Boardmember Martin Luther King Jr’s Daughter In Law: Pushed To The Alter

Executive Summary Re: Bush Administration: Pushed To The Alter

Pushed to the Altar: by Dr. Jean V. Hardisty
Administration marriage promotion initiatives (August 2007)

Executive Summary

January, 2008

This report is the result of a two-year investigation by political
scientist Jean Hardisty into the George W. Bush Administration' s
marriage promotion and fatherhood initiatives. Dr. Hardisty locates
these initiatives within the context of the Right's family values
ideology and investigates their scope, scale, intellectual and
operational origins, merits, and outcomes. Pushed to the Altar: The
Right Wing Roots of Marriage Promotion is the most comprehensive
examination to date of the ideological roots of these programs.*
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In 2001 the newly installed Administration of George W. Bush
appointed Wade Horn as Assistant Secretary for Children and Families
at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The appointment
presaged a substantial shift in federal social welfare policy. Horn
had served as the titular head of the rightist fatherhood movement
during the 1990s. At HHS, he was to use the Administration' s
redefined and expanded faith-based initiatives (among other means) to
support organizations that encourage women - especially welfare
recipients - to marry their way out of poverty.

The Administration' s success in promoting this agenda can be seen in
Congress' allocation of $100 million annually for marriage promotion
programs over fiscal years 2006–2010 (a total of $500 million) as
part of welfare reauthorization in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act.
Such Congressional funding for marriage promotion was preceded, and
continues to be supplemented, by a variety of Executive Branch and
state government grant programs.

Wade Horn's appointment to HHS illustrates the close ties between the
Bush Administration and various right-wing opinion makers,
intellectuals, advocacy groups, and mass-based organizations. Since
2001, Horn and The Heritage Foundation have been leading strategists
of the Right's agenda for "welfare reform." For the fatherhood
movement, conservative opponents of liberal antipoverty programs, and
the Christian Right, the Bush Administration has provided a golden
opportunity to promote marriage as a cure for poverty,
and "responsible fatherhood" as a means to restore community health
as they envision it.

What follows is a summary of the findings in Pushed to the Altar: The
Right Wing Roots of Marriage Promotion.

The arguments in favor of marriage and fatherhood promotion as a cure
for poverty are ultimately ideological in nature. There is no solid
evidence from the social sciences that marriage results in a higher
income for poor women.

The George W. Bush Administration' s ideology, policies, and programs
on marriage and fatherhood show how thoroughly politicized U.S.
welfare policy has become. Conservatives who maintain that marriage
and fatherhood will cure poverty are relying on two major sources:
the analysis of sociologist George Gilder - specifically Gilder's
assertion that marriage and fatherhood channel men's aggression and
lack of work ethic toward work and maintaining the family; and the
late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's 1965 government report, in
which he concluded that female-headed households were dysfunctionaland that the African-American community was plagued
by "fatherlessness, " resulting in a culture of pathology. These are
examples of bad science: reducing the explanation for phenomena as
complex as family formation and poverty alleviation to one single
causal factor: heterosexual marriage.

The assertion that marriage will cure poverty and end fatherlessness
is simply unproven. The Administration' s agenda is to
replace "liberal" programs that are known to raise people out of
poverty with programs that advance conservatives' social and economic
goals but have no record of reducing poverty.

Government marriage promotion experiments are funded at the expense
of proven poverty relief programs.

As federal and state allocations for marriage promotion and
fatherhood programs have dramatically increased, welfare benefits
themselves have steadily fallen. While reducing welfare benefits,
implementing "disincentives" for welfare recipients to have children
(such as the "child exclusion" provision), and implementing a five-
year lifetime cutoff for welfare recipients, the Bush Administration,
Congress, and some states now lavish money on untested and unproven
fatherhood and marriage promotion experiments. This redirection of
benefits intended for lowincome families and those unable to meet
their own needs is the equivalent of taking food from the table of
the hungry. Policies known to alleviate poverty - subsidized housing,
health care, child care, and the provision of meaningful educational
and job training opportunities - are not being vigorously promoted
under the present Administration.

Government funding for marriage promotion projects exceeds $100
million annually.

