Marital Bedrock

Conjugal America: On the Public Purposes of Marriage
by Allan Carlson
Transaction Publishers, 2006
(138 pages, $29.95, hardcover)

reviewed by Robert W. Patterson

Fourteen years ago, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead vindicated an embattled Dan Quayle in The Atlantic Monthly by showcasing the social science literature that demonstrates that, yes, Murphy Brown, the country’s experiment with family “diversity”—whether single parenthood, divorce, or step-parenting—has not been good for children.

While ending her 16,500-word feature with the suggestion that “societies can change, particularly when it becomes apparent that certain behaviors damage the social ecology, threaten the public order, and impose new burdens on core institutions,” she wasn’t willing to predict any pending turnaround. Whether she would be . . .

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Robert W. Patterson is a former Presbyterian minister who is now Research Fellow of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society and writes on domestic policy issues in Washington, D.C.

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