The Bush Administration’s plans for the nation’s welfare system include $100 million for states to encourage their poor to marry. Assistant Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary of Children and Families Wade Horn indicated that the funds could be used to promote pre-marital education and initiatives to “talk about the importance of marriage.” Critics of marriage promotion are calling on the Bush Administration to focus solely on reducing poverty, not on encouraging one particular lifestyle or discriminating against single women.
According to NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (NOW LDEF), 90 percent of welfare recipients are women. None of these women should be coerced into marriage by the government. In a letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, NOW LDEF states “Marriage does not address the root causes of women’s poverty and is not a reliable long term solution to women’s poverty.” Domestic violence, divorce, and death all jeopardize low-income women, if marriage is touted as a solution to ending poverty. Marriage also does not guarantee a better economic quality of life. Nearly 40 percent of children living in poverty also live in two-parent homes.