Saturday, March 22, 2008
THE LIES BEHIND "MARRIAGE PROMOTION"
The bus shelters in my city, Washington, DC, are plastered with full-length posters of brides and grooms and simply stated messages like "Married people earn more money" and "Marriage works" and "Kids with married parents do better in school." This public relations campaign is one more example of "marriage promotion," the activities that the federal government funds to the tune of $750 million. The message behind these efforts is that all our social problems -- poverty, illiteracy, chronic illness, substance abuse, violence, infant mortality, and so on -- are caused by the decline of life-long heterosexual marriage. This message is a lie. Two excellent sources for the truth are Bella DePaulo's book, Singled Out, and a report from the SIECUS public policy office, Legalized Discrimination. In chapter four of my book, Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage, I point out that blaming social problems on those who don't get and stay married relieves both the government and the market of any responsibility for those problems, diverting attention from the public disgrace of income inequality, inadequate health care, and poor schools. Just say "No!" to public funding of marriage promotion! Instead, let's take effective measures to reduce poverty.