- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 12, 2002

Two-thirds of Americans support using "surplus welfare funds" on programs that "strengthen marriage, reduce divorce and out-of-wedlock births," says a new survey released by a national marriage-education group.
Thirty-four percent of 1,016 American adults "strongly favor" the idea of using welfare funds to support marriage, while another third 32 percent somewhat favor it, said Diane Sollee, director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, which released the survey from Opinion Research Corp. on Thursday.
Twelve percent "somewhat" opposed the idea of government-funded marriage programs, and 14 percent "strongly opposed" it. Eight percent were undecided.
The survey, taken May 3-6, "shows that for most Americans, support for marriage is not a controversial idea. It clearly cuts across racial, ethnic and class lines," Miss Sollee said. "For most Americans," she added, "the idea of using a tiny fraction of surplus welfare dollars to strengthen marriage, reduce divorce and unmarried childbearing is a no-brainer."
The issue captured attention after the Bush administration proposed offering states as much as $300 million a year in funding and matching grants for activities to promote marriage.
House Republicans included the Bush proposal in their welfare bill, which is scheduled to be voted on May 15
Many senators also support the idea, at least in general.
Liberal and feminist groups, however, have criticized the idea of publicly funded marriage counseling, especially to single mothers.
There's no public support for such programs, say groups such as the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, referring to a poll taken of 2,000 in late February by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
The Pew poll asked whether the government should "start up programs that encourage people to get and stay married." Nearly 80 percent of respondents said no.
The Opinion Research poll, which was commissioned by marriage researcher and author Maggie Gallagher, revealed strong public support for marriage.
Sixty-seven percent said it was "very important" for poor children's well-being that "their parents get and stay married."
Fifty-five percent "strongly favor" pilot programs to refer "interested couples to marriage education and preparation programs."


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