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The "Assault" On The American Family and the 2012 Presidential Election

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

In politics there are code words that are used to refer to something other than the listener might think. So, when American politicians, especially ones in the Republican Party, refer to the “assault on the family” they are really talking about homosexuality and the rights of those who are gay to marry. What is unfortunate about this is that there are very real assaults of the family but they have nothing to do with gay marriage.

Since the end of World War II the structure and functioning of the family has undergone enormous changes. These changes were gradual but steady and relentless. For example, newly married couples moved to the suburbs where they purchased houses and left their parents behind in the city. As travel and communication became easier and rapid, couples moved to distant places, far from their family of origin. However, this was only the start of things to come. Changing beliefs and attitudes about sex and religion led to a rapidly increasing divorce rate so that, at the present time, fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. The advent of the birth control pill and the women’s liberation movement allowed people to either delay marriage or raise children as single parents. In addition, more careers and jobs became available to women so that they had enough resources to support themselves outside of what used to be called the extended family. If the extended family included living near parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, the nuclear family mean living as husband, wife and with children.

Today, men and women are raising children as single parents. All of the family changes that have occurred over the last seventy years have impacted men just as much as women. In other words, on one is in a hurry to get married and many live together without ever taking the vows.

One aspect of all of these revolutionary changes is that homosexuality came into view as greater tolerance and understanding about being gay came about. The American Psychological Association no longer considered homosexuality an abnormal behavior or mental illness. The American Psychiatric Association agreed and homosexuality was removed from the diagnostic manual as an illness. It is also unethical for therapists who treat gay people to try to convert them to heterosexuality. It does not work because it is now known that this is not a life style choice.

Despite all we now know about homosexuality and all we know about how the family has changed there are still those who insist that gay marriage is destroying the “American Family.” The vast changes that have happened in the functioning and structure of the family have nothing to do with homosexuality or the right of homosexuals to marry. The plain and simple fact is that those who are opposed to gay marriage do so for religious reasons. For them, homosexuality is an abomination as described in the bible and is, therefore, a sin. Whether you agree with this or not, problems such as the rate of divorce, domestic violence, drug abuse and parents not being at home because they are out working, have affected family life as we knew it many years ago.

So, when you hear politicians talking about “family values” be aware that they are referring to the right of homosexuals to marry. I think that there are real changes happening in the functioning and structure of the family, as well as the issues that today’s families are dealing with, but politicians aren’t talking about that much.

Your comments and questions are encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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