A Wave of Initiatives to Promote Marriage ; Interest Groups Concerned with Aggressive Moves to Legislate Most Personal of Institutions

By Gail Russell Chaddock writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 4, 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Wave of Initiatives to Promote Marriage ; Interest Groups Concerned with Aggressive Moves to Legislate Most Personal of Institutions


Gail Russell Chaddock writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Call it Bush v. Murphy Brown: the rematch. After the spring of 1992, when Vice President Dan Quayle denounced CBS TV character Murphy Brown for bearing a child alone and calling it "just another lifestyle choice," the vice president's moralistic tone became grist for political humorists for years to come.

Now, a new Bush administration and GOP Congress are reengaging in the nation's culture war, once again focusing on the institution of marriage. But this time, they say, no one is laughing - evidence showing the benefits of marriage to children is more compelling than ever.

From a proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage to new funding for programs to promote "healthy" marriage at the state level, Washington is making an unprecedented move into one of the most private and pivotal institutions in American life.

"In a remarkably short period of time, we have moved past the question of whether government ought to be involved in supporting healthy marriages to the ques- tion of how government should be involved," said Wade Horn, assistant Secretary for children and families in the Department of Health and Human Services, before a Senate panel last week.

So far, many of the new moves are modest - and in their infancy. But critics say that such programs could involve government in a relationship where it does not belong, and produce misguided policy, including encouraging women and children to stay in a possibly violent household.

New federal moves are wide-ranging. Among them: eliminating barriers to marriage - such as the permanent repeal of the so- called "marriage penalty" in the US tax code, which the House passed last week, and a pending rewrite of national welfare laws to provide $300 million in incentives for programs to promote "healthy" married families.

Meanwhile, several states have also launched a spate of new initiatives, with the most detailed legislation coming out of the conservative South and Southwest. Since the mid-1990s, all states have made at least one policy change to promote marriage or reduce divorce.

Forty now fund couples- and marriage-related services. And 36 have revised their welfare eligibility rules to include two- parent families. Nine states now offer bonuses for marriage.

"It is worth noting that there is little marriage-related policy activity in the northeastern states, and two of the three most populous states [California and New York] have no appreciable state marriage initiatives," according to a new report by the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington.

In Senate hearings last week, lawmakers also discussed whether Washington should make it harder for couples to end a marriage, by challenging several states' "no-fault" divorce laws.

"Tell me the wisdom of a system where it is easier to get a marriage license than a hunting license, or where it is easier to get out of a marriage than a Tupperware contract," said former Gov. Frank Keating (R) of Oklahoma before a Senate panel on "Healthy Marriage" last week.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

A Wave of Initiatives to Promote Marriage ; Interest Groups Concerned with Aggressive Moves to Legislate Most Personal of Institutions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?