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marriage as the cure for what ails you

Let's do a second take on this marriage thing, ok? Perhaps a nutshell reading of it wasn't appropriate. I mean, 1.5 billion dollars worth of preaching deserves more than just one sentence.

President Bush is considering a $1.5 billion proposal to promote marriage among low-income couples that could funnel millions into religious organizations that provide premarital and marriage counseling.

Programs that counsel gay and lesbian couples would be excluded from the plan.

Therein lies the rub.

On the surface, a program that encourages stable marriages, commitment, family and getting out of poverty would appear optimistic. Sure, let's bring America back to its glory days! Let all the men and women be together as one, let the children be happy, let there be food on every table and let divorce go the way of the Betamax. Raise your hands in glory, we are on the road to happiness!

Except for that darn thing about defining marriage. And that other sticky point about people oh, having choices. About single parents who are that way by choice. About abusive marriages and people joining in holy matrimony because the government says it will take them out of poverty.

If your partner/baby's father is a lazy ass drunk who thinks the meaning of work is opening the fridge, no town clerk signature on a piece of paper is going to make your situation any better.

If your partner/child's mother would rather spend your hard earned dollars on lottery tickets and Weekly World News instead of baby formula, marriage is not going to make her any less interested in Jesus coming back from the dead in the form of Bat Boy.

And all that is really just extraneous reasons to be against this absurd spending spree. The main reason is this: The government has no right to tell us how to live our personal lives. Spending over a billion dollars to encourage poor, young heterosexuals to get married is nearing Big Brother territory. Hey, let's take all this money that we could be using on other programs (maybe sex ed, which, for some reason, goes against the grain of those who are in favor of the marriage act) and dictate how people should live their lives. But wait. Not all people. Just religious people. And none of them gays. Apparently, the president cares about marriage, but only to the extent that it affects the people who fit into the mold of Good Wholesome American. Sure, you deal crack on the side, you beat your wife, you starve your kids, but you're straight and you go to church, so we're here to save you.

1.5 billion dollars for that? I'll pass.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference marriage as the cure for what ails you:

» http://www.josephfinn.net/mt/archives/002007.html from In Apprehension...
Michele has some interesting thoughts about the incredibly dumbass Coup plan to "promote marriage." [Read More]

» Scarier and Scarier from Your Guess Is As Good As Mine
Earlier, there was the image of a row of white men in their power suits joining President Bush as he signed into law the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003; now the Gilead republicans want to enforce their next round of patriarchal moral standards. [Read More]

» A "Thank You" Card With $400 from Late Final
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is giving a "thank you" gift to city property owners: a $400 tax rebate. The mayor spelled it out when he released his proposed budget for New York for its next fiscal year:... [Read More]

» Oh, and speaking of... from Sheila Astray's Redheaded Ramblings
"keeping your noses out of other people's personal business" - what the hell is up with that $1.5 billion dollar Bush proposal? You know, the marriage proposal, money will be used in some undefined way to help low-income people get... [Read More]


Apparently we haven't arisen from the stereotypical thinking of Christian families that Hollywood feasts on in their portrayal.
See if you can answer this question:
Between families that faithfully attend and participate in church, and those that don't, who's more likely to have a broken home, or sell crack? I'm confident it's not going to be me, or Christian friends, or even those from churches countywide.
Do you know how I can tell? Because every time a Christian screws up, everybody makes a big deal about it... we're expected to be different, somehow have better values; that's the difference.

While I agree with the general tenor of "the goverment doesn't belong in our bedrooms," on the other hand, it is in the government's interest to promote marriage based on all the data, e.g., married people are generally healthier, married people generally do better financially, etc.

Which is cause and which is effect? Correlation studies won't tell you that.

For example, let's say you do a study showing that kids do better when their parents are married, and not so good when their parents are divorced (let's ignored the never-married situation). Given divorce laws today, what are the chances that people in a horrible, abusive relationship will stay married? Married parents probably treat each other (and their kids) better than divorced parents who have already shown they don't like each other enough to live together.

This is one of those "leaks" you see around the time of the State of the Union. Odds are that it won't show up at all. Lots of things get discussed in an administration at this time, and only a very few show up in the SOTU. The guest worker program and the moon landing will get a mention, though, because he's announced them.

Aren't Republicans supposed to be in favor of smaller government? Has that idea died completely?

This is the worst example of nanny state-ism I've seen.

Never mind whether or not the government has the right to interfere with its citizens on the basis of marriage. Let's look at the fact that he's asking for ANOTHER billion and a half dollars to do it! And this is just days after he asked for a billion and a half to put a person on Mars. We're facing a monster deficit, and he just keeps piling on debt like it doesn't matter. Who is going to pay for it? He doesn't care, just as long as it appears that he's doing something, anything, to the voting public. The trouble is, he's just running around like an ADHD child! If he'd just focus for a minute, maybe, just maybe, we could solve some domestic economic issues and have some sort of plan on Iraq. THEN he can go to Mars, back marriage, or do whatever else he wants.

