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Bush Plans $1.5 Billion Initiative on Marriage

The White House announced a plan last week to spend $1.5 billion over the next five years to help poor families have “healthy marriages.” This money will be spent on training couples to develop interpersonal skills that should sustain “healthy marriages.” Women’s groups have expressed concerns about government promotion of marriage. “Such programs intrude on personal privacy, may ignore the risk of domestic violence and may coerce women to marry, said Timothy Casey, a lawyer at NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, according to the New York Times.

In his State of the Union address last night, Bush promised to fight to protect the “sanctity of marriage.” In a carefully worded passage of his speech, Bush indicated that a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman might be necessary, but he stopped short of supporting it. He said that “if judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process.” Bush administration officials fear that this issue may put the president in a bind during his re-election campaign by turning away some possible Republican voters such as suburban women who would see a constitutional amendment as being intolerant, the Times reports.

Tony Perkins, president of the right-wing Family Research Council, said Bush’s comments were too noncommittal. “The president should immediately call upon Congress to pass an amendment this year to the Constitution codifying into law what history and nature has taught us: Marriage is between a man and a woman,” Perkins told the Los Angeles Times.

According to Reuters, Cheryl Jacques, the president of Human Rights Campaign, said, “It’s ironic that the administration is launching an initiative to promote marriages while at the same time considering an amendment that would deny the security, stability and protections of marriage to millions of American same-sex couples.”

According to Reuters, Cheryl Jacques, the president of Human Rights Campaign, said, “It’s ironic that the administration is launching an initiative to promote marriages while at the same time considering an amendment that would deny the security, stability and protections of marriage to millions of American same-sex couples.”

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Sources:

Washington Post 1/20/04; Reuters 1/18/04; New York Times 1/14/04, 1/15/04