What I’m Thinking Right Now: That the pro- family movement might be better served defending laws like this one – and the broader right of local housing codes to discriminate based on marital status where children are involved
I’m not sure that I see what the advantages are. I assume Douthat’s talking about zoning laws that severely limit the number of people that can live in a house who aren’t related (through blood or marriage). Now, I agree that children do better with married parents. But I don’t see how one can think these sorts of zoning laws are a big blow in favor of the family unless you think that
(1) children and marriages do worse when in neighborhoods where some are shacking up. But while I think this might be true to some extent, given the power of example, media portrayals are more worrisome and less tractable;
(2) zoning laws that discriminate in favor of families in certain areas lower the cost of having a family. But while probably true, there are less roundabout ways to subsidize family. An expanded child credit or even a direct housing subsidy is probably a better idea, unless the concern is that politically it would be hard to limit such a program to married families;
(3) zoning laws that discriminate in favor of families will discourage shacking up and encourage marriage. But this is unlikely. Most people don’t know diddly about the zoning laws and most zoning laws of this sort aren’t enforced until 8 college students move into a house.
Where Douthat is right is that the pro-family movement has a real interest in defending the legality of these kinds of zoning laws. If courts decide that distinctions between married and non-married are indefensible and irrational, we’re in trouble.