Suddenly I imagine a government sponsored add campaign that goes "Mariage: It's what's for dinner"

What was that from? A beef add? Or Boeuf as Garrison Keillor's French waiter says [FRENCH LAUGHTER] heh heh heh heeh

While I agree that christian families probably have better values, I work in an area where most of the people are christian (catholics) to be married in a catholic church a couple has to go to hours of intense traing on marriage and the role of the church. Yet a large percentage of the students where I work live in single parent households. so I'm not buying the church vs. stay married concept. also at this site http://www.divorcemag.com/statistics/statsUS2.shtml you can learn that the third highest state for divorce rate is oklahoma, and that rate is partially attributed to the fact that the confining rules of the church cause people to marry too early and marriage at an early age is a factor in the divorce rate. For those of you who are agreeing with the president that this is a good idea my only contribution is that I have been successfully married for over 20 years and would be happy to take millions from the government to study this. and since when do conservatives belief that the government is the right place to do social engineering. Since I live in Southern california don't even get me started on the guest worker program. Did I mention that we have a budget deficit now and can't afford some of these things??

As to the exclusion of homosexuals, isn't it obvious? They've been fighting for the right to marry for how long now? They hardly need to be included in programs promoting it!


I agree that on the surface this seems to be leading to bigger government, but I don't see it as "interfering" with marriage or telling us how to live. It's not a government mandate that all marriages should be between hetro church-goin' folk. It's pumping money into counseling, as an effort to build up the resources that aid in stronger marriages- and a lot of them are religious organizations. It does seem lame that they excluded same-sex marriages but that's the law. Change the law, and change the program.

The problem I have is if they do provide marriage incentives like the boost in welfare checks that already exist- that's not going to help anyone.

"Marriage" in its very definition is defined as the union of man and woman, so logic follows that gay men or lesbian women cannot be married. The government isn't defining or redefining marriage, because marriage is what it is. Just like apples and oranges. An orange, though it is a fruit and has many similarities to an apple, by its very definition is not an apple. The orange can never be an apple. Gay and Lesbian couples can never be married.

Between families that faithfully attend and participate in church, and those that don't, who's more likely to have a broken home, or sell crack?

Church attendance, like drug use and broken families, is positively correlated with poverty and negatively correlated with education level.

Blacks and Hispanics, the two major American ethnic groups with the highest rates of drug abuse and criminal behavior, are also the two most religious ethnic groups.

Fundamentalist Christians have vastly higher rates of child abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, than atheists do, and are more likely to have a criminal record. Christians are statistically overrepresented in prisons; atheists are underrepresented.

So my answer to your question is: I don't know. But it's hard to argue that "getting religion" is a good path to moral behavior, based on the empirical evidence.

Because every time a Christian screws up, everybody makes a big deal about it

Because Christians claim moral and spiritual superiority to non-Christians. Everbody likes to see an inflated ego get popped.

Not sure if this would be a good thing or a bad thing (probably bad), but I'm getting a little tired of seeing that little 'b' at the start of every notation of how much money is going to be spent on this or that. How soon 'til we start saying. Oh, we're going to creat a special organization to coordinate the restoration of sand-mites in the Nevada desert. It's going to be a 3.4 trillion dollar program.

"Marriage" in its very definition is defined as the union of man and woman, so logic follows that gay men or lesbian women cannot be married.

Encarta: "a legally recognized relationship, established by a civil or religious ceremony, between two people who intend to live together as sexual and domestic partners"

Merriam-Webster: "an intimate or close union"

Dictionary.com: "A union between two persons having the customary but usually not the legal force of marriage: a same-sex marriage"

Wordsmyth: "any close union of two people, objects, or ideas"

Now, do most of these dictionaries also contain the definition you use? Yes.

Are you in any sense right in claiming that yours is the one and only true definition? No. There is not such thing as a "one and only true definition" of an English word. Words are just vehicles for conveying meaning. For example, a century ago, your sentence would have read as "'Marriage' in its very definition is defined as the union of man and woman, so logic follows that happy men and women from a particular Greek island cannot be married". And people would have looked at you like you were insane.

I look forward to your upcoming endorsement of the concept of gay marriage. :)

Gay and Lesbian couples can never be married.

Really? Somebody ought to tell the Quakers that they can't go having gay and lesbian marriage ceremonies, then. And I'm not talking about partnerships, or commitments, or partnership commitments, I'm talking about marriages. Maybe not recognized by the state, but certainly recognized by the Meeting and affirmed before God.

Also, who capitalizes Lesbian these days? That's so 1950s.

Also, who capitalizes Lesbian these days?

People who live on the island of Lesbos, probably.

