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    The current averages for first marriages in the United State are currently at age 26 for women and 28 for men and the government has showed signs of concerned. There is research that suggests that marriage benefits people's lives, giving them better health, greater wealth and more happiness for the couple, and improved well-being for children. However, according to Amato, co-author of the 2007 book Alone Together: How Marriage in America Is Changing, "Marriage has become optional, and it's a different work out there"(USA Today).

     

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    According to USA today, TRU- Chicago-based youth Research Company had these finding:
    · 14% express strong sentiments against marriage.

    · 22% aren't ready but say they eventually plan to wed.

    · 23% have a practical view of marital unions and often live together first.

    · 19% are enmeshed in the magic of love.

    · 22% have a strong belief in the institution of marriage.

    "Of those surveyed, 69% were single, 29% married, and 2% were separated, widowed or divorced. Of the singles, 47% were in a committed relationship, 18% were dating but not in a committed relationship, and 35% were not dating."

    Since the mid-1990's all the States have made one effort or another to programs that promote marriage. In 2005, Congress set aside, to spread over five years, $750 million dollars with a significant amount going toward marriage-related and supporting fatherhood programs each year (USA Today). With that federal money, States have investigated costs of marriage licenses, incentives and disincentives for marriage and use that to build marriage programs. Florida had reduced their marriage license fees, Arizona drafted a "marriage handbook," and Michigan developed a family formation curriculum (Christian Science Monitor). Today, according to Jenny Backus, spokes person for the Department of Health and Human Services, President Obama supports these programs but the state of the economy is causing them to make choices in areas where they spend their money. The government is investigating whether or not these promotions work by looking at the effectiveness of advertising (USA Today).
    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 authorized the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, and in 2002, this program was renewed. TANF has four goals: provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of their relatives; end the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies; and encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families. "The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) funded this project to learn about the status of policies to support and promote marriage at the state level." In this report, Michigan established a concern for over half the studied criteria and have proposed legislature on legislative commission on marriage and fatherhood. Click here to see the report. Michigan highlights its programs empathizing teaching abstinence to the youth, along with Maryland and Massachusetts, Hawaii, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oregon. Michigan has voluntary pre-divorce programs that inform adults of the effects of divorce on children. A Michigan proposed bill was to "increase the waiting period before a marriage license is issued if couples do not participate in a pre-marital education program" to encourage people to get educated on marriage. ( Report)

    Some people say that government should not be using tax dollars to promote marriage, while others feel like this promotion of marriage is just for the sake of informing the public. In 2004, the National Organization of Women and the libertarian Cato Institute all spoke against the government's involvement in marriage. They both felt that if the government can control marriage, what other aspects of life they will get involved in (Christian Science Monitor). Some organizations continue to feel that way. On the other hand, Ron Haskins, co-director of the Brookings Center on Children and Families, disagrees: ‘"The government finances campaigns on smoking, seat-belt use, drug use,' he says. ‘We spend millions of dollars supporting public campaigns to change public behavior. From that perspective, this is entirely appropriate."' Organizations are not the only ones speaking out about this issue the American public has gotten involved, however, there continues to be a great discrepancy to the government's role in this issue of promoting marriage.

    SOURCES:
    http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/marriage02f/report.htm#I
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0504/p01s01-uspo.html
    http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/life/20090218/marriagepush18_cv.art.htm

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    Meet your Policy Fellow: Jocelyn Cutean

    Jocelyn Cutean serves as Morality and Family policy correspondent for the Michigan Policy Network. She is a first-year student at Michigan State, majoring in Theatre and English. Jocelyn has experience working on the executive board of the Waterford Chapter Coalition for Youth. She has also piloted a grant funded city wide public service announcement entitled, "It Just Wasn't Worth It" which exposes the repercussions of driving while intoxicated. Jocelyn enjoys art of all forms, from writing to performance.