November 13, 2002
VLWC:It Takes a Wedding (ALEX KOTLOWITZ, November 13, 2002, NY Times)
With the Republican victory last week, Congress now appears likely to set aside funding for programs that promote marriage among the poor. A friend who provides services for inner-city children declared this marriage push "nuts." That had been my initial reaction, as well. But now I wonder if the conservatives who are driving this effort might be on to something.
There's a shift in the winds in our inner cities. On the heels of a fatherhood movement (which, incidentally, also had conservative roots), more and more young couples are considering marriage. A long-term study of 5,000 low-income couples has found that eight of 10 who have a child together have plans to marry. "I was out in the field all of the time, interviewing low-income single mothers," Kathy Edin, a sociologist at Northwestern University, told me. "And what really struck me in those interviews was how many people talked about the desire to get married. And I would go back, you know, and talk to my friends in academia and they would say, 'Oh, they can't mean that.' But I would hear it again and again." [...]
[T]here is now growing consensus among social scientists that, all things being equal, two parents are best for children. It would seem to follow that two-parent families are also best for a community. It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes families to build a village. [...]
Even if conservatives don't know how to get there, at least they recognize that marriage, this very private institution, has very public consequences. Liberals, who have a much firmer understanding of the obstacles poor people face, need to enter that conversation.
First, let me say that one sure sign you're becoming a right-wing paranoiac is that the main thing that strikes you about this essay, and that PBS Frontline is running a related documentary--FRONTLINE: 'Let's Get Married' (PBS, 11/14/01, 9 pm)--this week, is that they waited until after the election to acknowledge the efficacy of a conservative crusade.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 13, 2002 12:30 PM