Domestic Violence / Slide Show / Substance Abuse

Strengthening Marriage Through Better Laws

By David R. Usher and Representative Cynthia Davis

Every day we read articles bemoaning the lack of marriage and complaining about marriage-destructive Progressive federal law.  Now is the time to move beyond armchair hand-wringing about the demise of marriage and destrucive laws. We must take a firm lead with better policy that will accurately target social problems while restoring marriage for the benefit all Americans.

One way we can win the war on marriage is by working toward workable legislative answers that make more sense than the anti-family ideas being promoted by organized progressives around the Beltway and in state capitols across America.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is an example of government erroneously treating a consequence rather than impacting the source of the problem.  Domestic violence is usually a symptom of a much larger problem brought on by drug and alcohol abuse.  Due to the emotional nature of this issue, we missed the root cause of the problem.

VAWA was pushed through Congress in 1994, despite the fact it was exclusively promulgated by radical feminist Progressives.  VAWA is often misused to unilaterally take over families, destroy marriages and dole out extensive welfare entitlements simply on unverified statements of fear.  Since its passage, VAWA has actually increased family violence that had been on a downward trend since 1976!

How is it possible that over this sixteen-year time period, nobody has proposed better legislation to deal with domestic violence? When will we set forth sensible social policy, founded on substance rather than symbolism, conforming to conservative principles and simple human science?

I entered public office in 1994—about the same time VAWA was passed and have held office on the local and state level, including time as chair of the Missouri House of Representative’s Children and Families Committee.  As a conservative, it frustrates me that there is such a dearth of sound logic to counteract the misinformation being promoted by the left.  By the time a domestic violence bill gets to a vote, legislators from both parties fall all over each other trying to support it.  Legislators from all political parties want the reputation of being the “champions of the poor women and children,” but we are completely amiss on how to accomplish this.  As a consequence, our best intentioned ideas produced the opposite results.

Progressives now want to enact I-VAWA – designed to directly entitle U.N. feminists to destroy marriage, promote abortion, and foster lesbianism worldwide.  This is at the top of Joe Biden’s agenda. Republicans will likely cave-in as they have in the past unless we show them the way on social policy matters.

A simple example of trickle-down social policy

How can we positively impact and prevent domestic violence with trickle-down social policy? We must focus on the leading causes of domestic violence and directly address them. Alcohol and drug abuse is associated with three-quarters of serious domestic violence.  It is by far the leading factor in family violence as well as being a major factor in motor vehicle accidents.   Substance abuse is often the predicator of cheating, squandering marital assets, getting fired, motivational problems, crime to support addiction, and an inability to maintain family relationships. Millions of marriages can be saved, but only when the substance abuser recovers.

We recommend legislation establishing the Family Intervention Order (FIO) to directly prevent domestic violence, effectively leverage the substance abusing spouse into treatment, and save many marriages.

The Family Intervention Order gives a spouse with a substance-abusing partner a powerful tool similar to a restraining order directing the other party to seek evaluation and recovery in a state-approved treatment center.  Treatment centers report to courts so the progress can be measured.  Under current laws, the victim has only two choices: live with the abuse or get a divorce.  With the Family Intervention Order, the substance abuser has only two choices: recover or leave so you can’t continue to abuse. Both of these choices offer support to the innocent one and a more satisfying resolution.

As conservatives, we want our government smaller.  Government often inappropriately interjects itself into human relationships when marriages are in trouble.  While the FIO may seem like a new program, it preempts the need for VAWA, by resolving the leading cause of family problems at comparatively low cost.  The national government decided to involve itself when it passed VAWA in 1994.  Instead of reauthorizing VAWA, we should eliminate it through better ideas that will strengthen families.

While this still won’t guarantee success for every situation, the longitudinal recovery rate for Betty Ford (Hazelden) recovery programs is very high.  Marriage is the safest place for women, children, and men.  It creates taxpayers, and is only institution preventing tragedies driving the necessity for massive social service spending.

We need to get off the misguided path of progressives who seek to erode and minimize the importance of family.  Achieving a sane and prosperous America is inseparably linked with restoring marriage.

By working together to execute trickle-down social policy, our children will not have to pay the price for the financial and societal degeneration that is crippling us now.  It’s time to stop placating pro-homosexual organizations that have no pro-social purpose.  These groups bring to the table dangerous feminist legal principles promising more social problems with a price tag America can no longer afford to bear.


David R. Usher is President of the Center for Marriage Policy

Cynthia Davis is the former State Representative for Missouri’s 19th District

© 2011

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