasis added). ...

The effect on people's lives is real. These tax penalties hit the country just as the percentage of intact, married families in America has fallen to an all-time low since the first marriage penalty was instituted in 1969.3 Heritage's Andrew Walker reports4 that while nearly 80 percent of all Americans were married in 1980, only 52 percent of adults are married today. This decline in marriage correlates with sharp increases in childhood poverty, as a child raised outside of marriage is six times more likely to experience poverty during childhood.5

Because of its profound effect on children, protecting and defending marriage truly matters to wise public policy. ... (It) holds to the principles of equality recently preached by Dr. Ben Carson at the National Prayer Breakfast.6

Unfortunately, instead of working to rebuild marriage, our tax code this Valentine's Day continues to penalize the institution for many families, affecting many loving couples' decision to say, "I do."

I grieve over what Obama and the majority of Congressmen have done to the American family. They are undermining its financial integrity and limiting its ability to care for its children. The Marriage Penalty Tax has far-reaching implications for the Middle Class.

I spoke to an older couple recently who fell in love after the deaths of their spouses, and chose to live together without marrying. Why? Because they couldn't afford to lose the benefits available to them as individuals. While I didn't agree with their decision to cohabit as singles, I understand the dilemma the government has put them in.

What could be the rationale for taxing husbands and wives at a higher rate than unmarried partners? Could it reflect hostility to the institution of the family? Yes! That has to be the motivation. Why else did the bias against marriage continue for 33 years, and now has been reinstated? (I am highlighting laws currently in effect. Tax laws are under continuous review as new proposals are submitted on a regular basis.)

Here's another penetrating question: Why was the Marriage Penalty Tax hidden from the American people? I had to dig into the law to unearth the truth. Our government is secretly at war with the traditional family in this instance and hundreds of others. It has played a role in the demise of marriage, and this great nation will pay a dear price for it in days to come.

Here's another aspect of the assault on marriage. My father was a college professor in a small Christian college when I was 13 years old. He earned less that $2,000 per year in salary. After my dad and mother had gone on to heaven (she was the last to die), I explored her financial records to learn how Mom had been able to be a full-time mother throughout my childhood, despite their meager income. It was because they paid only $2.45 in federal taxes every two weeks. If my parents had been penalized by the government for being legally wed, and if their taxes had been sky high as they are now, my mom would have been forced into the workplace.

Whether or not a woman chooses to devote herself to fulltime mothering or to seek employment should be a decision made by a husband and wife. It should NOT be forced on them by a government that grabs and then wastes the precious resources of families. Frankly, I resent the intrusion of Washington into the choices made on the home front.

If you agree with the theme of this letter, take a moment to let your representatives and elected officials know your views. Only when we begin voting people out of office will they get the message. They are spending us into oblivion, stealing the resources of future generations, and manipulating the way Americans live.

One of the reasons non-profit organizations, including churches, are struggling financially today is because many families have little discretionary income to share. Family Talk is among those ministries that are challenged by the need for sufficient funding.

This month, a matching grant will double your gift, providing twice the support to reach, teach, and connect with families. If you have been blessed and can help us reach out to millions of other families, we would be very appreciative to you. We are fully committed to the preservation of marriage and parenthood. Thank you for standing with us in this mission.

If you can't find our broadcast on your local Christian radio station, it is now available at any time via our free app on your smartphone. Simply download Family Talk's app from your mobile device app store. Everything we broadcast or write and much more can also be found on our website at Our message is available in many avenues. Join us and tell your friends and family about this ministry. And pray for us when our names come to mind.

Pray also for America. I hope you will participate in the National Day of Prayer on May 2nd. If we ever needed prayer as a country, it is now.

Your friend in Christ,

Dr. Dobson Signature

James C. Dobson, Ph.D.
Founder and President



This letter may be reproduced without change and in its entirety for non-commercial and non-political purposes without prior permission from Family Talk. Copyright © 2013 Family Talk. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Printed in the U.S.A. Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk is not affiliated with Focus on the Family.

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