Twenty Years Later, Dan Quayle's Words Seem Less Controversial than Prophetic

On May 19, 1992, as the presidential campaign season was heating up, Vice President Dan Quayle delivered a family-values speech that came to define him nearly as much as his spelling talents. Speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California, he chided Murphy Brown — the fictional 40-something, divorced news anchor played by Candice Bergen on a CBS sitcom — for her decision to have a child outside of marriage.

“Bearing babies irresponsibly is simply wrong,” the vice president said. “Failing to support children one has fathered is wrong. We must be unequivocal about this. It doesn’t help matters when prime-time TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.”

20 years later, it turns out Dan Quayle was right about Murphy Brown and unmarried moms

For further reading:

Dan Quayle Was Right, published in the April 2003 issue of The Atlantic.

Twenty years later, Dan Quayle’s Words Seem Less Controversial than Prophetic - Ann Althouse

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David R. Brumbelow's picture

Very good article. Preachers, you can get some good sermon material here.
David R. Brumbelow

Jay's picture American Caste

Defenders of the single-mother revolution often describe it as empowering for women, who can now free themselves from unhappy unions and live independent lives. That’s one way to look at it. Another is that it has been an economic catastrophe for those women. Poverty remains relatively rare among married couples with children; the U.S. Census puts only 8.8 percent of them in that category, up from 6.7 percent since the start of the Great Recession. But over 40 percent of single-mother families are poor, up from 37 percent before the downturn. In the bottom quintile of earnings, most households are single people, many of them elderly. But of the two-fifths of bottom-quintile households that are families, 83 percent are headed by single mothers. The Brookings Institute’s Isabel Sawhill calculates that virtually all the increase in child poverty in the United States since the 1970s would vanish if parents still married at 1970 rates.

Well, comes the response, maybe single mothers are hard up not because they lack husbands but because unskilled, low-earning women are likelier to become single mothers in the first place. The Urban Institute’s Robert Lerman tried to address that objection by studying low-income women who had entered “shotgun” unions—that is, getting married after getting pregnant—on the theory that they represented a population roughly similar to those who got pregnant but didn’t marry. The married women, he found, had a significantly higher standard of living than the unmarried ones. “Even among the mothers with the least qualifications and highest risks of poverty,” Lerman concluded, “marriage effects are consistently large and statistically significant.” In another study, Sawhill and Adam Thomas ran an experiment simulating marriages between poor single mothers and unattached men with similar characteristics. Even though the men might have incomes lower than the average married father’s, the researchers found, the new “marriages” would mean a 65.4 percent decline in the number of poor children among the families in the study and a 43.2 percent rise in per-capita income.

You might think that cohabiting mothers would have the same economic advantages as married mothers. You’d be wrong. About half of all unmarried mothers in the United States are living with the child’s father at the time of birth, and they do tend to be less poor than lone mothers—at first. But cohabiting relationships here, unlike those in Europe, have short shelf lives. According to the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, which examined couples in large American cities in the 1990s, about half of cohabiting couples split before their child was five—compared with just 18 percent of married couples. Cohabiters were also likelier to import instability and economic stress into new relationships. A full 60 percent of cohabiters—but only 21 percent of low-income married couples—already had children from earlier relationships.

Women and their children weren’t the only ones to suffer the economic consequences of the single-mother revolution; low-earning men have lost ground, too.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells