Is Rubio's New 'Marriage and Family Advisory Board' About Anything Besides Opposing Gay Couples?

A closer look at the participants suggests a little more.


Credit: Gage Skidmore / photo on flickr

In South Carolina Sen. Ted Cruz is trying to tighten his grip on evangelical conservatives by casting Sen. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump as being weaker in opposition to gay marriage recognition. He's wrong on both counts (though Trump is arguably the most pro-gay candidate remaining among the Republicans). Rubio is opposed to gay marriage recognition, has said so regularly, and wants to appoint Supreme Court justices that would return decision-making back to the states. But he apparently acknowledged the legality of the Supreme Court's ruling mandating recognition and this somehow puts Rubio on the same side as President Barack Obama, according to Cruz.

Over the holiday weekend, where we celebrated both our love of each other and of aggrandizing the role of the president (or lamented the absence of both and maybe played a lot of Grim Dawn), Rubio attempted to counter Cruz's attack by announcing his "Marriage and Family Advisory Board." The 13 members of the board have backgrounds (some quite lengthy) in culturally conservative defenses of marriage. The Washington Blade picked up that many people on the board have been significant opponents of same-sex marriage recognition.

But is that all they are? I'd say the Blade is not wrong to classify the group as a whole as anti-gay marriage. Most of the participants are either members of activist groups that oppose same-sex marriage or have written independently in opposition to gay marriage. One member, Bill Wichterman, was a proponent of the Federal Marriage Amendment, and even jumped ship from Fred Thompson's campaign to Mitt Romney's back in the 2008 presidential race because Thomson didn't support a constitutional ban. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, recently had his college drop out of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities because two other colleges had decided to hire staff members in same-sex marriages.

But there is maybe more to the group than meets the eye. Whenever a social conservative brings up marriage and family issues, it's easy to assume he or she is talking about the culture war issues of same-sex relationships and abortion and that's pretty much it. But pay attention to Rubio's wonkishness (which can get lost in debates) and there is an interest in actual family-oriented economic policies that helps explain Rick Santorum's endorsement of Rubio beyond the shared interest in military intervention, domestic surveillance, and not liking gay marriage.

Rubio's issue page for families actually focuses on tax and economic issues, promoting a $2,500 tax credit for parents, eliminating the marriage penalty, and even a voluntary paid leave plan that would reward participating businesses with a non-refundable tax credit. He was asked to defend his tax plan in Saturday night's debate and said:

Here's what I don't understand, if a business takes their money and they invest in the piece of the equipment, they get to write to off their taxes. But if a parent takes money that they have earned to work and invests in their children, they don't? This makes no sense.

Parenting is the most important job any of us will ever have. Family formation is the most important thing in society. So what my tax plan does, is it does create - especially for working families, an additional Child Tax Credit. So that parents who are working get to keep more of their own money, not the government's money to invest in their children to go to school, to go a private school, to buy a new back pack.

So there's more to his family politics than just opposing abortion and gay marriage. The same can be said for at least some of the people in his new board. Robert Lerman and Bradford Wilcox, for example, both members of Rubio's board, put together a lengthy study showing the economic impacts and advantages of stable, intact families. The report did not pit straight couples versus gay couples; rather it was about analyzing the economics of married families versus unmarried families.

Kay Hymowitz, also on the board, wrote in 2004 an essay that critiqued the gay marriage movement as ignoring the historical roots of marriage as a social tool for promoting the proper rearing of children. But in 2015 Hymowitz signed on to the Marriage Opportunity Council, a bipartisan group that seeks to "make marriage achievable for all who seek it." Its co-directors are David Blankenhorn, who famously switched sides to support gay marriage in 2012, and Brookings Institute Senior Fellow and Reason contributor Jonathan Rauch, a notable supporter of gay marriage recognition. It is a group devoted to embracing marriage as a tool for improving social and economic opportunities for Americans, gay or straight.

