Alia Rau of the Arizona Republic is someone I've thought of as a straightforward news reporter so I was surprised to see such a biased article under her byline. The piece is a woman-blaming mess from the title on down.
More moms in Arizona skip marriage
Debate over reversing the trend, providing a secure environment for children
What?! Okay, there's a good chance that Rau didn't pick that title but someone did. Someone who has been living in what culture their entire life? Because the rest of us live in the one where it's still customary for the man to propose marriage. It worth noting that in the two times that fathers are even mentioned in the article it's to describe a successful co-parenting situation and a longterm cohabitation where the couple, who were already parents of two children, recently married.
Beyond that, it's a story of wicked, wicked women who apparently steal sperm from unwitting men. And it's the unwillingness of these wicked, wicked single mothers to force the fathers of their children to marry them that is the cause of most modern social ills. Not widening inequality, not lack of opportunity and economic mobility. Certainly nothing to look at in the fathers. We are just to assume that the flaw lies entirely in the mothers.
Conservatives love this story and have ready-made solutions for the "problem".
Former Mesa Republican state lawmaker Mark Anderson was the force behind several successful bills to promote marriage, including using federal funds to create a state marriage education program and establishing so-called covenant marriages.
He said he doesn’t believe anybody, regardless of political affiliation, thinks the rising cost of unmarried mothers is OK.
“But if you ask them what to do about it, that’s another issue,” Anderson said. “It’s not simple.”
I'm not sure why Mark Anderson thinks I must share his anxiety over unmarried mothers. There's also no basis to conclude that what he implemented changed anything. So-called covenant marriage was clearly designed for middle class to affluent people who already intended to marry and who shared a certain religious sensibility. It was not a prescription to encourage marriage in general.
Conservatives say the solution is a cultural shift to reinstate the value of marriage.
“Increasingly, and most especially with this youngest generation, they don’t see marriage as something that has to come before children,” Hymowitz said. “It’s been very, very hard to get any consensus that this is a societal and economic problem.”
But more than a decade ago, the federal government did acknowledge the problem. And the resulting efforts to solve it have been unsuccessful.
One of the goals of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, authorized in 1996, was to encourage two-parent families. States, which receive the TANF funds to distribute, responded in a variety of ways.
Arizona established the option of covenant marriage contracts, which require the couple to get premarital counseling and can only be dissolved in limited situations such as adultery, abuse or abandonment. The state passed laws to require more education on the impacts of divorce as part of the divorce process. It created a commission that appropriated more than $1 million in TANF funds for a program to support marriage and published a marriage handbook.
Oklahoma in 1999 started the nation’s largest and longest-running state program supporting marriage, investing $10 million into the effort. But like Arizona, Oklahoma’s marriage rate continues to decline and its rate of unmarried mothers continues to rise.
Hymowitz said local and national leaders may need to be more blunt about the benefits of marrying before having children.
Really? The millions they've already spent on, uh, bluntly promoting the benefits of marriage haven't panned out already? You don't say!
UCLA researchers probed this mystery recently. They found that low income people valued marriage as much as their higher income counterparts. Perhaps lack of willingness to marry isn't the problem after all. Looks like marriage follows financial stability, not the other way around.
And not for nothing but, hey, didn't the single mothers "choose life"? Do conservatives even have grounds to criticize them? Would they be happier if the women had chosen abortion? I think not. Conservatives are also not exactly at the forefront of promoting sex ed and widespread contraception access either. Why, then, would any reporter take conservatives at their word on the subject of single mothers? They clearly know nothing about them.