President Bush stated last night that a strong America must “value the institution of marriage.” As the White House had previously announced, he proposes to spend $1.5 billion for counseling services, public awareness campaigns and marriage enrichment courses intended to foster “healthy marriages” among low-income Americans.

  • While we welcome the president’s concern for the stability of married couples, that stability is threatened by administration policies which no amount of counseling can overcome. America’s families are struggling with massive layoffs, a steadily eroding minimum wage, escalating health care bills and the loss of health insurance coverage. They need credible solutions to these problems, not political fig leaves.
  • The president appears to believe that valuing the traditional marital relationship requires that we devalue and stigmatize “non-traditional” relationships. By endorsing a federal definition of marriage as “the union of a man and a woman” and proposing policies to support only those relationships, the president tacitly supports discrimination against the millions of families that do not conform to that definition—including millions of children being raised in households headed by single or unmarried parents. These families face the same struggles yet benefit from none of the myriad policies that provide social and financial stability to those headed by married couples.

We applaud efforts to promote fidelity, responsibility, and mutual reliance. But those traditional virtues are not confined to traditional families. They are needed by all of our families as they strive to stay afloat amid the storms and strains of modern life.

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