Advocates: Marriage Good for Children and Taxpayers

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Adrienne S. Gaines

Traditional marriage is not only good for children, it’s
good for taxpayers.

So say traditional marriage advocates who are participating
in a weeklong initiative aimed at promoting marriage. The leaders of National
Marriage Week
, which began Sunday and runs through Feb. 14, say building a
“marriage culture” helps curtail poverty and the fatherlessness that influences
high incarceration rates.

“The alarming drop in marriage rates in America combined
with high divorce rates are costly to the nation-financially costly to
taxpayers and individuals, and emotionally costly to children,” said Chuck
Stetson, chairman of National Marriage Week USA. “The nation needs to pay
attention.”

The group points to research that shows single mothers have
lower household incomes than married couples, children from two-parent homes
have higher graduation rates and that a majority of juvenile and adult inmates
come from fatherless homes.

“Marriage works,” said Sheila Weber, executive director of
National Marriage Week. “Research shows that marriage makes people happier,
live longer, and build more economic security.”

National Marriage Week leaders point to a 2008 study by the Institute for American Values that found divorce and unwed childbearing costs U.S. taxpayers $112 billion a year because of increased federal expenditures on antipoverty, criminal
justice and education programs.


“There is a definite
economic impact when we allow marriages to fail and unwed parenthood to grow,
and taxpayers see that in the budget when they see the expenditures for Health
and Human Services and the Department of Justice,” said
New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate Karen Testerman, who participated in a press conference
Monday morning to kick off National Marriage Week activities in her state.

“I think it’s really
important that we look at not bandaging all of the fallout from fractured
families, but we start looking at what’s causing the bleeding in the first
place and start to address that,” she added.

Governors in Georgia
and Utah have recognized the week.

In addition to raising awareness of the benefits of
marriage, campaign leaders seek to mobilize churches to support marriage through activities such as youth dating
seminars, marriage preparation classes for singles and weekend marriage
conferences for couples.

Organizers also are spearheading a petition drive to protect
the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of gay
marriage.


The campaign culminates
Sunday with special marriage week services being held in churches nationwide.

Originally hosted by a group known as Smart Marriages, the
marriage week is being sponsored this year by the Let’s Strengthen Marriage
campaign, which recently held a webinar aimed at challenging church
leaders to lead a “marriage revival” in the U.S. 

The week, which has been marked in Europe for several years,
has been endorsed by the Family Research Council; Prison Fellowship founder Charles
Colson; Bishop Harry Jackson, chairman of the Stand4Marriage DC Coalition; and
the Rev. Sammy Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian
Leadership Conference.

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