I'm not saying it's a good idea, but I don't see where you get that it's only for religious people. Everything you said is true except:
"Not all people. Just religious people."
This is an example of the government telling us how to live and rewarding the ones who agree. They exclude gays in their deffinition of a healthy family, and both of those things could cause huge problems. The site you quote, though, said that this was a $1.5 billion program and that it could funnel millions into religious programs, so it does at least sound like they are willing to support secular programs designed to promote marriage as well. It doesn't appear all the money is going to religious programs. I may be misreading it though. If so, then I don't disagree with anything you said.

I'm personally against the government giving money to religious institutions for any reason.

BSTI: supporter of the Blaine Amendments in 45+ state constitutions, then, are you? They're blatant religious discrimination, and were adopted during a frenzy of anti-Catholic bigotry in the 1880's and 90's.

The First Amendment means government is supposed to be neutral toward religion, not actively hostile toward it. Earmarking public funds for exclusive use by religious organizations is wrong, but denying them and them alone access to those funds is equally wrong.

Let's put aside the fact that this program would once more blur the line of seperation between church & state, or that it excludes a large part of population that ACTUALLY DOES want to get married. Where in the hell does Bush get off asking for 1.5 Billion dollars? Didn't he just ask for (and get) $84 Billion for his war in Iraq. Where are we supposed to get the money? It certainly isn't going to come from all those tax cuts he gave all his business buddies.

Doesn't anybody care about the longterm effects all this spending will have?

What about Bush's No Child Left Behind Program? There are still a lot of schools out there with overworked and understaffed teachers, not to mention the lack of supplies and high drop out rates. Why not give the schools (and our children) 1.5 Billion dollars. Maybe then the kids would be educated enough to make their OWN DECISIONS about marriage.

thank you for your beacon in a storm... being a gay woman who's celebrated 6 years with my 'wife'... I find it so ironic that I am denied marriage by law (and other people's religious views) but ol' Britney can go and get married just as a fun thing to do on a saturday night. It just doesn't make sense to me...

I am Republican. I want this Administration to know two things:

1. Marriage is none of your fucking business. You shouldn't be able to dictate who can marry who except for possibly setting a minimum age requirement. Quit intruding in our lives.

2. Stop wasting my fucking money!!!!!!!

The First Amendment means government is supposed to be neutral toward religion, not actively hostile toward it.

Forcing me to pay taxes so they can pay some dipshit to thump a Bible sure as hell sounds like an "establishment of religion" to me. So do the massive tax breaks given to religions and religious institutions.

And in what way is "they're not giving me handouts" active hostility? You must be a Democrat.

You're kidding me, Dan: I'm not a Dem by any stretch of the imagination. And I wasn't defending this handout, which I find incredibly stupid and annoying, but attacking a comment that government should never give money to religious institutions for any reason. IF government is going to giving out money (which it probably shouldn't, but IF it does), religious institutions should have the same chance to compete for it, no more or less.

The Blaine Amendments are going to be the argument states use against vouchers now that they (rightly) can't rely on an interpretation of the First Amendment where the Establishment Clause swallows the Free Exercise Clause. The argument, to be made, must be premised on the idea that religious speech is uniquely disprivileged compared to any other speech.

What happened to the separation of church and state...er fed?

What happened to separation of church and state is that it was elevated from a philosophical principle mentioned in a letter by Thomas Jefferson to a tenet of constitutional law, despite the phrase appearing precisely nowhere in the Constitution.

Again, to spell this out, I am not saying that I think this proposal is a good idea: I really, really don't. But I also don't buy a constitutional argument against it. Something doesn't need to be unconstitutional to be bad policy, and vice-versa.

The far right and the far left are so friggin' similar - they both sit around all day salivating at the idea of being able to intrude into our personal lives and force all of us to bow to their beliefs.

It's pathetic, but that doesn't mean they aren't dangerous. We ignore them at our own peril...

What happened to separation of church and state is that it was elevated from a philosophical principle mentioned in a letter by Thomas Jefferson to a tenet of constitutional law, despite the phrase appearing precisely nowhere in the Constitution.

Whereas the phrase "establishment of religion", which is actually IN the Constitution, has been so perverted that the Federal Government is now allowed to openly fund religions with public money.

The notion that the founding fathers thought it would be OK for the Federal Government to fund the Church, so long as it only gave the Church some of its money, is entirely delusional. It exists as part of our law today solely because the Supreme Court contains a number of judges who are in the habit of placing their religious faith ahead of their oaths of office.

Hell yeah!

Dan, you do realize that when the Constitution was written, that some states had an 'official religion', and the Founders did not say that those were Unconstitutional.

link - http://en2.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_church

A simple look at the number of cases that went before the Supreme Court where 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion' has been interpretted as 'no reference to religion near a public structure' would indicate an unbalanced view of 'church' and 'state' by the SCOTUS.

respecting - to have reference to. Thus the Congress should not say anything about religion period. And by virtue of the 14th Amendment, no government, or part of a government (judiciary), can say anything either.

