Thursday, January 27

marriage promotion

Yesterday, I was "busy at work" and came across the fact that the US Health and Human Services department has allocated $300 million dollars toward marriage promotion. Huh? What's that? Why are we spending tax dollars on promoting the private choice of finding someone to spend the rest of your life with?

Here's what the National Conference of State Legislatures says...

Supporting Healthy Marriage
The budget proposes a competitive matching grant program for states, territories, and tribes to develop innovative approaches to health marriage and reducing out-of-wedlock births. The grants require a dollar for dollar match of federal funds. Including the match, the amount available would be $240 million. The federal funds for this effort would largely be redirected from the High Performance Bonus fund in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.

The budget also includes a $120 million annual fund to conduct research and demonstration projects largely focused on family formation and marriage. This provision would principally be funded by eliminating the Illegitimacy Reduction Bonus in the TANF program.

Though I don't align myself with any particular religion here is something I found on the Unitarian Universalists site...

On August 22, 1996, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) was enacted. The law codified four purposes of welfare reform. Three of the four addressed marriage and family formation:
"to end dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage"
"to prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies"
"to encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families."

Rewarding States With Two-Parent Families: Starting in 2002 as part of the 1996 welfare reform law, a $20 million dollar "family formation" measure will award the 10 states with the largest increase in the percent of children, below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, who reside in married, two-parent families.

Proposed Federal Marriage Initiatives: The Bush Administration has proposed spending $100 million annually from the TANF budget to fund experimental marriage promotion programs in selected states. The money would come from the failed "illegitimacy bonus" initiative described earlier. As much as another $200 million also would be spent on marriage promotion initiatives.
Three bills pending in Congress would fund fatherhood programs to help fathers and their families avoid or leave cash welfare by providing employment services. All of the bills would require participating programs to promote marriage through marriage counseling, education, divorce reduction, and other similar services. The bills are the Responsible Fatherhood Act of 2001 (S.653/H.R. 1300), the Strengthening Working Families Act of 2001 (S.685) and the Child Support Distribution Act of 2001 (H.R. 1471).

As Unitarian Universalists, we believe marriage is held in honor among the blessings of life, and affirm the worth and dignity of every person. In the case of marriage promotion, we speak out strongly against the President's decision to designate $300 million dollars for marriage promotion programs. The President's proposal would require each state to use TANF funds for marriage promotion activities, and the federal government could opt to withhold all TANF funds if a state did not comply. Funding for marriage promotion diverts money from programs that are proven to assist families as they work toward economic security. In addition, not only is marriage a personal, private act in which the government should not intrude, the allocation of funds to marriage promotion programs denies relationship support services to gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender families, single parents, and those who choose not to marry. These initiatives demonstrate that marriage would be prioritized as a public policy goal over the goal of promoting self-sufficiency for single parent led families.

I don't like it for multiple reasons, but coming from the red state folks, doesn't seems like it's destined to be successful.


At 11:32 AM, Blogger cassi said...

i'm a unitarian! christen calls it "flip-flop church" because when i was going home for xmas i asked my mom if i should bring nice clothes, maybe for church... and she said "cassi, we're unitarians. you could wear jeans and flip-flops if you wanted."

yeah. says a lot. but we are smart.


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