Executive Branch departments, including HHS and the Justice
Department, make marriage promotion grants. State governments also
fund a number of marriage promotion programs - some paid for with
federal Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) block grants and some
funded by the states themselves. Finally, Congress has allocated
substantial resources for marriage promotion programs. The
multiplicity of funding sources and the commingling of federal faith-
based and marriage promotion initiatives makes it difficult to
establish exactly how much state and federal money goes to support
marriage promotion programs. We do know the following:

The 2005 Deficit Reduction Act allocated $100 million annually for
marriage promotion programs and $50 million for fatherhood programs
for fiscal years 2006–2010, or a total of $750 million;
The Administration' s Charitable Choice Fund, which in 2004 had a
budget of $2 billion, has made grants in furtherance of marriage
Some of the $30 million, HHS-administered Compassion Capital Fund
underwrites marriage promotion projects;
HHS' Healthy Marriage Initiative has made grants both before and
since passage of the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act; and
State funds, as well as federal TANF funds, are directed to state
marriage programs.
Government-funded marriage promotion and fatherhood programs are
varied and numerous.

Marriage promotion programs developed by the Bush Administration,
with the assistance of The Heritage Foundation and other rightist
think tanks, are now being implemented across the country, including:
Public advertising campaigns and high school programs on the value of
marriage;Marriage education for nonmarried pregnant women and nonmarried
expectant fathers; Premarital education and marriage skills training for engaged couples
and for couples or individuals interested in marriage;
Marriage enhancement and marriage skills training programs for
married couples;Divorce reduction programs that teach relationship skills;
Marriage mentoring programs which use married couples as role models
and mentors in at-risk communities; andPrograms to reduce the disincentives to marriage in means-tested aid
programs, if offered in conjunction with any activity described
above.Government marriage promotion initiatives are intertwined with the
dramatic erosion of Church/State separation under the Bush
Administration' s faith-based initiatives.
An increase in federal funding for marriage promotion has
corresponded with the Bush Administration' s funding for faith-based
initiatives. A line item in the 2002 federal budget created the
HHSadministered $30 million "Compassion Capital Fund" to channel
federal money to faith-based groups at the local level. By 2006, the
Administration was disbursing $2.1 billion to various faith-based
organizations and programs.

Although the federal government has long funded religious charities,
it previously stipulated that they receive the money through a
secular arm and adhere to strict rules for separation of church and
state, including bans on religiously- based discrimi- nation in hiring
and worship in programs funded. The Bush Administration has resisted
these restrictions and, failing to win Congressional approval,
implemented its "Charitable Choice" initiative by administrative
fiat. The Administration is currently facing lawsuits, which charge
that some faith-based organizations supported by this Fund are
illegally introducing the Bible into government-funded programs.

The arguments for government marriage promotion programs often
reflect racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes, and the programs
themselves disproportionately target communities of color -
especially African Americans.

The Right has been able to mobilize the racial resentment of large
numbers of White voters by stereotyping welfare recipients as African-
American and demonizing them as women of loose sexual morals who are
prone to defraud government agencies. Avoiding explicit statements
about the inferiority of people of color, the Right instead developed
an analysis of virtue and achievement as "colorblind" - adhering to
individuals regardless of race. The Right refuses to acknowledge
systemic racism and gender discrimination and characterizes poverty
or exclusion as the fault of the individual.

Because many families in low-income communities of color do not
conform to the model heterosexual, nuclear family configuration,
conservative marriage and fatherhood promoters view such communities
as their most challenging project. HHS' Healthy Families Initiative
administers special initiatives for African-American, Hispanic, and
Native American communities that promote the nuclear family model and
emphasize the father as the principal determinant of the success of
both children and the family. Thus, the State is constructing
marriage as the only acceptable means of family formation.

Government marriage promotion efforts emerged from and reinforce the
work of rightist fatherhood groups and Christian Right organizations.

Central to the Right's identity is its crusade to restore the
heterosexual nuclear family as the only approved social unit worthy
of the name "family." By 2000 and the arrival of the George W. Bush
Administration, the Right was able to mount strong campaigns, carried
out by the movement's infrastructure, to bring that ideological
commitment to bear on public policy. Key examples of such campaigns

The Southern Baptist Convention's Resolution on Ordination and the
Role of Women in Ministry; The Promise Keepers movement, with its massive revival rallies
emphasizing the importance of men assuming leadership within their
marriages and families; The Christian Coalition's Contract with the American Family, which
anticipated the Bush Administration' s Charitable Choice initiative;
Covenant marriage, a voluntary option that makes divorce nearly
impossible; and Opposition to same-sex marriage, as with passage of the federal
Defense of Marriage Act (1996). As of 2006, 40 states had enacted
laws denying recognition of same-sex marriage.
While the momentum for conservative marriage promotion has come from
the Right, liberals and centrists have not vigorously opposed it and
sometimes have supported it.

