I recently had a conversation with an elderly man in the grocery store. He bumped into my cart which led to him sharing how lost he felt since his wife passed. They were married over 50 years and she was an expert at list making and grocery shopping. This kind man had a cart full of potato chips, canned chili and a big fluffy dog waiting for him in his car. As we talked I felt sadness over the loss of his wife but a longing for the marital success they’d accomplished.

We know healthy marriages are the foundation of strong families and strong families are the backbone of a flourishing society. That’s why I find the news that Connecticut marriages are declining, so troubling. A Hartford Courant editorial reports data from the 2014-2015 U.S Census which reveals:

* The percentage of never-married men has increased at the highest rate in the nation since 2010, from 34.2 percent to 37.1 percent in 2015.

* Connecticut experienced the biggest decrease in the number of married-couple families with young children in the lower 48, down 2.57 percent.

In addition to our marriage rates, the birth rate for millennial women is decreasing:

* The number of women in Connecticut between 20 and 34 who had a birth in the prior year dropped at the highest rate in the nation, by 6.9 percent. Since 2010, the decrease is 14.74 percent.

In light of this data it’s mind boggling that our state political leaders and pro-choice organizations are continually fighting for policies that would even further the decline of families. Pro-choice activists shout that abortion access is being threatened in a state that doesn’t have basic parental notification laws and is experiencing a decrease in births in the age group that many start families.

In addition the Family Institute of Connecticut has fought legislation for a proposed marriage tax, SB 1011, that would place an unneeded burden on low income families seeking to wed. Matthew Burke from FIC spoke against this tax in March of this year. Supporters of the bill argue that a higher tax on marriage would be beneficial to raise fund for domestic violence programs in our state. I fully respect and the support the work of domestic violence programs. I’m in good relationship with one in my county and refer women to their services whenever it’s needed. I agree with Burke’s testimony in which he states that further funding for domestic violence programs can be taken from different sources. Burke proposes that additional funding come through higher taxes on pornographic media and hook up apps which contribute to sexual assult and violence, instead of marriage which prevents those things.

The Heritage Foundation has a report using ten years worth of data from the National Crime Victimization Survey used by the U.S. Department of Justice which shows that mothers who are or ever have been married are far less likely to suffer from violent crime than mothers who never marry. Since marriage is a deterrent to domestic violence, why should it be taxed to raise funds to prevent it? It’s a far better idea for the state to take some of the over $5 million dollars they gave to Planned Parenthood last year and reallocate those funds to domestic violence and sex assault groups. Especially since there’s a link between sexual assault and abortion as the groundbreaking study The Health Consequences of Sex Trafficking and Their Implications for Identifying Victims in Healthcare Facilities, proves.

In that study Laura J. Lederer and Christopher A. Wetzel looked into the cases of sixty-six victims of sex trafficking. They discovered fifty-five percent of the women had undergone at least one abortion while being trafficked and more than thirty percent underwent multiple abortions. Their research showed that a quarter of the underage trafficked women visited Planned Parenthood and other providers for abortions and contraceptives, but many were never asked whether they were being coerced to engage in sexual activity or have an abortion. It’s bad for a pimp’s business if girls get pregnant and abortion is used as an aid in enabling sex traffickers.

FIC Action defeated the tax on marriage certificates during the regular legislative session but with plans to pass a state budget, the tax could be reintroduced. With marriage rates declining in CT the last thing we need is another tax on them. Instead lets work to shift funds away from organizations like Planned Parenthood that decrease families and enact parental notification laws to prevent sexual assault and trafficking of minors. Let’s make Connecticut a safer and more desirable place to settle, marry and raise a family.