NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Should Government be Promoting Marriage?

February 4, 2002

Advocates of limited government think the government is doing a whole lot of things it has no business doing. Now the Bush administration is hinting it might create a $100 million fund to promote marriage. The rationale is that marriage is a tool for fighting poverty -- and the funds would come out of welfare programs.

But that prospect has rallied a diverse group of anti-poverty, feminist and unmarried-couple advocacy groups to fight any such move.

  • They argue that the decision to marry or remain single is personal and private -- and that tying the knot should not become a welfare program.
  • Some 44 percent of American adults aren't married and 11 million unmarried couples live together -- an increase of 72 percent since 1990.
  • One group, the Alternatives to Marriage Project, argues that government should remove existing financial incentives and disincentives to marriage -- since it does not give tax breaks for other beneficial activities, such as owning a pet or belonging to a religion.
  • Opponents of federal marriage promotion programs also point out that some people would be better off remaining single, referring to the dangers of spousal abuse in some marriages.

An education and a job, they argue, is a more reliable way out of poverty than marriage.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "Groups Question Marriage Initiative," Washington Times, February 4, 2002.


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