Isn’t it funny how "experts" eventually discover what those with a modicum of common sense have known all along? The latest example of experts stating the obvious, having expended much time and money "proving" it, emerged from research published in the journal Demography last month. Apparently, cohabitation is only an "intense form of dating," and the view that it is a stepping stone to marriage needs to be "seriously questioned."

Research as part of a Cornell University study revealed that the average time couples spend "living together" is less than two years and that only 4 percent of cohabiting couples stay together for more than ten years. Half of all cohabiting "unions" end within a year, and 90 percent within five years. As ever, it is the children who suffer from this laissez-faire approach to relationships. Within five years of the birth of a child, 52 percent of cohabitants split up. This compares to 25 percent of those cohabiting couples who marry after the birth of the child, and only 8 percent of those couples who were already married when the child was born. Thus the experts have finally come to the earth-shattering (and earth-shatteringly obvious) conclusion that marriage is good for the stability of relationships and crucial to the well-being of children.

Although the Cornell University study was based on data in the United States, matters are at least as bad in England. Last year, Britain’s most eminent family law judge, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, complained that the present Labour government had badly undermined the institution of marriage. Urging new government initiatives to encourage couples to marry, she spoke of the "sad fact" that government ministers were "downgrading the status of marriage." Specifically, she accused the Labour administration of stripping away the tax incentives to marry and lamented the fact that couples were now better off financially if they lived together without marrying. Pursuing a perniciously "politically correct" agenda, Labour had abolished the married couple’s allowance, the last remaining tax break for married couples, and introduced instead a system of tax credits that favored single mothers over couples.

It is of course the nation’s children who suffer from the sociological whirlwind that such policies are inevitably reaping¯their happiness, security, and well-being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. Clearly, it is not simply in the womb that liberals practice the black art of child sacrifice. Faced with such an alarming reality, the vision of Edvard Munch’s The Scream emerges as a metaphor for the suffering of modernity’s abandoned children.

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