An overlooked element of the punitive 1996 welfare reform legislation
signed by President Bill Clinton was its emphasis on marriage as a
means to lift recipients out of poverty. The bill opened the door to
the use of TANF money to promote "healthy marriage."

As liberals and centrists became a minority voice in 2000, and their
support for existing welfare programs weakened, the public
increasingly supported a stereotype of welfare recipients as people
undeserving of help and incapable of benefiting from it. A strong
antipoverty Democratic platform and a wellfunded and highly active
welfare rights movement will be required to reverse the damage done
by "welfare reform."

Marriage and fatherhood promotion also have liberal, and even
progressive, variants and proponents.
Progressive fatherhood and marriage organizations of color are less
attached to the traditional nuclear family model than are
conservative fatherhood organizations. Such organizations encourage
fathers, whether married or not, to become more involved in their
children's lives, both emotionally and financially, and to develop a
better relationship with a child's mother.

A small movement of profeminist fatherhood organizations works on
issues such as: the problems that male supremacy causes within the
family; how the politics of masculinity often appears to condone
violence in U.S. culture; and their own privilege as men.


The measure of a social movement's lasting success is the extent to
which its ideology and policy proposals become dominant in the
country, and eventually become law. When George W. Bush assumed the
Presidency in 2000, the contemporary Political Right for the first
time had control of both the Executive Branch and Congress, creating
an opportunity for it, as a movement, to reap the full benefits of
success and power. Primary among these benefits has been
implementation of the programs and policies that reflect the
movement's ideology.

Marriage is a boon to some people and a nightmare for others. Rather
than acknowledging the complexity of ever-accelerating modernity and
the changes for better and worse that it brings, the Right would have
government revive television's "Ozzie and Harriet" version of the
1950s heterosexual nuclear family. Although government could play a
constructive role in providing support services for low-income women
and men, it will not do so if the programs are driven by hidden
ideological and/or religious agendas rather than a commitment to
safety, self-empowerment, and financial security.

It is up to the public and policy makers to take a stand against
ideologically- driven programs and to demand implementation of proven
methods of addressing poverty, remembering that the social and
economic harm of the Right's programs are visited on the most
vulnerable women and their families.

Policy Recommendations:
1. A return to policies known to alleviate poverty - subsidized
housing, health care, child care, and the provision of educational
and job training opportunities, provided without resentment, in a
supportive environment, and with federal money;

2. Federal support for: groups fighting poverty; groups advocating
for the rights of welfare recipients; and groups providing services
to low-income people without racial, religious, sexual preference, or
gender discrimination;

3. Protecting women from violence (now acknowledged in current
marriage promotion policies) should be at the center of all
government and private antipoverty programs;

4. The elimination of the five-years-in- a-lifetime limit on welfare

5. The elimination of the "child exclusion provision" or "family
cap," and the "illegitimacy bonus," changes that would defend the
right of low-income women to bear and raise children;

6. Comprehensive federally-funded jobs, housing, and health care
programs that address the needs of those low-income families that
fall "between the cracks" of the current, punitive Personal
Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA)

7. The reversal of exclusionary provisions that deny social services
to documented and undocumented immigrants;

8. Objective social science research to examine the social and
economic consequences of the expenditure of federal money to promote
marriage among low-income women and men; and

9. A federally-funded public education effort to counteract the last
twenty-five years of ideologically driven demonization of low-income
people, especially welfare recipients, with special emphasis on
institutional and systemic causes of poverty.
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -
* The second half of this Marriage Promotion Report Series is the
forthcoming: Marriage as a Cure for Poverty? Social Science Through
a "Family Values" Lens (Somerville, MA and Oakland, CA: Political
Research Associates and Women of Color Resource Center: 2008). It
will examine conservative marriage promoters' questionable attempts
to find support for their policy recommendations in social science

here is the link to the article
http://www.publicey ealtar/index. html
Tags: rights, abuse, child, civil, constitutional, discrimination, domestic, human, violence

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