Hymowitz's inclusion suggests there is more to this council than just harping on the gays. But whether she can serve as a counterbalance to some of the others in the group is an open question. I predict there's very little likelihood that the next president, no matter how conservative, will be successful in rolling back same-sex marriage recognition in any degree. So what matters is what sorts of policies they recommend that could actually get anywhere. Just imagine if Rubio got the marriage penalty revoked while same-sex recognition remained intact.

NEXT: Donald Trump & Bernie Sanders Are Burning the GOP & Democratic Party To The Ground, Thank God.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. But if a parent takes money that they have earned to work and invests in their children, they don't? This makes no sense.

    Yeah, and why can't I write off my clothes, shoes, and books? Taxing consumption goods is unfair!

    1. I don't know about books, but as long as you wear them to work you can deduct the shit out of your clothes and shoes. Don't try to make sense out of the dog's breakfast that is U.S. tax law, just find as many loopholes as you can and jump through 'em.

      1. "you can deduct the shit out of your clothes and shoes"

        true. when i was in consulting i dropped a lot of $ on suits & travel gear and my tax guy deducted a chunk of it, but if i recall it was capped at something pretty minor (a few hundred$) and couldn't be rolled over into subsequent years in continued deductions. I could be wrong, it was years ago.

        1. I'm not sure where the limit is, but it doesn't cost that much to make me look awesome, so i don't think i've hit it. It's a nice little bonus, though. Itemized deductions rule.

      2. as long as you wear them to work you can deduct the shit out of your clothes and shoes.

        Only if they are a condition of employment and not suitable for daily wear. Office clothes: not deductible.

        What clothes did you deduct, anyway?

        1. Yep. See Pevsner v. Commissioner, 628 F.2d 467 (5th Cir. 1980).

        2. "What clothes did you deduct, anyway"

          if you're asking me...in my case, i needed to get a bunch of 'travel suits' and sundry "no-press" shirts etc so i could fly 4 times a week around the country and never look like a bag of shit. All of our work was 100% "Off-Site" (there was no 'office')

          i had written requests from employers on what to gear-up with. I can't remember if they actually provided me with that or if my tax guy asked them to provide one in order to itemize deductions, but in any case I'd had to drop a few grand into new togs and he said i could write off a portion of it.

          as for 'daily wear'... ugh. lycra blend wool? no thank you.

          1. Well, you got away with it, so good for you, but suits and shirts aren't deductible. Period. The IRS is pretty clear on this.

            It isn't enough that you wear distinctive clothing. The clothing must be specifically required by your employer. Nor is it enough that you don't, in fact, wear your work clothes away from work. The clothing must not be suitable for taking the place of your regular clothing.

            However, work clothing consisting of white cap, white shirt or white jacket, white bib overalls, and standard work shoes, which a painter is required by his union to wear on the job, isn't distinctive in character or in the nature of a uniform. Similarly, the costs of buying and maintaining blue work clothes worn by a welder at the request of a foreman aren't deductible.


            1. Maybe it wasn't deducted as "clothes" and just as "general business expenses" as a 1099?

              Who knows, but i doubt my guy would have bothered collecting all my reciepts and getting statements from my employer for the sake of nothing.

          2. lycra blend wool?

            What did the stretch suit do to you?

            1. Its not 'bad', per se. Its just that its not very nice. its sort of a must-have for travel blazers tho.

      3. I can now deduct the shit out of my clothes? Is that easier or harder than washing them?

    2. Depending on what he means by "invests in their children", it seems either a stupid demand (e.g. your point about clothes etc), or something that *is already tax-benefited*, like 529-plans for college savings, or existing child-tax-credits, which is already about $1000 bucks per sprog

      Basically, he seems to be pretending that the federal government hasn't ALREADY handed out lots of candy to parents with kids

      1. Yeah, I mean, the state literally pays you to have kids, so wtf.

        1. "the state literally pays you"

          well, tax *credits*, which can turn into transfer payments, sure.

          it an incentive program to create future taxpayers, said the social-security actuary.

