June 30, 2003
By Melissa G. Pardue
That's why President
Bush wants to spend $300 million next year to help new parents
build healthy marriages. That's about a penny for every $5 we spend
to help with the many problems caused by single-parent
enough. After all, a 1996 study published in the Journal of
Marriage and the Family showed both married men and married women
are happier than single people. And no wonder. Heritage Foundation
research proves that, on average, married people live longer,
have a better education, make more money and are less likely to
suffer from depression and anxiety.
the 1996 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent
Health proved children raised in single-parent homes are much
more likely to be depressed and to have developmental, behavioral
and emotional problems; such children are also more likely to fail
in school, use drugs and engage in early sexual
No one doubts that
marriage is good for all involved. Well, almost no one. A handful
of radical feminists are opposed to the president's measure.
"Finding a man -- the [Bush] administration's approved ticket out
of poverty -- is terrible public policy," says Kim Gandy, head of
the National Organization for Women. "Marrying women off to
get them out of poverty is not only backward, it is insulting to
Of course, the
president's plan doesn't attempt to force women, or men for that
matter, into unhealthy marriages. All participation in
the president's marriage program would be voluntary. In
general, programs would focus on younger couples before or around
the time of the birth of a first child. These are people who are
already dating, even living together, but have not tied the knot.
Almost all say they would like to marry their partner.
The initiative would
use successful marriage-skills education programs. Many of
these, such as one called "Couple Communication," have been in
use for decades. A 1999 analysis of that program in
the American Journal of Family Therapy found couples that took
the training experienced moderate to large gains in communication
skills, marital satisfaction, and other relationship qualities. The
pro-marriage initiative would go beyond merely seeking to increase
marriage rates among target couples. It also would provide ongoing
support to help at-risk couples maintain healthy marriages over the
Why are these feminists
so opposed to the initiative? Maybe because they're stuck in the
1960s, when bashing marriage was a staple of feminist dogma. Back
then, Marlene Dixon, a sociology professor at the University
of Chicago, wrote: "The institution of marriage is the chief
vehicle for the perpetuation of the oppression of women. It is
through the role of wife that the subjugation of women is
maintained." In 1970, radical feminist intellectual Shulamith
Firestone, chimed in, "The institution [of marriage] consistently
proves itself unsatisfactory-even rotten. The family is directly
connected to-is even the cause of-the ills of the larger
Luckily, today those
women are in the minority. During his 1994 State of the Union
address, President Clinton announced, "The American people have got
to want to change from within if we're going to bring back work and
family and community. We cannot renew our country when, within a
decade, more than half of the children will be born into families
where there has been no marriage." In fact, the radical feminist
animosity to marriage is not widely shared by any group within
American society, rich or poor, black, Hispanic or white. It would
be a tragedy for America's children and families if the NOW
Legal Defense Fund and similar radical groups succeeded in their
efforts to block or cripple the president's healthy marriage
The problem is that, in
Congress, such major feminist organizations enjoy considerable
influence. These groups, boxed in by the tired ideas of the past,
are spearheading the opposition to the president's
healthy marriage initiative.
Marriage, as an
institution, has enormous economic benefits for mothers and
children. Heritage Foundation research has shown that children
raised by never-married mothers are seven times more likely to be
poor when compared to children raised in intact married families.
In addition, a Heritage Foundation analysis of the National
Longitudinal Survey of Youth shows that stable marriage
dramatically improves the emotional well being of children. And a
1998 "General Social Survey" by the National Opinion Research
Center showed married people are more that twice as likely to
be happy as divorced or never married people are.
The president wants to
help support that, and Congress should ignore radical feminists and
support him. After all, spending $300 million to build healthy
marriages is a small investment that will pay big long-term
Appeared on FOXNews.com
Marriage works. That's why President Bush wants to spend $300 million next year to help new parents build healthy marriages. That's about a penny for every $5 we spend to help with the many problems caused by single-parent families.
Melissa G. Pardue
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