Senate Letter - 12/05
Smartmarriages& #174; Mailing List
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Wed Dec 7 16:09:51 EST 2005
Dear Friends of Healthy Marriage,
Here is a press release for our letter to US Senate Leadership. Please
distribute this letter to your local media. Getting the word out across
America is vital to the funding prospects.
And don¹t forget to call your US Senator and their staff THIS WEEK to ask
for their support for healthy marriage funding. To reach your Senator¹s
legislative staff, call the US Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
The Fatherhood and Marriage Leadership Institute (FAMLI)
For information contact Brandon Lerch at (720) 839-3947
December 7, 2005
Citing Divorce as Top Cause of Child Poverty, Pro-Marriage Groups Call On
U.S. Senate Leaders to Support Marriage Training
WASHINGTON, D.C., The Fatherhood and Marriage Leadership Institute (FAMLI)
released a letter today to the U.S. Senate leadership supporting the
allocation of $200,000,000 in federal welfare (TANF) funds for
marriage-strengthening programs. The letter carries almost 100 signatures
including national organizations, marriage professionals, researchers,
family groups, and grassroots advocates.
The $200 million in TANF funds is not new spending but rather a
reprogramming of various TANF performance bonuses to States.
$100,000,000 will be spent on competitive grants to State welfare agencies
to implement marriage strengthening initiatives. Another $100,000,000 will
be distributed in grants from the Department of Health and Human Services to
local organizations to implement marriage education and public awareness
³The breakdown of the traditional married two-parent family is a national
epidemic and it is punishing society¹s most vulnerable our children. It
is time we focused our energy on the root cause of poverty in America,² said
Chris Gersten, chair of the Fatherhood and Marriage Leadership Institute
(FAMLI) a recently formed group whose goal is to alleviate poverty through
marriage and fatherhood strengthening programs. Gersten is the former
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Administration on Children and
Families, Department of Health and Human Services, 2001-2004.
³Children from intact married families are far less likely to fail at
school, commit crimes, and suffer from emotional distress. Moreover,
Gersten explained, research also shows that married adults are happier, earn
more money, have better physical and mental health, and live longer.²
The House of Representatives includes healthy marriage funding within TANF
as part of its budget reconciliation bill. The Senate has not yet included
this important language. Action on this bill is expected before this
session of Congress ends.
-Nisa Mohammed of Black Marriage Day in Washington, DC
-Mark Buss of Marriage Matters of Iowa, Le Mars, IA
-Thomas McClusky of The Family Research Council, Washington D.C.
-Kay Reed of The Dibble Fund, Berkeley, CA
-Diane Sollee of Smart Marriages, Washington D.C.
-Addie Richburg of The National Alliance of Faith and Justice, Washington,
-Dr. Richard Land of The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty
Commission of Nashville, TN
Wednesday, November 22, 2005
U.S. Senate Leadership
Washington D.C. 20510
Dear Majority Leader Frist:
Healthy marriage is a key ingredient in the well-being of children, adults,
and society. The erosion of marriage during the past forty years has had
vast negative effects throughout the nation and lies at the heart of many of
the problems with which society and government currently grapple.
Today one third of all children are born outside marriage. Of those born
inside marriage, a great many children will experience parental divorce
before age 18. The erosion of marriage is the predominant cause of child
poverty in our society. Marital decline is also the principal cause of
welfare dependence; more than three quarters of means-tested welfare aid to
children goes to single parent families.
Growing up without a father in the home has harmful long-term
effects on children. Compared with similar children from intact families,
children raised in single-parent homes are more likely to become involved in
crime, to have emotional and behavioral problems, to fail in school, to
abuse drugs, and to end up on welfare as adults.
Marriage brings benefits to adults as well as
children. Extensive research shows that married adults are happier, are more
productive on the job, earn more, have better physical and mental health,
and live longer than their unmarried counterparts.
In recognition of the widespread benefits of
marriage to individuals and society, the landmark federal welfare reform
legislation enacted in 1996 set forth clear national goals: to increase the
number of two-parent families and to reduce out-of-wedlock childbearing.
Regrettably, in the years since this reform, most states have done little or
nothing to directly advance these objectives.
Recognizing this shortcoming, President Bush has
sought to fulfill the original goals of welfare reform by proposing a new
model program to promote healthy marriage as a part of welfare
reauthorization. The proposed program would seek to increase healthy
marriage by providing individuals and couples with:
· Accurate information on the value of marriage in the lives of men,
women, and children;
· Marriage-skills education that will enable couples to reduce conflict
and increase the happiness and longevity of their relationship; and
· Experimental reductions in the financial penalties against marriage
that are currently contained in all federal welfare programs.
The healthy marriage initiative would provide $200 million per year in
federal funds for marriage strengthening activities, but would not involve
any new costs. All funds would be re-directed from existing TANF bonus
funds that have proven ineffective.
All participation in the President¹s marriage program would be voluntary.
Specific activities would include: marriage education and relationship
skills training for unmarried low income couples prior to conception or at
the time of childbirth; pre-marital education for engaged couples; and
marriage enhancement and skills training for married couples to decrease the
probability of divorce; and public education campaigns on the value of
marriage and techniques to increase marital quality.
The initiative would utilize existing research-based marriage-skills
education programs that have proven effective in decreasing conflict and
increasing happiness and stability among couples. These skills can help
unmarried couples who are likely to bear children out-of-wedlock to form
happy stable marriages; they can also dramatically improve the quality of
relationships of currently married couples.
For decades, government has ignored this vital institution. In low income
communities, government welfare policy actively undermines marriage.
Tragically, government spends hundreds of billions each year to pick up the
pieces when marriage fails, yet does virtually nothing to preserve or
strengthen marriage. The healthy marriage initiative represents a bold
departure from this pattern of failed policy: for the first time government
will work to strengthen marriage. The new policy will address the root
causes of social problems rather than palliating symptoms.
Despite its great promise, the healthy marriage initiative remains stalled
in Congress. Over the last three years, the House has repeatedly enacted
welfare reform reauthorization legislation which included the healthy
marriage initiative; however, the Senate has consistently failed to act on
We urge the Senate to act on this vital issue immediately.
America¹s Foremost Healthy Marriage Experts and Advocates
cc: The Office of Senator Harry Reid, Minority Leader
The Office of Senator Mitch McConnell, Majority Whip
The Office of Senator Richard Durbin, Minority Whip
The Office of Senator Charles Grassley, Finance Committee
The Office of Senator Max Baucus, Finance Committee Ranking Member
The Office of Senator Mike Enzi, HELP Committee Chairman
The Office of Senator Edward Kennedy, HELP Committee Ranking
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