          1. They can be "refundable," as long as you earn $3k/year.

    3. It's depressing that his idea is the typical one -- instead of dropping the industrial tax credits, he wants to expand them into children tax credits. Thus government stretches its tentacles.

    4. If medical care is so fundamental, why can't I write off all medical expenses?

      1. It start with an "F" and ends with an "uck you, that's why."

        1. You used to be able to write on medical expenses, but only if they were more that 1/7th of your adjusted gross. If you were merely laying out 1/8 of your adjusted gross, fuck you.

      2. Not everyone enjoys enemas as much as you do, Sug.

        1. I need that deep cleaning that only your tongue manages.

          1. I sprained it last time and guess what, not covered under Obamacare!

        2. But that's the quickest way to get the insulin up in there!

          1. Insulin? I thought sherry was where it was it for enemas. Gets you drunk real quick.

            1. The insulin is dissolved in the sherry, duh.

      3. I would assume that it is because you shouldn't have medical expenses worth deducting if you obey the law and buy the crap Obamacare health insurance that doesn't cover anything but still costs the same as the pre-Obamacare insurance that did.

    5. Taxing consumption goods is unfair!

      You assume education spending is a consumption good, while Rubio assumes it is an investment good. So, Rubio's complaint contains some logic, as businesses get to recoup taxes on investment spending - why can't parents do the same when they "invest" in their kids' education?

      I personally can't say whether education, especially in its current state, is really an investment good, though, so you may be right to criticize Rubio.

      1. No. The kids are the consumption good.

        1. OIC what you're getting at. Interesting. Well, kids used to be an investment good back before the state got involved in taking care of everyone's old-age needs. But I digress.

  2. Every once in a while, Rubio does something right, and it almost makes his public persona seem like a stage persona. The rest of the time, he does so many stereotypical political things that I wonder if he has any persona at all.

  3. Here's a thought: why not scrap the entire Tax Code and charge everyone a flat percentage rate of income that is paid annually.

    C-r-r-r-a-a-a-Z-Z-Z-Y talk!

    1. How about we never tax income to begin with?

      1. That's fucking anarchist talk. What are you, some kind of "libertarian"?

  4. If we got rid of the pink tax on tampons, would the tax still be charged to Episiarch when he buys tampons for his butt?

    1. "the pink tax on tampons"

      The pink tax is defined as the retail price differential between men's and women's versions of the same product-category.

      I was unaware there were "male-tampons".

      1. Let me mansplain this to you: It is also mentioned in conjunction with consumption taxes on feminine hygiene products.

        1. funny - that was the same link i failed.

          ""the extra amount women are charged for certain products or services. ""

          was the nut.

          the bit about tampons was here =

          ""You're not out of the drug store yet. If you have internal rather than external plumbing, you are going spend about $3,000 over the course of your life on pads or tampons too. Jessica Valenti wrote a piece in the Guardian last year wondering why these products weren't free or at least not taxed. The backlash was swift and vitriolic. You would have thought she had the nerve to say that Viagra shouldn't be covered by insurance, the bitch.",

          She's still not actually claiming that this spending "is part of the Pink Tax" as it was defined up to that point, but saying that "women have to buy shit men don't.... and that is therefore bad".

          The author doesn't actually have the nuts* (yes i sayd it) to endorse JV's proposal that the State make-everyone-equal-in-all-things, but merely points out that GRRR Men Are Such Dicks!!! for not at least pretending to listen and care.

          1. If you have internal rather than external plumbing,

            I haz a sad that no one pointed out the cis-shitlordedness of this statement. Internal plumbing =/= menstruation.

      2. I was unaware there were "male-tampons".

        The margins are so thin they don't advertise anywhere and distribution is non-existent.

        Make 'em pink, market them to women and... *bam*... the evil profit gods grant your every sexist wish.