And considering that this Supreme Court has NO PROBLEM with telling people where they can pray, I SERIOUSLY doubt that their 'religious oaths' outweigh their 'oaths of office'. That idea is especially dumb seeing as how their 'oaths of office' are RELIGIOUS - "I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as [TITLE] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.'' http://bensguide.gpo.gov/3-5/symbols/oaths.html

This problem began when the SCOTUS GAVE themselves the power of judicial review. The Founders did not give it to them in the Constitution, and no other branch of the Federal Government (or the States, or the People) can simply GIVE themselves powers. So why tolerate their Courts inventing their own powers? Especially when they use that power to 'interpret' rights into the Constitution that are not written in, and ignore Rights that clearly stated?

Social conservatives are not friends of freedom--nor are they generally in favor of non-intrusive small government. They, like the leftists who they more accurately resemble, want vast state controls imposed.

The controls they want may not be exactly the same as those desired by those on the left, but the end result is the same, freedom killing, individuality-denying cesspool of statism that moves the antlike proles that communists desire.

This expensive marriage proposal is a symptom of that--and an example of two competing ideologies that vie for dominance in the Republican party.

Eric, while I agree with much of your sentiments, I can't agree with the idea that the Court simply granted itself the power of judicial review from nowhere in Marbury v. Madison. That authority does naturally and logically flow from the text of the Constitution itself: Article III grants "the judicial power" to the Supreme Court and such other courts as Congress may create. The judicial power is, by definition, the power to adjudicate facts and apply the law to them, and the Constitution is, by its own terms, the supreme law of the land, preeminent over any other law, state or federal. Thus, if two laws seem to conflict, a court must, by its nature as an institution, determine if they do conflict and apply one or the other. What else could it do?

Moreover, it should be pointed out that the last state churches were disestablished in the 1830's or 40's, well before the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment applied the Bill of Rights to the states as well as the feds.

Dan, a hypothetical: Congress appropriates funds to distribute for policy X. The statute allows the states, local governments and private organizations (both businesses and non-profits) to submit bids and proposals to do X, or part of it, whatever it is (it doesn't really matter). The statute specifically excludes any religious organization from bidding. Constitutional? Think about Equal Protection as well as the First Amendment.

$1.5 billion is a huge amount of money, but I really don't understand some of the other objections to this plan.

I don't see where it is at all coercive. It just seems to be providing an optional resource that people can take advantage of to give them, hopefully, a better chance of making a marriage work if that is something they want. It doesn't seem any more Big Brother than anti-smoking campaigns.

If religious groups are allowed compete for this funding on an even footing with non-religious organizations, why would that be objectionable to anyone who doesn't find religion inherently untrustworthy? I'm with Dave J on this; separation of Church and State shouldn't mean discriminating against religion.

I'm more troubled by the exclusion of gay couples, but if you take the administration at face value, that's not their choice but mandated by the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996. Could be they are being disingenuous, but it could also be the real problem isn't with this initiative but with a law passed by the previous administration (probably a bit of both). Of course, it's not like Bush is doing anything to repeal that Act, but that's a whole 'nother argument.

I'm sorry, I didn't realize that all those molesting Priests in the CATHOLIC church were marrying such upstanding citizens that the rest of the people should strive to be like...

I happen to have a very good friend that the Catholic church screwed up royally with guilt issues. I'm not seeing what the big deal on getting married in the church is.

I think 2 people committing to one another is a bigger deal.

In yet another stunning confusion of correlation for causation, Bushco continues the proud tradition of preaching morality to the downtrodden. I am confident that even the casual researcher can find edicts of this sort right back to the beginnings of recorded history. Same high-handed crap, different high-handed twit.

Married couples are better off financially not because they happen to be married, but because there are two freaking incomes contributing to the household. Are they seriously asking us to buy this pro-marriage cant? Ludicrous.

And considering that this Supreme Court has NO PROBLEM with telling people where they can pray . . .

They do? Where? Oh, I get it -- you're confused. See, what the Court has actually done is tell people where they can force other to pray, which is "Nowhere."

That idea is especially dumb seeing as how their 'oaths of office' are RELIGIOUS . . .

You do know "So help me God" is optional, right? See, instead of reading guides to government for children, you should read the actual Constitution, which prohibits religious tests for officeholders. Requiring a Federal government employee to say "So help me God" -- indeed, requiring someone to take an oath which you yourself characterize as wholly religious -- would be patently unconstitutional.

Some strange feeling seized me when I read your comment, Phil.
Does Phil's post look strange here?
No. So Phil, what is the point in your comment?
There always has to be some point.
Nothing personal tho.