Texas Eyes Welfare Funds to Promote Marriage; Hopes Premarital Education Will Cut Divorce Rate, Social Costs
Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Texas may soon join a growing list of states that use some of their federal welfare funds for promoting healthy couples' relationships and strengthening marriage.
One bill before Gov. Rick Perry - HB 2683 - would provide $7.5 million a year for premarital education classes, marriage-enrichment activities and programs to help unwed parents strengthen their relationships.
A separate bill, HB 2685, would double Texas' marriage-license fee to $60, but waive it - and a 72-hour waiting period - for couples who take an eight-hour premarital education class.
Texas House Appropriations Committee Chairman Warren Chisum, a Republican, pushed the measures, saying if more money is spent on the "front end" of family formation, less money would have to be spent on the "back end," caring for families after separation and divorce.
Chris Gersten, who founded the Fatherhood and Marriage Leadership Institute (FAMLI) to encourage marriage through political action, applauded the Texas bills.
It "elevates the value of marriage in the community," said Mr. Gersten, a former official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
FAMLI advocates a "1 percent solution," in which states set aside 1 percent of their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal welfare grant to encourage "the formation and maintenance of two-parent families."
If Mr. Perry signs HB 2685, Texas will join several other states that have allocated funds from TANF or other state sources for marriage promotion, Mr. …