    2. Most storekeepers charge Epi extra on principle.

    3. Those are Manpons, and yes, but it is tax on him specifically and not the product.

  5. I for one am glad to see the GOP candidates eliminating government agencies.

  6. I am a little confused to why we should assume that this represents anything other than virtue signaling?

    Yes Rubio has some policy proposals but they don't seem to have originated from his advisory board.

    The panel members gain a platform to discuss their issues, probably some face time with Marco, and Marco gets to show that he cares and believes is good Christian values. We don't need to read anything else into this.

  7. "It is a group devoted to embracing marriage as a tool for improving social and economic opportunities for Americans, gay or straight."

    There's the problem.

    It is not the government's job to pick winners or losers.

  8. "It is a group devoted to embracing marriage as a tool for improving social and economic opportunities for Americans, gay or straight."

    There's the problem.

    It is not the government's job to pick winners or losers.

    1. "It is not the government's job to pick winners or losers."

      ....'said every loser ever'

          1. I enjoy 5:09's devotion to his role. He's really giving it his best.

            1. That guy always gets the best rants.

              1. "Do you want to come into my world for 24 hours i gaurantee i will ruin your life"

                  1. BEST.

                    I should do something nice for you.

                    1. I should do something nice for you.

                      Money. Money is always good.

                  2. That is amazing. I didn't realize shreek was taking Tinder advice from Johnny Longtorso.

                  3. Nothing, nothing, beats the time they read one of Palin's Buttplug's texts.

                    Damn. All the details match up.

                    "Black People always think I'm Ashton Kutcher."

        1. +1 fitness... fitness DICK IN YO MOUTH

  9. Meanwhile, the Federal Marshals are now arresting people for failing to pay their federal student loans


    But hey, we have porn and gay marriage. So what is there to worry about?

    1. Let's make this thread about Kim Davis!!!!!!!!!!

    2. As long as they arrest the hipsters first, I am OK with this.

      1. I hate hipsters but I am definitely not okay with debters prison of any kind. This is horrible.

        1. I got to prison if I don't pay my taxes which cover those unpaid student loans.

          1. Sure Paul. If your failure to pay your debt results in a loss to the government, it is totally okay for the government to send you to prison. Yeah, that won't get out of hand or anything.

            And the fact that no one who took these loans was ever informed that going to jail was a possible consequence of failing to pay and in fact had no idea about that doesn't invalidate the contract or anything.

            1. I'm just being an ass. Of course I don't like debtors prison. That's why all college and healthcare hould be free, because it avoids this kind of thing.

        2. Congressman Gene Green says the federal government is now using private debt collectors to go after those who owe student loans.

          Green says as a result, those attorneys and debt collectors are getting judgements in federal court and asking judges to use the US Marshals Service to arrest those who have failed to pay their federal student loans.

          Ok, Mr Lawyer, how can a judgement in a civil matter be justification for an arrest warrant? Even the IRS uses garnishment. What the fuck is this about?

          1. Even the IRS uses garnishment.

            We're talking about people with college degrees. How much of a bartender's salary are you really going to get back in garnishment?

  10. South Carolina is an open primary state , so it's strange that they're fervently courting the Evangelical vote. It seems like future leader and ruler Donald Trump is courting the Democrats, which is probably a better strategy.

    1. The last guy that ran for President as an ardent supporter of Obama's policies won, why not use that strategy?

    2. Used to be you could vote in both parties' prez primaries in SC, but now that the state conducts the primaries, you have to choose. Which means if Trump courts Democrat votes there, he's helping Hillary get the nomination.

  11. No one fucking needs a goddamn advisory committee full of social-planning elitist lunkheads to architect a society spilling over fucking plastic families cracked like subservient pinheads from the same charlatan molds. Ideology or faith be damned. Fuck Rubio's nonsensical attempt to advertise his morality in this fashion.

    Your Libertarian backbone is becoming spongy, Shackford.

    Committees for the betterment of any society are baskets of loose knobs jostling for doors to close.

