- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

A bipartisan group of marriage educators and researchers say they may not agree on who

should be in the White House or whether homosexuals should be allowed to “marry,” but they believe government funding for marriage education is an idea whose time has come.

“We are marriage educators, scholars, civic leaders and others who support the [Bush] administration’s marriage initiative,” says a statement signed by nearly 40 social science researchers, which will be released today during a conference at the National Press Club.

“We disagree on some issues. For example, we disagree on who should be the next president,” the statement says. “We also disagree on the issue of same-sex marriage. Some of us support it. Others of us oppose it. Some of us are undecided.

“But we all support this marriage initiative,” says the statement, whose signers include David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher, Harvard University professor Mary Ann Glendon, David Popenoe of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, Diane Sollee of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, therapist Stephen Stosny, Roland Warren of the National Fatherhood Initiative and James Q. Wilson of the University of California Los Angeles.

Marriage funding has been a national topic since January, when a front-page New York Times article implied that the Bush administration either had just made or was about to make an announcement about $1.5 billion for marriage funds.

Much of the attention was mocking. Columnist and gadfly Arianna Huffington called the Bush marriage initiative the “Leave No Bride Behind Act” and suggested that divorced and remarried Republican leaders Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich and Phil Gramm be used in “mentoring programs that use married couples as role models.”

Lisalyn Jacobs, vice president of the National Organization for Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, argued that spending money to help low-income parents marry was a waste of taxpayer funds. “The fact is, you can be married and poor. But you can’t be poor with a good-paying job,” she said.

At today’s conference, marriage supporters plan to debunk the idea that the marriage funding is a new, election-year “political ploy intended to please religious and social conservatives.”

The pro-marriage movement began in the 1990s, they said. The Bush administration began its marriage initiative in 2001, Mr. Bush’s first year in office, and the legislation for $1.5 billion in marriage funding over five years was introduced in 2002 in the welfare bill, which has not yet passed.

Earlier this month, the Bush budget in February proposed increasing the marriage money to $360 million a year, including state matching money, for the marriage initiative. The funds are for demonstration projects, classes, curricula, materials, media campaigns and other pro-marriage activities.

The sponsors of today’s conference are the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education; the Dibble Fund for Marriage Education; the Institute for American Values; the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy; the National Fatherhood Initiative; and the National Marriage Project.

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