    1. Committees for the betterment of any society are baskets of loose knobs jostling for doors to close.

      I want this on a t-shirt. Or maybe one of those motivational posters.

      1. If you meditate on that sentence with perfect stillness there's a good chance that you'll attain satori and vanish from the material realm.

    2. "Committees for the betterment of any society are baskets of loose knobs jostling for doors to close."

      I'm in awe, Agile. That's beautiful.

      1. No kidding. Beautiful, and phrasing that I will quickly find a use for here at my hospital.

    3. Committees for the betterment of any society are baskets of loose knobs jostling for doors to close.

      You just pissed off pretty much every organization that funds NPR.

  12. "Of all the issues the Democrats have handed us, eliminating gay marriage is the one that will carry us to victory in November!"

    Yeah. Circular firing squad.

  13. "Of all the issues the Democrats have handed us, eliminating gay marriage is the one that will carry us to victory in November!"

    Yeah. Circular firing squad.

    1. I swear I only poked one squirrel.

      1. I read that as "porked one squirrel" and i was all "You asked for it, man."

      2. If only I had the skills of HM, you'd be looking now at a YouTube clip from The Last Boy Scout.

  14. "more to this council than just harping on the gays"

    In the same way that the Spanish were harping on the French in 1808 - in other words, not because they wanted to, but because the French forced it on them by invading them.

    The gay liberation crowd is simply outraged - all they did was overturn the laws of all the states and threaten businesses with crippling fines, and these dumb socons are getting all worked up about it!

    1. You should avoid using the word "invaded" on this subject, Eddie.

      1. Schlonged? Penetrated? Raped?

        1. *nods*

          Also apt to get dick jokes for responses. True. I see you're catching the idea.

    2. Its a real shame those people are being sued out of existence. Everyone knows no one at reason wanted that. But that doesn't give these people the excuse to stand up for themselves. Everyone knows it is a shame but that doesn't mean these people actually have rights or should be allowed to stand up for themselves.

  15. If it cheers you any, you probably needn't worry about Rubio on gay marriage. While he's telling the inbred, corn fed yokels in flyover country how icky the homos are, he's taking buckets of cash from Paul Singer and his deputy campaign manager is Rich Beeson, who famously broke party lines to sign an amicus brief in support of gay marriage.

    Of course, the Rs generally and Rubio in particular aren't going to win the white house in any case.

    1. f it cheers you any, you probably needn't worry about Rubio on gay marriage. While he's telling the inbred, corn fed yokels in flyover country how icky the homos are,

      Remember kids, collectivizing people is totally wrong and unlibertarian, except when it involves people we don't like or any group that popular culture says is okay to hate.

      1. I'm being sarcastic, of course, although I'm confident that's exactly how the craven political assholes like Rubio who say one thing while doing another actually think.

    2. So bottom line, maybe Cruz has a point about Rubio.

  16. Your family and earn. Start bringing $ 55 per hr just on a computer. Very easy way to make your life happy and earning continuously. Start ,, http://www.alpha-careers.com

  17. Sometimes that makes a lot of sense dude.


  18. The technology is so developed that we can watch videos, live streaming, TV serials and any of our missed programs within our mobiles and PCs. Showbox
    All we need is a mobile or PC with a very good internet connection. There are many applications by which we can enjoy videos, our missed programs, live streaming etc.

  19. After months of wishlists as well as forecasts, 2K Sports has actually NBA 2K18 ultimately disclosed which basketball celebrity is beautifying.

  20. App for your mobile phone. This app is the one of popular as well as trending whatsuply.com android app on your android mobile phone without having.

  21. Throughout the vacations and also aid you to earn worldwide phone calls https://ifacetimeapp.com Something I want to clear up for all; there is no main website.

  22. visit apkmoddy.com Need to download GTA 4 APK + OBB Data zip compressed files for Android? ... GTA IV Apk Android is an action-adventure game from Rockstar games. ... Let's see, you can download GTA 4 apk Obb data file for Android, shall we?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.